How Not Shopping at Costco Canada Makes You a Rookie

Posted on September 10, 2021

Imagine a store that sells more clothes than Old Navy, as well as over 157,000 rotisserie chickens every day. You can also buy your favourite wine, book your next cruise, pick up your prescription medications, and get an eye exam.

What is this incredible store that sounds (almost) too good to be true? It's Costco Canada! With 105 locations spread across 85 Canadian cities, you're never far from amazing shopping opportunities.

If you're not yet familiar with the Costco wholesale concept, it's time to get acquainted. In this post, we'll introduce you to the wonders of Costco Canada and explain everything you need to know about shopping there.

The Costco Wholesale Concept

First of all, who should we credit with the invention of a store where you can buy or do — quite literally — almost anything?

The story begins with an American attorney named Jeff Brotman. After a trip to France, he came back inspired to open a European-style wholesaler in the US. He teamed up with retail executive Jim Sinegal to open the first Costco warehouse location in Seattle, Washington, in 1983.

Their philosophy was simple: Stock fewer high-quality items and keep costs low so customers can enjoy the savings. The concept worked immediately, as the company grew from nothing to $3 billion in sales in less than six years.

Through the 1980s and early 1990s, Costco continued to thrive and expand. Then, in 1993, Costco merged with Price Club, another warehouse brand with a similar business model and size.

For a few years, the merged company became known as "PriceCostco." Members of one store could shop at the other location and vice versa. Soon the Price brothers went on to form another (unrelated) price club chain in Central America, leaving Costco free to rebrand itself.

In 1997, Costco officially became the Costco Wholesale Corporation. Meanwhile, all remaining Price Club locations were rebranded as Costco. By 2021, Costco had expanded to more than 800 stores worldwide, including over 100 locations in Canada.

What Is The Costco Business Centre?

While traditional Costcos cater to individuals, Costco Business Centres cater to small businesses and other enterprises. In fact, more than half of the offerings in a Costco Business Centre are different than what you'll find at a regular store location.

Here are some of the departments you'll find:

  • School & Office Supplies
  • Maintenance & Cleaning
  • Health & Beauty
  • Candy & Snacks
  • Grocery & Beverages
  • Restaurant Supplies
  • Seasonal Items
  • Disposables
  • Automotive

Business Centres are open to all Costco members, regardless of the type of membership they have. They offer many business perks like phone and internet plans, payroll services, logo design, and self-storage units.

You can also place your order online and use their delivery service, which is a lifesaver for busy business owners.

The Costco Pharmacy

Another terrific feature of most Costco Canada stores is the Costco Pharmacy. Canadian residents can easily refill their prescriptions in person or online, even if they don't yet have a Costco membership.

Prescriptions filled online are mailed from a central location in the corresponding province. It's important to note that Costco Pharmacies in Quebec are independently owned and operated by Grégoire Arakelian Pharmacies.

As you might expect, Costco Pharmacy is also on the leading edge of the fight against COVID-19. You can easily book an appointment for the vaccination and receive other health-related tips and advice.

Here's a list of the health insurance providers that Costco Pharmacy accepts:

  • Alberta Blue Cross
  • Assure Health
  • Assure (Sun Life)
  • Assure (Great West Life)
  • Canadian Armed Forces
  • Canadian Benefit Provider Inc
  • Claim Secure
  • Esorse
  • Express Scripts Canada
  • Express Scripts (Empire life)
  • Express Scripts (Desjardins)
  • Express Scripts (Industrial Alliance)
  • Express Scripts (RWAM)
  • Express Script (Manulife)
  • Green Shield Canada
  • Interim Federal Health Plan
  • Johnson's Insurance
  • MDM
  • Manitoba Blue Cross
  • Nexgen Rx
  • NIHB
  • ODB
  • ODB (Trillium)
  • ODB (ODSP)
  • Ontario Blue Cross
  • Public Services Health Care Plan
  • Pacific Blue Cross
  • RCMP
  • SSQ Financial Group
  • Simple Employee Solutions Benefits
  • Veteran's Affairs
  • Workers Compensation

If you have specific questions about your medication or your insurance, check the FAQ page or call the Costco Pharmacy nearest you.

Costco Pharmacy Hours

Exact hours will vary by location. However, most pharmacies are:

  • Open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday
  • Open from 9 am to 6 pm on Saturdays
  • Closed on Sundays

Keep in mind that Costco's Prescriptions by Mail services are available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

costco canada online shopping

Costco Canada Online Shopping: A Must Use

There are more Costco Canada stores opening every year, but what if you don't live within driving distance of one? Does that mean you'll have to wait for a location to open near you?

Not at all! With Costco Online, you can enjoy all the shopping and savings benefits from the comfort of your home or office. You can place an online order for delivery or, if you prefer, arrange for warehouse pickup.

Here are some of the best features and a small sampling of what to buy at Costco Canada online.

Costco Grocery

With this service, you can have non-perishable food items and household supplies delivered right to your door. Costco Grocery isn't just convenient, but you can also enjoy even more savings than you would in-store.

