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‘I went to Costco in Reading and I’ll never be the same person again’ – Sophie Drew

5 min read

Despite its international renown, Costco may just be the most underrated supermarket of all time. The one-stop-shop makes every other retailer pale in comparison.

When Belinda Carlisle said ‘heaven is a place on Earth’ I think she must have been talking about Costco. The warehouse has everything you could possibly dream of, and so much more.

If you have never visited a Costco store then I’ll paint you a vivid picture: You’re sat at home looking desolate, scanning through a to-do list longer than your arm. Not only do you need new tyres, an eye test, an entire set of living room furniture, a new TV and 300 toilet rolls, you’ve also committed to hosting a large social gathering this evening and the fridge needs stocking to the very top.

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For many, this image may feel like a nightmare. For Costco shoppers, it’s a wonderful opportunity.

Some may look at a to-do list like that and think there’s no hope, but I present to you – oh dear, pessimistic reader – the Warehouse of Dreams.

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From the moment you enter it’s an assault on the senses in the best possible way. You’ve picked up a new TV, a washing machine and 40 first-class stamps and you’ve only covered the first three aisles. The adventure has only just begun.

Once you turn the corner to the food section then you’ve really hit the big leagues.

Costco cakes
From size to flavour, nothing beats a Costco cake

A carrot cake big enough to feed an entire primary school? Perfect for the bake sale you never have time to prepare for. A ready-made ploughman’s platter? Ideal for that social gathering you said you’d host but can’t be bothered to organise. A pack of 30 burgers? Put up an umbrella and get grilling, it’s barbecue season.

You think it’s all over. Nothing can top this. You’re wrong.

The central section of the warehouse is like the middle aisle of a Lidl, only the high street retailer is competing in a measly sports day whilst Costco brings home the gold in the Olympics. There’s no competition here.

Reporter Sophie on a Costco sofa
Sofa, so good – there’s no limit to the range of stuff they sell in Costco

From treadmills to small powerboats, queen-sized beds to sofas, and packets of sweets bigger than your average three-year-old, there’s no limit to the imagination of the Costco buyers.

On my most recent trip, I knew I’d hit the pièce de résistance when I found a lamppost.

In short, if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse I’ll survive for several years if I lock myself in Costco.

A lactose-intolerant person in an ice cream factory couldn’t get through the amount of toilet roll that comes in a Costco pack. Imagine every item in a wholesale box and then multiply it by 10.

Reporter Sophie Drew compares a tub of mayonnaise to her head
A tub of mayonnaise bigger than my head. Perhaps the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

Once you’ve paid for your goods – and be warned, you always leave with far more than you came in for – you’re in for the grand finale.

Bizarrely, Costco offers eye tests, and you can pick up a range of glasses for a very affordable price. Once you’ve grabbed your new specs you’re onto the tyre section to pick out some new wheels for your car – the two ventures would never be found together outside of the bizarre world of Costco, but for some reason the dizzy excitement of the store just makes everything make complete sense.

Unless you want to pick up some life insurance or plan your new dream kitchen, the last stop is the restaurant. Pizza slices as big as your head, hot dogs to trump Ikea and refillable drinks that will have you needing to pull over the car every five minutes on the way home.

The Reading branch even has a gelato bar. Wonders never cease.

Pizza and a coke
It may not look like much, but for £1.50, a refillable drink and a massive slice of pizza is great value for money.

Before you exit you’ll need to pass your (very long) receipt to the employee at the door. They’ll eyeball your trolley, pretending to make sure you’re not running away with 56 doughnuts that you never paid for. We all know it’s a farce – there’s no way they’re able to see the entire contents of that trolley behind the 70 inch TV and a teddy bear bigger than a grown man. I know it. They know it. We both play along anyway.

Despite all the wonderful things about Costco, there is one downfall – the membership. Whoever said all good things in life are free clearly never visited the world’s greatest store.

Only specific people can shop in Costco. There’s a level of exclusivity. This, folks, is how they get you.

You can only enter the hallowed halls of wholesale discount heaven if you fit the criteria. Amongst a long list of categories, it includes the self-employed, business owners and – thankfully- the press.

I fell for that ploy hook, line and sinker. It was like a high society country club and I could be a member. I whacked down my press pass like a woman possessed. Sign me up for those bargains, and do it now.

If you are deemed worthy of a Costco membership then I implore you to grab a freakishly large trolley and hit the shelves.

They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy you a Costco membership, and that’s sort of the exact same thing.

  • Have you ever been to Costco? What do you think of the superstore chain? Let us know in the comments!

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