Is it just me, or is Costco going downhill lately?

I’m actually probably closer to Danbury but I like to head to Yonkers since I grew up there. I take the long was down Central and hit Epsteins or HMart and the bagel store!

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From what I’ve learned from employees, this isn’t always the case, it’s not always just profit driven but other things sometimes come into play including from the suppllier’s end.

I’m a new member but have always visited with others and they are definitely adding more organic products (e.g. frozen berries are only sold organic at my store, similar to many vegetables). I think they are following the popular niche markets which is also why I feel they also have a lot of low carb products.

The meat also isn’t a deal here and I refuse to buy the beef which is all mechanically tenderized which Costco refuses to comment about.

Some of the cuts I typically buy (notably flank steak) were mechanically tenderized for a while (which was noted on the label), but they have stopped doing that recently, at least at the stores I frequent. Costco’s meat is typically a third or so less expensive than comparable products at my local grocery stores, but the quality is no longer that much higher. I have been buying more meat at Restaurant Depot lately because of this.

I’m a bit biased because a family member of mine works for Costco. That said, the Yonkers Costco is horrendous. I go there strictly out of convenience-- even though it’s equidistant from where I live to Yonkers and Port Chester, Yonkers is more along my normal route so that’s where I go. I know that Port Chester caters to a higher end demographic and thus there are certain things they carry that Yonkers does not. Yonkers will inexplicably stop and start carrying pretty basic items and move things around to random places that don’t make sense. While I really dislike the bi-level layout of Port Chester (making it annoying if you forget something upstairs, although I’ve been told if you tell a staff member they will go up and get it for you), their selection is better (for me) than Yonkers, although I haven’t been there enough times to comment on whether they stop randomly carrying stuff like Yonkers does.

Some more random thoughts… I only buy chicken as far as meat goes there which I’ve been happy with. I rarely buy their prepared food but last time I was there I bought individual portion size cups of chicken salad which are really convenient for lunch. I also like the spinach and ricotta ravioli. I recently was disappointed with chicken apple sausage I got (I think Adell’s brand). The cheese section at Yonkers has become a bit less high end and interesting but I find the prices are hard to beat. Especially when we are having a party I find myself buying a lot of stuff there. When I’m not buying in-season fruit at the farmers’ market, the fruit is an incredibly good value compared to other grocery stores. I do tend to go for organic/natural versions of things and I like when they have those options.

Interesting. I didn’t realize that was the case - probably applies to New Rochelle and Nanuet as well. When I lived in Queens I did most of my Costco shopping at the Westbury store on Long Island, with occasional trips to the Astoria store, where there was not only an income demographic difference at play but a cultural one as well.

At one point, a few years ago, SoCal Costcos (maybe all) stopped carrying Coca Cola products over pricing issues. What I heard was that Costco felt the wholesale had gotten too high. They didn’t just raise retails. Suppliers have to be able to live in that relationship too.

We have 5 Costco stores within 15 miles of us. The demos are not all that different but they exist. Product mixes are mostly the same but not completely. No retailer gets to where Costco is without being able to make these kinds of decisions.

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Costco items are location/region specific based on sales and customer requests. They aren’t going to devote something in your store to something that doesn’t sell well, but 30 miles away, they might still have it since it sells better there.

I have 3 Costcos within 25 minutes of me.

One (Costco A), I don’t go to because it’s the only Costco around that area and gets quite busy.

The second (Costco B) is about 3 miles from my house, and is my “usual” store. that’s where I go when I need to do a grocery run.

The third is a newer location that opened up a little over a year ago (Costco C). It’s about 10-12 miles from home, but in a shopping area I go to often. It’s also in a higher end shopping area, so the products they carry are different than the one closer to my house. If I’m in that area, I’ll hit up that Costco.

For example, Costco C’s alcohol department – they have several higher end scotches, whiskeys and wines that they don’t carry at Costco B. If we are replenishing our nicer bottles, we usually go here. Also meats – they have a better selection of meat at Costco C – prime tomahawks, large lobster tails, etc. If it’s a special occasion, we come here to get something we normally don’t buy. Costco C recently had large jars of ghee and refrigerated rasmalai (an indian dessert). Costco B didn’t have either.

But at the same time – Costco B has more everyday stuff. They carry 1% milk. Costco C does not. They almost always have rotisserie chickens available. Costco C is sold out quite often. Costco B carries paneer now, which I haven’t seen at Costco C yet.

From what I understand, they analyze each stores sales and decide what to carry. If people are asking for organic creamer, and the regular creamer isn’t a big seller, then they’ll replace it. But the store in the next town over might still have the regular creamer because people aren’t asking for organic there and the regular one sells fine.

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Once knew a national brand manager for a well-known product. Asked him: Who is your best customer? His answer: “It’s also our toughest customer – Costco . . . the buyers are exacting on package and price Woe be to the manager who loses the Costco account.”

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Interesting. They definitely tenderize everything here including the prime stuff (why?). The prices are usually higher, though it’s Ohio so I imagine region matters as for relative prices. I’ve heard many say the quality is better but it hasn’t been the case for me. It’s not bad but it’s not noticeably better.

High wire act selling to them in most industries. Huge volume; tiny margin. The formula works only with continuity of production. I worked for a company that sold them apparel closeouts maybe 25 years ago. What we shipped them would be gone from their stores in less than a week. That’s not how they work today, for the most part.

Also asked my guy about his brand and 80/20 “rule” or Pareto Principle (20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales). He said he was 90/10, so really was his case that "woe be to the manager . . . "

That’s not a healthy place for a company to be.

My sense of things is that they are introducing more, not less, of the Kirkland brand throughout the store.

They probably had a problem with scheduling a packaging run at the supplier and needed stock.

Costco seems to be in a constant state of evolution, they have the items that don’t change often, but then things always get added on the periphery.

Lately we’ve seen some new Korean (dumplings, noodle kits) and Indian (samosas) offerings.

You will also see many regional differences, even between stores in the same area. In our area Neptune has a large selection of Kosher items, Hazlet does not. Midwest stores carry Cookies bbq sauce, in So Cal it’s Yoshida gourmet sauce.

Costco are, however, generally not as adventurous or as broad in the food offerings as they used to be say 15-20 years ago. It’s a lot of the same stuff, and more Kirkland than name brands.

…That’s not a healthy place for a company to be.
Some disagree apparently.

I was referring to a company doing 90% of its business with Costco… at VERY low profit margin. Costco is just fine.

Ah, gotcha.

I’m out of the business about five years, but last I heard Costco (and BJs and Sams) were neither wholesale nor retail. They were “big box” and they got the best deals from manufacturers.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold