Friday, July 22, 2011

Costco Sydney Review, Wooo Hooo Mate

The rain here has been torrential, and I had planned on having a quiet day at home, catching up on the many things neglected during the kids three week winter break.

As I pulled into the house from school drop off (8:45 this morning), my mobile (it's not a "cell phone" here, mate) rang, it was one of my Aussie-MumMates-Down-Under, and this is how it went:

The Convo: 
Her:  You'll never guess where I am?

Me:  Wheeeerrre???

Her:  Costco!!!!!

Me:  Omigod!  Is it packed?? Omigod!

Her:  It's empty.

Me:  Shut up!  I want to come!

So we get off the phone, I call my other girlfriend... and within minutes, me and girlfriend were off to the races!  We bolted, in her mini-van (with ample storage), over to Parramatta Road in Lidcombe, to check out Costco Sydney, yeee- haw.

It was Grand Opening chaos as we pulled up to the massive warehouse; police cars blocked the entrance, as the carpark (that's Aussie for "parking lot") was full.  We were directed to the shopping mall across the street, parked quickly without issue, and then followed the parade of "new Gold-Star Members" through the crosswalk, up the ramps and into the Costco entrance.

By the way, you can stop by for lunch without entering Costco and have a "all pork" Costco hotdog (not the all-beef they are known for in America) or a refreshing beverage, as the snack area is not actually inside the store itself.   It's funny because later in the day an employee was telling us, and she was really giddy with excitement about it, that you can get free refills on your drink from the snack area-- it reminded me, we definitely aren't in Kansas anymore and Australia is still a very different place.

Anywho, let's just say this-- Costco definitely wasn't empty when we got there! haha

So we probably only covered about 30% of the store during our probably 2+ hours there, as it was absolutely beyond jam-packed;  there were staff literally, boxed into a tiny spot on the floor unable to move.  Massive gridlock-- though there were a few aisles we were able to cruise through without issue.

And here's what they had...

American stuff you don't see often in Australia like:
  • Bounce Dryer Sheets
  • Febreeze
  • Poppycock Popcorn Snack
  • Lots of Kitchenaid items, though they seemed to be at normal Aussie prices
  • Many Kirkland brand (that's Costco's private label) items-- like coffee, baby wipes, lots of other widely-used American Kirkland items
  • And...
Downy Fabric Softener, so nice to see you old Ameri-friend, too bad you've been replaced with Epsom Salt.

Dr pepper
Australians have no idea what Dr. Pepper is, as proven by the convo (that's Aussie for "conversation") heard next to the Dr. Pepper cases.

Kosher Dill Vlasic Pickles down under, wow.

I never thought I'd be so happy to see Lay's.  I would probably never buy them in the US with all the other choices, but here, just seeing the logo gave me a little smile.

OMG... I thought I hit the jackpot when I saw this-- then I noticed the Kirkland brand Organic Peanut Butter-- it's like the US Smuckers brand style-- all natural, no sugar, needs to be stirred.  That was a real win for my six year old and he doesn't even know it yet.

This makes me feel like I'm at Costco.

Definitely something you don't see in Australia.

Best baby wipes in the world.

Should've, could've, would've.  Damn, why didn't I get the Swiss Miss???

Duh, it would be Costco Australia without insanely large tubs of Vegemite.

Lamb cutlets, you've made my life a lot easier, thank you for converting my vegetarian six year old back to meat.

Passionfruit, something we've learned to love, especially with vodka.

Massive boxes of Weet-bix, it's like the Wheeties of Australia; perhaps you could say it's the national breakfast cereal?

