You've earned every one of those gray hairs, American shoppers at or close to retirement. Aging baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 -- there are roughly 74 million of them alive today, still outpacing millennials -- are seasoned shoppers. And boomers like to shop. In particular, they like to shop at Costco. More older shoppers prefer the warehouse club over popular retailers such as Walmart and Target, and boomers are more likely than millennials to renew their Costco memberships.
So it makes perfect sense that Costco caters to retirees and near-retirees, despite the stereotype that it only sells bulk items that are too much for an empty nest. As a boomer and regular Costco shopper, I already knew this from personal experience, but recent research trips to my local warehouse club revealed even more deals aimed at the mature market that I hadn’t noticed before. Here are 15 things I found that uniquely appeal to retirees, and bonus: Many Costco stores offer special shopping hours devoted exclusively to those age 60 and up.
Back in the day, I first explained “Why I Bought My Prescription Glasses at Costco,” and since then I bought another pair at Costco, had lenses replaced in older frames, and I'm poised for an eyeglass refresh at the giant retailer. Why Costco? Put simply, I found that the warehouse club offered the best product and service at the best price, especially compared to the retail eyewear outlets conveniently tucked inside your eye doctor’s office.
The ultimate cost of your eyeglasses (or contacts) from Costco depends, of course, on the frames and lenses you choose, but that goes for any retailer. I often see a recurring deal at Costco for $40 off a second pair of glasses after paying the full ride on your first pair (my wife recently bought three pair of prescription glasses for less than $250). And though you may be tempted to use online eyeglass services, remember: Fit is crucial. And try as it might, the Internet isn’t going to fit you properly and adjust your frames as needed. You can also get an eye exam at Costco, done by a licensed optometrist.
Looking for readers and sunglasses? Costco sells Foster Grant reading glasses in packages of three for $18.99, and non-prescription Kirkland Signature polarized and anti-reflective sunglasses for $24.99 a pair.
When Costo released its Kirkland Signature golf balls in 2016, they were an immediate sensation, highly lauded by pros and amateurs alike. They also quickly sold out, as they were compared to the vaunted Titleist Pro V1.
They're back. You can pick up a 24-pack of Kirkland Signature V2.0 Performance three-piece golf balls for $24.99. Costco-branded golf balls typically retail for 60% less than a Titleist.
But wait. There's more: The equally lauded Kirkland Signature KS1 Putter is on Costco shelves for $139.99. Need a bit more in your bag? A Kirkland Signature 3-piece golf wedge set is $159.99.
While you're at it, pick up a four-pack of Kirkland Signature golf gloves -- sizes vary -- for $19.99.
We can't guarantee these Kirkland Signature products will improve your game, but we can guarantee you'll save a few bucks.
Coffins and Urns
At some point we all have to think about the unthinkable. Costco’s right there with you as a cheaper alternative to buying a casket through a funeral home, sometimes five times less expensive, according to reviews (yes, there are reviews). Costco members can go online to purchase a casket for delivery. Standard shipping is included in the online price, but expedited shipping is also available. The shipping address and the billing address must be in one of the 49 states (including the District of Columbia) approved for casket sales (Alaska and Hawaii are out). The Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes to accept any casket purchased from an outside source. Most of the casket prices at Costco.com are $1,149.99; urns range from $90 to $100.
A Hawaiian Vacation From Costco Travel
Now that you have more time on your hands to travel in retirement, say Aloha, Costco! We have our Hawaiian eye on your Kirkland Signature from Costco Travel travel packages. One Kirkland Signature-stamped -- KS is Costo's store brand -- vacation pack features a five-night stay at the Ka'anapali Beach hotel in Maui. The hotel sits "in the heart of Maui's premier resort area fronting world-famous Ka'anapali Beach."
This travel package includes airfare (we priced it from the Washington, D.C., area), five nights for two in an oceanfront room with a partial view of the ocean, a five-day full-size car rental from Budget (Toyota Camry or equivalent), and a $100 tour credit per booking. The total price for two: $3,725 for a January 2022 stay.
Kirkland Signature Wines
Retirement's the time to kick back and live a little. And life's a little brighter with a glass of wine -- especially if it's delicious and a killer bargain.
Costco is the biggest seller of wine in the U.S., with estimated annual wine sales of $1.8 billion, and the warehouse club’s Kirkland Signature wines are a big reason behind the booming demand. As Annette Alvarez-Peters, who heads Costco’s wine-buying team, told Wine Spectator, "The Costco consumer is very loyal to the [Kirkland Signature] brand. They will always give the item a shot.” And why not? Wine rating websites typically give Kirkland Signature wines high scores in the mid-to-upper 80s out of 100.
One hint for picking especially good Kirkland Signature wines: When you see the Costco brand on the front label, turn the bottle around. You just might find the name of the source winery on the back label. That can tell you a lot about the experience of the wine maker and the quality of the grapes. Alternatively, read reviews online. This Costco-centric wine blog, for one, has taste-tested plenty of Kirkland Signature wines. In my own taste-testing of whites, I found a nice Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and a Kirkland Sonoma County Chardonnay for $7.99 each. These are big boys, too,1.5 liter bottles, not the typical 750 milliliters for mass retailers' house wines, including Walmart, with its private label wines called Winemakers Selection, selling for about $5 to $12.99 per bottle, or Aldi, with its Winking Owl varieties, including chardonnay, pinot grigio, shiraz, zinfandel, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, selling for $2.95 a bottle.
Scored that trip to Hawaii? Check. Now what? Time to pack, and whoa, your luggage is ancient. Jet on over to Costco for a suitcase upgrade.
We found a Samsonite Premier II NXT 2-piece softside carry-on spinner luggage and backpack set for a comfortable $149.99. That same set was going for $253.99 at Walmart.
