Costco expert's survival guide to super-sized shopping
MEET Ipswich's Costco expert.
Mother of eight Linda Carter has spent years navigating the aisles of Costco warehouses in Australia the US, learning how to drive the super-sized trolleys, hunting the best bargains and products and developing a tried and tested Costco survival guide.
She has become an expert at Costco etiquette, the best methods for packing her car to get her grocery bounty home and the must-try treats at the Costco food court.
Her official Costco Geek accreditation and membership in one of the most sought after clubs in the world is a well-deserved accolade and one she will share with thousands of other Ipswich shoppers in anticipation for the Bundamba store opening in November.
"We lived in America for three years, in Colorado, and stumbled across Costco there and we got very excited when we realised we only had top shop for groceries once a month," Ms Carter said.
"We came back to Queensland in 2005 and we moved to Ipswich in 2013.
"It sounds silly but when the Bundamba store opens, it is going to be absolutely life-changing. It will be a 15-minute drive and everything I need will be there. Once you buy something at Costco, you don't need to buy it again or six months. Everything is geared towards bulk shopping.
"It is going be to amazing."
Ms Carter and her family normally travel to Costco at North Lakes four times a year and spend up to $900 on non-perishables.
She said she saved hundreds of dollars a year compared to shopping at regular grocery stores.
"It is significantly cheaper," Ms Carter said
Children Tessa, nine, Paul and Miriam, 12, Timothy, 14, Lily, 17, Sean, 19, Shannon, 20, and Joshua, 22, are well accustomed to the thrills of a Costco pantry.
"The jam tastes just like how my grandma used to make it and the coffee is great," Ms Carter said.
"It's worth the hype, it's fabulous. It's awesome and it's going to help so many families."
A shopping-list must is Swiss-Miss, a hot chocolate sachet known globally as 'Costco Crack'.
"Swiss-Miss is a very special hot chocolate," Ms Carter said.
"It's nick named Costco Crack because it's so addictive. When Costco North Lakes first opened it sold out and people got so desperate for it, they started bidding for it on the internet."
She said the initial membership fee was a small price to pay for the savings.
"Yes, the $65 membership fee is worth it. Hands down, totally worth it and you will recoup it many times over," she said.
"A member can take up to two adult visitors into the warehouse, but the visitors cannot buy anything using their own EFTPOS or credit card. It is bad form to get mad at the checkout staff for this rule.
"Be a mate and buy your mate a membership. When Costco first opens, the membership services queue will be enormous. It's best to get your membership card before your first visit.
"You can join online and possibly collect your card before opening day. You will be happy you did."
She said shoppers should expect Coles and Myer quality products at Aldi prices and in larger quantities.
Domestic Costco stores mainly stocked Australian made products and there was a lot more on offer than giant pizzas and bottomless fizzy drinks.
Bulk organic, raw and vegan products were also on offer.
Ms Carter said some of the best buys were giant birthday cakes, toilet paper, coffee and pizza.
"They have great deals on brand name clothing, but there are no fitting rooms. No, you cannot try things on in the toilets. There is no parents' room and no comfy places to feed your baby. It's a good idea to leave bubs with a sitter, or wear them in a sling to feed," she said.
"Costco have great seasonal items, especially around Halloween and Christmas. Easter is a great time to shop for girls' dresses, as the Easter dress is a time honoured American tradition."