Random list of other things they had:
  • Twinning tea massive pack of 3 varieties.
  • Beef fillet for $31.99/kilo (which is pronounced in Australia like it rhymes with "skillet" instead of with "ballet")-- that's about half the price than our local butcher.
  • Treadmills, TVs, Vacuum Cleaners, Small Appliances of all kinds.
  • Walk in refrigerator full of fresh produce like kilo sized bags of asapargus (that's 2.2llbs), ginormous bags of baby spinach and rocket (Aussie for "arugula"), leeks (the new onion in my house), and container of beautiful baby-capsicums (capsicums = bell peppers) that my Fiery Redhead taught me to roast to perfection.  
  • Swingsets, they call them "cubbyhouses" here.
  • Books.
  • Clothes
  • Fresh Pizzas-- the boxes say "Take and Bake" $15.99 for a seafood pizza that looked amazing.
  • Larger than normal packs of:  milk, eggs, yogurts, all kinds of frozen items,
Disappointed that they didn't have American breakfast cereals.

Disappointed to see the Kitchenaid appliances were the same price as other Aussie stores.

Disappointed the Costco hotdogs were not the all-beef ones from the US, all-pork Aussie-style ones are just not at all the same. 

    View from the cashier line chaos.

    And after waiting about thirty minutes in line to check out, maybe less-- we put our Costco Rainy Day Escape Plan into action.  My friend was going to get the her car at the mall across the street, while I waited with the two Costco carts at the Tyre Centre (that's Aussie for "Tire Center":)

    And if it wasn't already our lucky day-- well guess what, it was about to be.

    As it was raining cats and dogs, my friend organizes permission from the police brigade to enter the "full" Costco carpark and pick me up with the goods.  She arrives, backs the mini-van, which makes me miss my American Honda Odyssey (the Aussie one is a stationwagon type vehicle), right under a nice convenient awning at the Tyre station so we can load, when one of the Tyre Centre guys comes out and says something about a flat tire-- and we're thinking he's probably shooing us away from stopping in that area.  Then we realize, he's actually saying we've got a flat tire.

    Can you imagine, a flat tire discovered while your car is parked illegally in front of a Tyre Centre?  Haha, it doesn't get much luckier than that :).  


    Needless to say, three new tires and three new //Costco-employee-best-friends later... we were on our way home to do school pick up and tell our children how lucky the are to have mums (aka "moms") who buy them Costco-size cases of single-serving Pringles.
    Costco Sydney/Auburn/ Lidcombe/ or whatever confusing suburb you're in.....
    You rock!



    ChiTown Girl said...

    This was great! I actually went to Costco for the first time in about 10 years with my mother and sister last week. My trip was not nearly as enjoyable as yours. Actually, mine was pure hell!!! Glad you enjoyed yourself. :)

    Jenny said...

    This post made me smile! I bet you had so much fun. I wonder if anyone in Australia has an oven big enough for the "take and bake" pizzas. The ones in the US costco are HUGE.

    Dina said...

    Glad you enjoyed your time in Costco! They really do have a lot of American stuff.

    I wish America would get a massive store that sold a ton of Australian stuff.

    Your friends tires have really good timing.

    Lovely Rita said...

    hello, I am a friend of Becca's Mom in law. Love your blog, very funny, added it to my favorites.

    Mama Echo said...

    I'm so glad I found your blog!! We are currently living in MT and moving to Brisbane at the end of summer. I have very little time to get all my s%&t in order. Your blog is SO helpful. Any advice for a soon to be expat?

    PS Is there a costco in Brisbane? Probably not... so sad... that would have been nice.

    PamelaRose said...

    OMG! The chaos at the check out photo looks exactly like Costco here!! I swear!
    I'm so excited and happy for you and your mates...Kirkland, Lays, Swiss Miss! Woot!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Chitown- Yeah, distance makes the heart grow fonder and the Costco appreciation factor goes up exponentially when you can't go for years on end.

    Jenny- That is sooo funny-- and thinking about it, I bet those pizzas won't fit in some ovens, wonder how that's going over??

    Dina- I think that would have to be a quite small store, maybe a mini-woolies?

    Lovely Rita- Thanks!

    PR- Totally! xoxo

    traceyleigh said...

    I'm a hopeless Costco addict. I blame Dina and Tim for taking me there when we were all in Hawaii. I was so excited when I moved back to Melbourne knowing that they have Costco.