With just a few clicks, you can order your favourite Kirkland Signature items, as well as your staple pantry goods and household supplies. There's an array of organic, vegan, and gluten-free foods to suit any dietary needs. You'll also enjoy fantastic savings by buying your meat, seafood, and cheeses in bulk.

In the Warehouse

You'll find much more than you bargained for at Costco's In the Warehouse.

This online section introduces you to some of Costco's best features including:

  • Membership services
  • Custom installation services
  • Appliance protection plans
  • Discount travel packages
  • Optical centre
  • Photo centre

You can also check current gasoline prices, as most Costcos feature their own discounted gas stations.

This Weeks Treasure Hunt

It's hard to beat Costco's already-low prices, but their Treasure Hunt section features additional savings opportunities for some of their most popular products.

For example, you could stock up on a 180-count box of Tim Horton's coffee pods for your Keurig machine. With winter coming, you're sure to see discounts on jackets, coats, and thermal underlayers. You might even score a great deal on a new laptop or tablet!

Hot Buys

Similar to the Treasure Hunt, Hot Buys features flash sales on new and popular items. You'll find everything from face cream to patio furniture here, so it's always worth browsing to see what's trending.

Recently we've seen great deals on kitchenware, such as a three-piece braiser and skillet set. This is also the place to look for the best prices on health and beauty products.

Going, Going Gone

If you browse the Going, Going Gone page, you'll find terrific discounts on end-of-season or discontinued items. This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on items you'll need for next year's change of seasons.

For example, at the end of the summer, you'll see deals on sandals, tank tops, sundresses, and shorts. As winter draws to a close, you could stock up on warm outerwear or underlayers.

Costco Canada Liquor Sales: They Have That Too

Yes, you can even buy high-quality wine and spirits proudly made under the Kirkland Signature Brand. You can browse the Costco Canada Liquor page to get an idea of their offerings, but for legal reasons, you'll need to visit a store in person to make your purchase.

First-time shoppers are often amazed by the high quality of Costco's signature liquors. Their French vodka, for example, is so good that it's virtually identical to the taste of Grey Goose. You can also find an array of gin, rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, cordials, and wine.

How Much Is Costco Canada Membership? Are They Worth It?

What do you need to do to access these incredible savings and deals? Simply sign up for the Costco membership card that best suits your needs and budget. It's a small price to pay for the benefits you'll enjoy.

Here's a brief overview of your options.

Gold Star Membership

For a $60 annual fee, you can sign up for Costco's basic personal membership program. This allows you to shop at all Costco locations worldwide and online. It includes two membership cards (for you and someone else in your family) as well as a 2% reward on qualified purchases.

Gold Star Executive Membership

For a $120 annual fee, you can upgrade your membership to executive status. You'll still enjoy the same perks as the standard gold membership, but you'll also have access to extra benefits and savings on Costco Travel products and Costco Services.

Business Membership

For $60 annually, company owners can sign up for a Costco business membership. It includes two household cards and also allows you to add up to six additional people. Members enjoy exclusive deals on business supplies and resale products, as well as access to Costco Business Centres.

Business Executive Membership

For $120 annually, you can upgrade your business membership to business executive membership. This opens the door to additional savings on business and travel products and services. 

The Costco Flyer: Full of Even Better Deals

Costco doesn't want its members to miss even a single deal. That's why they send out their weekly Costco flyer (via email or regular mail) to keep everyone in the loop on the best items on sale.

With the Costco Flyer, you'll see exactly how much you'll save (in dollars off or a percentage discount) on featured promotional items. Business members can check the Warehouse Instant Savings page to see the week's current specials.

Otherwise, you can grab a flyer when you visit the store or do a quick online search to find the latest deals in your area.

Costco Canada Payment Methods

To round out our discussion, let's review your payment methods for shopping at Costco in person or online.

As of 2021, you can complete your Costco purchases using:

  • Cash
  • Visa credit card
  • Debit/ATM card
  • EBT card
  • Costco Shop card
  • Cheque (with valid photo ID)

What about Mastercard? Interestingly, Capital One Bank and Costco teamed up back in 2014 to launch a Mastercard exclusively for Costco members. The partnership failed for a number of reasons, and Costco has yet to announce its next credit card partner.

Prior to the Capital One partnership, Costco Canada had teamed up with American Express for 15 years. Meanwhile, American Costcos partner with CitiBank and only accept Visa cards. It's too soon to tell what changes are in store for future Costco Canada payment methods, so stay tuned!

Become a Costco Canada Member & Start Saving Today

If you were unfamiliar with the Costco Canada concept, we hope we've convinced you to check it out for yourself. Whether you visit a location near you or you shop at Costco Canada online, you'll wonder why you didn't start shopping there sooner.

Annual memberships are a bargain when you consider the savings possibilities that open up to you. You'll enjoy a wide range of high-quality Kirkland Signature products for much less than you'd pay for similar brands at the grocery store. You also gain access to terrific savings on travel, prescription medications, household appliances, and business supplies.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a membership and start enjoying these amazing savings in 2021!

Speaking of savings, would you like to pay less for your insurance rates? Insurdinary provides terrific quotes and offers on everything from medical insurance to renter's insurance. Request your free no-obligation quote today to see how much you can save.

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