No Need to Clip Coupons at Costco?

I have to admit, I am bad about coupon cutting, but I’m kicking myself because I never knew this about the Costco coupon book that comes every month:

As a member, I receive a Costco coupon book mailed to my home about once a month. When I check out, the cashier can swipe the entire booklet. The computer automatically gives the sale price on any eligible item in my cart. No clipping coupons! One wave across the scanner and I get all of the discounts I’m entitled to.

Why did I not know this?

Costco in Kapolei, Hawaii Opens Friday February 27

Costco is opening its 7th warehouse in Hawaii this Friday:

The 160,000-square-foot membership warehouse at the corner of Kapolei Parkway and Kalaeloa Boulevard will open Feb. 27 at 8 a.m.

The store will feature a variety of local items in addition to its regular inventory, a gas station, an optical department, pharmacy, tire center, hearing aid center and food court.

Amazon Kindle and Chinese Cars Coming to Costco… Well, Maybe

kindleWithin the last few days I have read of two very different things that could or should be sold at Costco, according to the articles’ authors.

First, the Amazon Kindle electronic book reader:

At $360, the Kindle is still an expensive toy — especially if you haven’t had a chance to play with one. Amazon, without retail stores, doesn’t make it easy to try one out in person before you buy one. And given its niche uptake so far, it’s unlikely your roommates or coworkers have one you can try out.

But a Kindle display at Costco’s 400-plus U.S. stores could solve that problem for many people: It’s the kind of store that’s going to attract smart shoppers during an economic downturn, and it’s also the kind of place where people are comfortable dropping $1,500 on a hi-def TV (or a 200-gallon vat of ketchup).

And, how about super-cheap Chinese cars:

Kathleen Ligocki, CEO of GS Motors and formerly president of Ford of Mexico, expects Chinese-designed cars to begin production in Mexico in 2010—and make their way to the US about five years after first testing the waters in Latin America and Canada. GS Motors, a Mexican company, already imports three models from China’s First Auto Works (FAW) and sold 4,000 of them in Mexico last year.

Here’s the zinger: Ligocki believes Chinese cars will be sold in the US through big-box stores like Costco or Wal-Mart, which is how GS Motors is retailing them in Mexico.

GS is building an assembly plant in Michoacan, Mexico with FAW. The plan is for vehicles to roll off the line beginning in 2010. GS Motors will launch the FAW brand in Mexico this year with the F1 Hatchback, an entry-level car sold for under $5,500.

Can you imagine a new car for $5500? I would seriously question the safety of such a thing.

Anyway, neither of these things is happening any time soon, if at all, but it’s interesting to think about.

Costco Stock Down 18% in 2009 After Earnings Warning


Costco Wholesale said it expects profit for the current quarter to be “substantially below” analysts’ estimates.

The news pushed the stock of the Issaquah-based warehouse-club chain down $3.14, or 6.8 percent, to $42.98. The shares are down 18.1 percent so far this year.

Costco said in a statement Wednesday that earnings per share for its fiscal second quarter, which ends Feb. 15, will miss the consensus estimate of 70 cents. The retailer also said sales in January were little changed at $5.1 billion, and sales at outlets open at least a year — a key retailing metric, known as same-store sales — fell 2 percent.

There has been other not-so-great news for Costco in the recent past, but overall this is the first time I really feel like the economic slowdown is hitting Costco in a big way. They kept it up through Christmas, but now they’re in a slump too.

People are just keeping their money under the mattress these days, and I’m no exception.

Costco Shareholders Meeting Sounds Like Fun

I’m very low on the Costco shareholder food chain, but I was still invited to their annual shareholders meeting. It was a bit much to go all the way to Bellevue, Washington, so I had to miss out. But I kinds wish I hadn’t. It sounds like one big party:

The retail sector may be in a downward spiral, but the hundreds of investors who attended Costco’s annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash., on Wednesday had other concerns. For example: How long was the line for free croissant sandwiches? And where were people getting slices of pecan pie?

“I can get enough chocolate muffins here to stock up for my Super Bowl party,” says Julie Beeler, a longtime shareholder who drove 30 minutes from Des Moines, Wash., to attend the festivities. “I’ve been to the meetings for Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, but Costco has the best ones. I don’t have any questions–they’re a good company.”

Beeler is right to be pleased – and not just with the snacks. Costco (COST, Fortune 500), along with Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), is one of the few retailers to buck dismal sales trends over the last year. The $71 billion warehouse chain announced in December a 4% jump in quarterly revenues, to $16 billion, and a 1% increase in same-store sales (both metrics were hurt by foreign exchange). Costco’s stock dipped 23% last year (compared to a 32% drop in the S&P retail index), but if you bought it five years ago you’ve still seen 63% returns.

Several of the shareholders at the meeting recognized each other, shaking hands and hugging over packets of free laundry detergent and caramel macadamia nut clusters. Samples were abundant, just as they are at the company’s 550 stores. Sally Holzbach, an 83-year-old shareholder who attended the event with her daughter, Sarah, got her picture taken, then printed on a cover layout of Costco Connection magazine.

And, by the way, Costco’s 16-cent per share dividend is paying out Feb 27, but you have to be a shareholder by Feb 13 to get it.

Best Time to Buy a TV from Costco?

From Musings of a Slowly Rotting Mind:

On Sunday February 1 in the United States, billions of kilowatt hours will be consumed to present the Super Bowl on millions of huge flat-screen TV sets, many of which will be returned to the place where they were bought right after the game, especially if they were bought from Costco. (When I served on a jury, a Costco manager/jury member told me that right after the Super Bowl is the time to come in to buy a lightly used TV really cheap!)

Now you know.

Unhappy with Kirkland Laundry Detergent


The image above is not the exact Kirkland detergent I’m unhappy with, but I think it’s close enough. I was too lazy to take a picture of my actual box, but it’s the dry detergent we’re talking about here.

PROBLEM: Detergent is NOT dissolving all the way and is instead leaving small detergent specks all over our clothes. You can even see all kinds of detergent specks in the sink when the water has drained, so this is after a full cycle wash that the detergent has not fully dissolved.

I think we’ve used this Kirkland detergent before & I don’t remember this problem. Is this a new formula, new outside company making the stuff, or did I just get a bad batch? Anybody else having this problem?

I got a big  ol’ box of stuff now, too. Not happy.