    I bought the enourmous tub of vegemite of course ;-)

    And the pizza..I've bought em, baked em and ate em. They fit in my oven (just as there is a slight overhang causing spillage which annoys me). I found it a bit hit and miss with the varieties though. No one in the family liked the meatlovers, even the dog (who eats ANYTHING).

    I am disappointed too in the lack of a decent discount on the appliances.

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    tracey- I'll keep that in mind about the meatlovers & btw, did you go to Costco in Hawaii just to check it out-- certainly you couldn't have bought much on vacation right?

    The Taskers said...

    I think I almost cried when I saw your photo of Stacy's Pita Chips - I definitely kinda chirped outloud. I am sooooo jealous; no doubt Perth won't get a Costco for, um, never ever. I don't think I would have looked at one single price and thought "crap that's expensive" - I just would have bought and bought and bought.

    I've heard that there's some guy on the internet who will go to Costco for you and ship it around Australia; now that I know Stacy's and Skippy and Swiss Miss are available, I may just have to look into this!

    surfermom said...

    Thank you so much for the pics! I am on Hols in the US right now and cannot wait to get home (central coast) in August and check it out. I have been stocking up here at Costco HAHA

    Lauren said...

    Ruffles! You know we actually used to have Ruffles when I was growing up, in the 80s and early 90s. They were my favourite chips, and I remember being super excited when I visited my now-husband. I wonder why regular Aussie stores stopped selling them!

    Indira Newell said...

    Great blog :) There's a great Facebook page of American expats in Australia if you are interested - its - a great group of people!

    I think I almost cried when I saw the Swiss Miss with Marshmallows!!!

    I've been to the Costco in Melbourne - Sydney is closer and someday maybe we'll get one in Brisbane!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Taskers- A personal Costco shopper?? Wow!! And why wouldn't Perth have a Costco?? That's not good!

    surfermom- That's what we used to do-- stock up on Kirkland baby wipes, bounce, ziplocs (the good thicker ones), etc. Oh and Press N Seal-- they didn't have it here, but I need some!!!

    Lauren- They used to have Ruffles here-- maybe Smith's stomped all over them?? It's funny because walking around Costco yesterday I kept thinking, hmmm-- now I can't get straight if they have this already in Australia or not???!

    Indira- Thanks for your note,
    someone else had just emailed me from the group also! I hope your Brisbane Costco happens!!

    Natasha said...

    As an Aussie, I really enjoy your posts and just shared this on on my facebook page because i felt as though I was with you the whole trip (tyres and all). Love all of your fab tips and hoping to take the kids to Disneyland next year. So I'm sure I'll feel just like a local once there thanks to you... Oh, and I'll make a trip to the new Costco, have not been to one in years!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Hi Natasha- Thanks for your note, you're like the 5th person in 24 hours to tell me they are going to Disneyland-- I'm jealous!!!

    Tierney said...

    Yay for you! I am an expat living in Melbourne. I bought that $30 pack of Dr. Pepper the week after I arrived. After seeing your blog, I helped myself to one of them I had remaining in the fridge. Costco is a little different than at home (no online ordering, small frozen food section) but still has great deals and it can make you very happy seeing things you miss. Can't beat that lunch area either. And they have pretty decent Cappuccinos for only $2!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Tierney- Cappuccino noted, definitely will stop for one next time! And probably will cave and buy the Dr. Pepper too, one sounds sooo good right now.

    Jen said...

    can you ask them to build one in newcastle??? I would love to go there!!!!

    Lindsay McHugh said...

    This reminded me of when I worked at the Costco opening in Melbourne!

    All I can say is that I miss Bounce dryer sheets, Ruffles and Skippy more than I can say.

    Oh, and I could use some Swiss Miss with the week we've had in Sydney!

    steck said...

    So, do they have Boca Burgers? I used to live on those things.

    I used to ride my bicycle and trailer to the Costco in PDX. Needless to say, mine was the only bike in the lot, mired among all the SUVs. My trailer can hold 100 lbs of stuff, which is a lot of Boca Burgers.

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Jen- I will forward your request to the powers that be :)

    Lindsay- Sounds like you need to hit Costco asap.

