I Went To Costco For The First Time In Years & This Is Why I'd Rather Shop At A Grocery Store

Spending money at the wholesale retailer isn't for everyone!

lisa belmonte in an aisle at costco. right: exterior of a costco warehouse with people going through the entrance
Senior Creator

Lisa Belmonte at a Costco location in Canada. Right: Exterior of a Costco warehouse in Ontario.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

If you're a Costco member and love shopping at the wholesale retailer, you will probably not be pleased with what's about to be said here.

After going to a Costco Canada warehouse for the first time in years, I came to realize that I'd much rather shop at grocery stores despite the retailer's reputation for being a place where you can save money.

Recently, I went to one of the wholesaler retailer's locations in Ontario with my sister since she has a membership.

The last time I shopped at a Costco before this was back when I was a kid. My aunt had a membership, and my mom, my sisters and I would sometimes go with her.

The only thing I remember from those shopping trips was my aunt getting us delicious double chocolate chip muffins from the Costco bakery as a treat.

Since I hadn't given going to the wholesaler again after so long much thought because I just went on a whim, I ended up being pretty shocked by a lot of things.

So, here are a couple of reasons why I prefer shopping at grocery stores after going to Costco for the first time in years.

people standing outside of a costco location in ontarioExterior of a Costco location in Ontario.Lisa Belmonte | Narcity

The shoppers

It seems like the draw of savings turns people into frantic shoppers who will push you out of the way to get a case of pop and a package of toilet paper if you're standing in front of the display for more than five seconds.

Or, almost run you over with their cart to get into the store before you do.

(And yes, all of that happened to me when I went to Costco for the first time in years!)

It honestly felt like I was shopping during a Black Friday sale in the U.S. — you know, the ones that have stampedes — instead of just a regular weekend.

Then, there are the shoppers who block the entrance to the aisle so they can get free samples.

Of course, grocery stores aren't immune to inconsiderate shoppers, but a lot of Costco customers were being so ridiculous that it was kind of like I'd been transported to an alternate reality.

The warehouse

Most grocery stores are typically the same size, not too big and not too small.

So, walking into Costco and seeing the massive size of the warehouse was a bit overwhelming, and the vastness made it feel like the store was never-ending.

The super tall shelves stacked high with products that you can grab and pallets of even more products above those made me feel so insignificantly small.

Also, it was a bit of a sensory overload with all the sounds of shoppers and workers travelling through the open warehouse.

The sizes of products

interior of a costco location with people shopping

People shopping at a Costco.

Lisa Belmonte | Narcity

Let's be real — unless you own a business or have 10 kids, does anyone really need a two-dozen carton of eggs or a comically large bag of chips?

While you can often get a product for a cheaper price at Costco than at a grocery store and Kirkland Signature items are cheaper than name-brand versions, I just can't see how it's worth it to get a two-kilogram jar of peanut butter or a box of cereal that's two boxes in one.

The membership

There are two types of Costco memberships that you can get:

  • the Executive membership which has an annual fee of $120 and gets you access to all Costco locations, an annual 2% reward on qualified purchases and other discounts
  • the Gold Star membership which has an annual membership fee of $60 and gets you access to all Costco locations
Even though you can find some products that are less expensive and a few unique items, having to pay to get into a store and then paying for the products I paid to get access to just doesn't make sense to me.

The lack of organization

If you go to the same Costco location to do your weekly grocery shop then you've probably memorized where the items you always buy are.

But if you're looking for something new or don't shop there often, it can be a bit overwhelming to try and find products because there's seemingly a lack of organization.

Or, at least, a lack of direction for shoppers, unlike grocery stores which have signs at every aisle telling you which products you'll find there.

lisa belmonte in an aisle at a costco locationLisa Belmonte at Costco.Lisa Belmonte | Narcity

Costco is pretty popular and it's one of the most reputable retailers in Canada, so I understand that this is probably an unpopular opinion, but the wholesale retailer just isn't everyone's cup of tea.

While shopping there was overwhelming and stressful, one good thing did come from it: I bought those double chocolate chip muffins I remember getting when I would go to Costco with my aunt as a kid. Full circle!

Lisa Belmonte
Senior Creator
Lisa Belmonte is a Senior Creator for Narcity Media focused on jobs and careers and is based in Ontario.