At the time, the beets seemed like a good idea. Precooked and vacuum-packed, the package of reasonably priced organic veggies beckoned to me from the refrigerator case at Costco. I tossed them in my cart, envisioning all the nourishing salads and other healthy meals I’d make for myself. But most of those beets eventually ended up in the trash, not on my plate. I’d seriously overestimated my enthusiasm for the root vegetable. I did eat some of them, but once opened, the contents of the individual packets quickly turned moldy. Soon the remaining beets got pushed to the back of the fridge, where they languished way past their expiration date.
I’m hardly the first person to have bought something at Costco only to discover it wasn’t the bargain I expected. Promises of big savings encourage consumers to load up their carts with pallets of toilet paper and massive quantities of canned goods. American shoppers spent more than $79 billion at the warehouse club in 2014, making it the third largest retailer in the U.S. But stocking up at Costco doesn’t equal automatic savings.
For products that have a long shelf life, buying in bulk at Costco is a no-brainer. Unopened frozen vegetables will stay good for up to two years, according to Real Simple. Alkaline batteries are good for seven years. Cleaning supplies, such as wood polish and Windex, can last a couple of years.
Other Costco products have a much shorter useful life or can be found for less at stores, such as Amazon or your local supermarket. In other cases, the low price tag is also a sign of lower quality. Before you load up your cart, check out this list of 15 things you should never buy at Costco.
1. Name brand clothing
Some people swear by Costco’s Kirkland brand underwear and socks, but the name brand clothing sold at the discount retailer isn’t always a bargain. Savvy shoppers know much of the designer clothing and accessories sold at outlet stores and malls is specifically made for those outlets. The same is true for Costco.
“Beware that whenever you see name brand clothing or shoes at Costco, they are often made specifically for the warehouse club and are of lesser quality,” said Kyle James of Rather Be Shopping. In other words, don’t snap something up just because it has a designer label slapped on it. The good news? Costco’s generous return policy means you won’t be stuck with a dud if you change your mind after you get the garment home.