    Steck- Didn't do the freezer aisle at all because we figured between the checkout line and 40 minute drive home, we'd end up with a melted waste of whatever. But if you don't make it there before my next visit, I'll update you on what I find.

    crazygalpalval said...

    Thank you for letting me know about the cereal thing, very important.

    I am now on the quest to find out the answer to 3 very important questions about this Costco. Hidden Valley Ranch, Churros and Liquor?

    Im from los angeles, lived in Sydney for two months.

    Allison said...

    Oh I can't wait to go! Just can't wait!!! At first, I thought no way am I going to go, it is far, it is crowded etc...but once I saw your pics and the pics on the news I can not resist. I HEART COSTCO! Do they have regular American size papertowels?

    riesdownunder said...

    Thank you so much for your post on COSTCO!! I can't wait to go. I am tearing up now - It's been 3 yrs : and I really miss it. The kids will be insanely happy to have that swiss miss w/ the marshmellows. I am hoping it won't be so super crowded this weekend.

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Crazygalpalval- Definitely no Hidden Valley Ranch, they had something with a ripoff type label that looked like it, but the ranch inside looked totally different. Don't know about churros. And they had HUGE liquor department!!

    Allison- I didn't see the full-size papertowels, but they may have them!

    riesdownunder- I think I'm scared to go this weekend, though I'm already ready to go back-- to show my hubby!

    Alaskan Forget Me Not said...

    What laundry powder do you girls use? I have a front loader and I currently use Supreme. It doesn't wash out very well in cold water and I have to always do a double rinse. Thank you for the idea of using Epsom Salt! I am an Alaskan that's been here for almost 4 years. I seriously wanted to tear up when I heard about the opening. Gonna get a membership card for my birthday :P

    Alaskan Forget Me Not said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Anonymous said...

    Just to let you and other americans know not all american hotdogs are beef!!!! in the south of the usa pork as well as chicken and turkey hotdogs are quite common and as a fellow floridian living in sydney i am glad costcos has Bryan All pork hotdogs.....the same hotdogs i grew up eating as a child in florida and they are great and only cost 11.69 a pack so we bought a case. Sorry it just grinds my gears that soo many "yanks" think that american hotdogs are made from beef and whinge about it, Even on the yanks down under ...

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Alaskan- I use Ecostore brand liquid, we have very sensitive skin in this house and I'm still not sure what we should be using! But Epsom salt in place of fabric softener really does work.

    Anonymous- I deleted the last comment I left you because I'll just assume there's something sad in your day that would cause you to need to write a strange comment like that here. Clearly I was not saying all American hot dogs are beef. Not sure where the disconnect is for you, but what I said was, Costco US's cafes have "all-beef" hotdogs and I was disappointed to see the Aussie Costco did not have the same ones.

    Anonymous said...

    Na nothing wrong with my day i was just having fun and teasing ya ,wasnt trying to be mean .... When the mrs. And i were at costcos the other day there was a fella there who got really angry about pork hotdogs. sorry ya miss understood my humor judging by your first comment lol.i was going to post on ydu aswell but after ya got offended i figured i best not ... dont want ta upset anyone else again im sorry ya got upset because of my smartass humor

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Fine, I take it all back. Did I mention I was having a cranky day?

    C. In Oz said...

    Almost did a cartwheel (as if I could actually do a cartwheel since I was 14) when I saw the Skippy picture! We're going tomorrow - can't wait to see it all for myself. Thanks for the preview!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    C in Oz- Hope you are having Costco fun as I type this-- I have other friends who are there today also! I'm jealous.

    Anonymous said...

    just stumbled upon your post and i think it's hilarious. costco should give woolworths and coles a really good competition and expect their prices to go further down. the variety and sizes are crazy. my family, including myself will have to become members of our local gym especially for the coming summer :)

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Anonymous- Especially if you buy the jumbo pack of Costco croissants, which by the way, I heard are fantastic-- though personally I was eying a 3 pack of some kind of cake loaves...

    Caro said...

