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CostCo: What is the BIG fuss?


I have a confession to make – I’m no longer a Costco virgin. 

Last week I visited the mega store in Boolaroo for the first time, to find out what all the fuss is about. 

Surrounded by the Weemala residential development at Cockle Creek, you may not have reason to travel to this up-and-coming area unless you knew this monstrous warehouse was here. 

And, without an annual membership, you wouldn’t make it past the front door. 

Thankfully I had both – a friend with a current membership, and years of experience in shopping at the United States’ retail giant. 

From its extra-large car parks to its oversized shopping trolleys (or should I say carts), this $49 million-dollar structure is BIG. 

Taking up a whopping 14,000 square metre land sprawl, plus an onsite petrol station, it’s hard not to miss the massive warehouse with its red, white and blue logo. 

CostCo is located at the site of Pasminco’s former lead and zinc smelter which was closed in 2003, leaving behind a toxic legacy of heavy metal contamination after more than 100 years of operation.  

Remediation and development of the site fell under the NSW Government’s care in 2019, before ownership was transferred to the Hunter Central Coast Development Corporation (HCCDC) – a move supported by Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper and LMCC mayor Kay Fraser – both believing development would attract at least $1 billion in investment to the area. 

This is also the land that in 2019 was rumoured to one day be home to Swedish furniture giant IKEA.

Buying BIG: CostCo equals a $49 Million investment in Lake Macquarie

It’s easy to see from the outset that this is no ordinary shopping centre. 

Lucky for me, after three years spent living in US, my friend (with the membership card) quickly became the ideal tour guide. 

“This is what America smells like,” she said as soon as we entered. 

A blend of pork sausage, sweet chocolate and up-sized baked goods was what struck me first, I had no idea we’d be tempted with food while we were shopping. 

I should never have arrived on an empty stomach, that was my first mistake. 

My senses were overloaded.  

The sheer size of the structure and the array of items is almost overwhelming. 

From $250,000 diamond rings to Star Wars pinball machines, $30 Puma sneakers, furniture, garden tools, hot dogs and refillable soda for $1.99, Easter eggs, 2 kg bulk mince, coffins (yes, coffins) and artificial turf. 

What the…???

CostCo is a membership only warehouse club first opened in an aircraft hangar in California in 1976.  

It boasts large buying power, relying on its own delivery vehicles and even chartering its own container ships to trim overhead costs. 

“To eliminate most operating costs, products are packaged, displayed on their original shipping pallets and sold in bulk quantities in a no-frills, warehouse setting,” its marketing states. 

“By handling the product as little as possible, costs stay low.” 

Bulk buying can be overwhelming for some shoppers. It’s easy to get carried away with thinking everything is on offer at a bargain price, and you will need a home with plenty of storage to house all your purchases. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the products, particularly the fruit and vegetables, were Australian. 

But, it’s a bit like a good movie, I’ve seen it but I’d be keen to go again, if my tour guide will take me! 

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