    I went with a girlfriend yesterday and had a BALL!!! The croissants are good, the strawberries divine and the Korean Beef Bulgolgi was amazing for dinner last night!!!

    I am going back again tomorrow with another girlfriend. One funny thing we did notice was that the toilet paper packs are actually more expensive per roll than woollies!!

    Love the blog tho - have a girlfriend who has just moved to Pasadena CA and is adjusting the culture shock as well!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Caro- I'll have to check out the Korean beef thing! I did see on the news that the toilet paper at Costco was 1/3 of the price of Woolies and Coles-- and that looked right to me?? I hope to go again next week-- I can make it "Mission Toilet Paper" haha

    Anonymous said...

    I love your blog! I live in Fort Lauderdale and have only been to Sydney once but would love to go there again. I bookmarked your blog about 2 years ago and pop in every once in a while to see your stories. :) --Heather

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Hi Heather, thanks for you nice comments-- glad you like my blog and hope you get to come back to Sydney for another visit soon!

    HogsAteMySister said...

    I emigrated from Texas to Nu Zillans in 1983. Things were so dire that I was THRILLED to bit when I discovered The Warehouse near the waterfront - dim and on a rough concrete floor. Things are a bit better now, but I am totally coveting your Costco. Stupid Tasman.

    Kim said...

    I have a store in Sydney with a range of American snacks, I've made three trips to Costco in the past two weeks! I was extremely surprised that they didn't have Lucky Charms, that's one of my big sellers!

    So glad I stumbled onto your blog, because everytime I read it I learn something new haha. I had no idea that Downy was an American brand, we've been selling that brand for about two years and I always thought it was a product of the Philippines!

    Just a random thought: I'm surprised you were able to take such good photos! When I went there the aisles were way too packed with people and oversized trolleys to get a decent photo!

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Kim- And are you going to leave me wondering where your store is here? American stuff??
    Do tell!

    shenanigans said...

    My boyfriend and I went to Costco recently. It was the weirdest experience of my life - I felt like a Russian going to the first McDonalds in Moscow. Sure I expected all the giant tubs/vats,packets of whatever, but REAL Prada handbags? Bottles of Grange? A $17 500 souvenir whiskey set? Who the hell buys their Prada handbag at Coscto? I'm guessing it business model relies a little on the "panic" factor - ie everyone thinking everything is so cheap that they go overboard. I know we did - doubled our usual grocery bill. And if you work it out, a lot of things aren't exceptionally cheaper. That said: the meat section was very impressive and we won't have to buy tea, toilet paper or fancy Italian sparkling water until the apocalypse comes. More power to Coscto, say I (Oh, I heard SO MANY American accents there, all oohing and ahhing over their fave products. One of them was probably you!)

    Kim said...

    Not sure if this is going to post twice becuase the first one doesn't seem to be appearing...

    Anywayyyy, yes it's a small family owned business in St Marys (western suburbs), currently stock candy bars and sweets like red vines, milk duds, baby ruth's, hersheys, butterfingers etc. Cereals (lucky charms, cookie crisp, trix), drinks-sold individually or in cases(dr pepper, hawaiian punch, mountain dew, welch's etc.), poptarts, smuckers pb&j and a few other things.

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Shenanigans- If you were there last Tuesday that probably was me!! Did you mean a $17,500 whiskey set???? OMG??? What the...?

    Kim- And the name of your yummy store is....?

    Kim said...

    Omg I saw that set! Or something similar, the one I saw was $16 999.99 (to make it sound cheaper than $17,000? haha.)

    It's called Best Oriental Groceries & Hot Food (on Queen Street right near the train station), the American stuff is new, we mostly focus on Filipino and other asian products, but surprisingly there's a decent market here for US foods, both Aussies and Americans seem to love them!

    Jenny said...

    Hey.. I am from Tennessee and having been living in Australia almost a year now.. It was so refreshing to read this post.. haha.. i get so excited when i see common everyday items from the US that i havent been able to find here. Will defo look into visiting costco real soon. Thanks.

    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Thanks for that Kim!

    Jenny- You must go, so awesome! Just got home from an excursion there this morning in fact!

    Anonymous said...

    Kevin - Sydney

    May i ask if Costco stocks SECRET deodorants/anti-perspirant. I've been looking everywhere at Costco in Auburn Sydney but couldn't seem to find those.Any Costco savvy shoppers can help at all? i've been buying them via ebay by the way and i got my Costco card a month ago...i did buy some Bounce papers ^_^ , thanks

    Unknown said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Jen A said...

    Florida Girl- My hubby will be leaving at the end of the month for Melbourne. He will be working down there for 6 months and he found your blog to learn more about living in Australia. We are having lots of fun reading about your experiences. We live in Seattle area - home of Costco, so we understand your enthusiasm. :-)At least he will feel at home there. The kids and I will get to come down in December for a few weeks. I am an ebay seller and would be happy to assist any expats with any American product needs or personal shopping. Since hubby will be gone so long, I will have to resign from my job. I can provide my contact info for anyone interested.

    Anonymous said...

    Hi, Florida girl. I'm a Georgia girl who has just arrive (although I lived in Palm Beach, too!)

    Thanks for this - I've been dying to see the Costco, but as I just bought a car on Friday, I'm a little afraid of the drive! Loved the descriptions - and you gave me hope that they might have pickles!


    Florida Girl In Sydney said...

    Kevin- I'm not sure about Secret deoderant, didn't look closely in that dept-- and are you a female named Keven, or are you taking the whole "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." slogan literally? haha

    Jen A- Hope your hubby has a good time in Melbourne, I haven't spent much time there but people love it!

    Georgia Girl- I was also scared of the drive, I'm a total chicken of driving here-- but I put my big girl pants on and did it! Just do it girl!

    Jessica said...

    We used to have Ruffles here (Back in the day) and they made a recent come back a few years ago. I think our market is just too small to have the amount of hmm... "stuff" Americans have! :P

    wendyworldly said...

    As a Canadian who has lived in Oz for almost 25 years I found your comments funny and I related to many...bring on the (North)American cereal selection, Triscuits, graham wafers (Nabisco) and so many other things we grew up loving to eat! I have been waiting for the crowds to die down before I head out and I think today might just be the day to do it...wish me luck!

    Confusha said...

    OMG, thanks so much for shairing! I've been in Sydney for 6 years... from New Jersey/Washington DC... and I am just a kid in a candy store (or an expat at costco) Loved reading!!!

    Jerome said...

    Hey just read your blog. There's a company that has everything from Costco on a website and delivers. out of Melbourne but they do send stuff to Sydney as well. Worth a look

    Kate said...

    WOW! Roughly how much was the 24 case of Dr Pepper worth???

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks Florida girl

    Did you happen to notice if they had graham crackers? Those pickles look good!

    Buffalo girl

    Christine said...

    I'm attempting Costco tomorrow! yippie! I fear I will buy stuff I would have never bought in the US just because I can buy it here! So sad to hear they didn't have US cereals.

    Buffalo girl: I'll see about graham crackers!

    I so wished they had Bounty and Secret deodorant. Those are my too ridiculous misses from the US!

    Anonymous said...

    moved from NC to NSW 2 yrs ago. LOVE LOVE LOVE that costco is here. Now all I need is a storm door (like I had in NC) for my front door and I will be a happy camper!

    Anonymous said...

    Does anyone know if Costco stocks mini marshmallows?

    Anonymous said...

    Shopped at Coles & Woollies for over 20 years and made use of every single benefit they had to offer (flybuys/rewards) and used to think Aldi was a better deal nowadays. But then window shopped at Costco.
    Voo Hoo: Every item is almost 50% less than Coles and Woolworths and 25% less than Aldi (with brands they sell you never heard of & sometimes the quality is real bad, like Dentitex Toothpaste)
    So for 60 bucks you get stuff for almost half price and renowned brands – that’s snacks, food, Deli, electronics, electrical and booze as well (well almost every product in store) & now comes the big one FUEL (you’ll be amazed at the price)