Many boomers who had chickenpox as a kid are being encouraged to get a new shingles shot, particularly the two-shot Shingrix vaccine because of its effectiveness. When I agreed to it at a recent annual physical, my doctor wrote a prescription. Enter Costco, which has an in-store pharmacy where you can get the shingles shot (or shots), as well as other immunizations including flu shots that are recommended for older folks. For people paying out of pocket, Consumer Reports found that vaccinations cost less at Costco than at drug stores such as CVS or Walgreens. Here's a price list for adult immunizations. COVID-19 vaccines are also given at Costco pharmacies, depending on availability.
One drawback: Many, if not all, Costco pharmacies are closed on Sundays.
Don't like to wait in line to pick up your prescription refills at your Costco pharmacy? Check to see if it's one of the Costcos that offer locker pickup. It's a new service that works like this: Refill your prescription using the Costco app, text, or by phone. When your prescriptions are refilled, you'll get a text notifying you they're ready. Click on that link and select "locker" as your pickup method. You'll be texted a unique code to unlock the locker at your Costco warehouse and pick up your prescription.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, retirees spend 73% more on reading materials than average households. If you’re one of those retirees looking at retirement as a time to finally tackle your reading list, Costco can help you do it for less. Books of all kinds are located at the center of the store. I made a beeline for the bestseller section and found the hardcover edition of Stephen King's latest, "Billy Summers." It was selling for $17.99 (Barnes & Noble's prices was $21). Tucker Carlson's "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism" was priced at $16.99 at Costco. Barnes & Noble priced it at $19.60, but Amazon had it at $16.80
But, of course, spending 19 cents more for Carlson's book at Costco means you can start turning pages immediately, instead of waiting two days for your Amazon package to arrive.
Hearing Aids (from Kirkland Signature)
All those rock concerts. All those portable listening devices, from Walkmans to iPods, Beats and iPhones wired to your ears. Many boomers are paying the price with hearing loss -- and boomers who already turned 65 know that Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, which can run as much as $3,000 per ear.
Costco’s made some assertive moves into the business of selling and servicing hearing aids, offering an array of devices at reasonable prices. Free hearing tests are even conducted in-store at Costco Hearing Aid Centers. Costco works with four major suppliers of hearing aids, and also carries its own store brand. The Kirkland Signature 10.0 Premium Digital Rechargeable Hearing Instruments Kit costs $1,399 and includes a pair of hearing aids (available in five different colors to match your style, skin tone or hair color).
Costco Hearing Aid Centers sell other brands of hearing aids. For example, a Jabra GN Enhance Pro PM rechargeable hearing aid package costs $1,799.
We hear it from retirees all the time: "I'm busier now than when I was working full time." True as that may be, you still can have time on your hands. Or wrists. You can find decent watches at clock-stopping prices at Costco.
For example, we spotted a Salvatore Ferragamo Ora women's chronograph watch for $599.99. A similar women's Ferragamo watch was selling for $1,295 on Amazon.com. Not uptown enough for you? Costco also has an Omega Constellation 18-karat yellow gold automatic men's watch for $24,999.99, in case you're interested, Richee.
Medical Equipment and Supplies
Beyond hearing aids, Costco is ever-increasingly entering a retail sector once an exclusive of medical supply stores and standalone pharmacies: Selling rolling walkers, canes, reachers, medical alert devices, wheelchairs and nonslip shower chairs, along with adult briefs for incontinence as well as medical alert systems. There’s even a $4,400 Access Tubs wheelchair accessible slide-in tub with air bubble massage.
Note, however, that few of these items are carried in-store, so place orders online. The good news: Shipping costs are included for most of the aging-related medical equipment we saw on Costco.com.
At its core, Costco is still a grocery store, albeit a big one with big packages that also stocks lots of non-grocery stuff. For those days when you just need to stock up on kitchen and household staples without the crowds and without the distraction of row upon row of big-screen TVs, Costco offers the option of having groceries delivered to your doorstep.
Here’s how it works: Have nonperishable groceries and household supplies delivered for free within two days for orders over $75 placed on Costco.com. This service isn’t available in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In a hurry? In most metropolitan areas, you can get free same-day delivery on grocery orders over $35, including perishable items. You will pay higher prices than if you picked up the same groceries at your local warehouse; delivery is included in those prices. You must be home to receive delivery, which is provided for Costco by Instacart, a service that handles delivery for multiple retailers (from CVS to Safeway). To avoid additional delivery fees, place your order through Costco.com.
Costco also offers free two-day delivery on non-perishable foods plus household items, noting "items may be available in-warehouse at a lower non-delivered price." Delivery fees are waived on orders $75 and over. A cold and frozen perishable food items option is also available, with prices above in-warehouse shopping, and delivery fees are waived on orders of $100 or more.
A Free (or Cheap) Lunch at Costco
There are always long lines at the Costco hot-food stand, especially during the lunch rush. The food is inexpensive: An all-beef Kirkland hot dog with a 20-ounce soda and refills goes for a mere $1.50. An 18-inch whole pizza is $9.95. And for dessert, a twisted churro, for $1.49.
Still hungry? Dining at Costco doesn’t only mean eating at the food court. After a COVID pause, the warehouse club is back swimming in food-demo stands. Employees cook up small bites for shoppers. If the first sample wasn’t filling enough, you can always circle back and wait your turn again. Costco doesn't mind and neither does the manufacturer of that dumpling or meatball you keep sampling. By the time you check out, you’ve had a free meal.
Kirkland Signature Mature Multivitamins
Active retirees need the right multivitamins, and Costco has stepped up to the plate. Kirkland Signature Adult Multivitamin Gummies sold in two-pack bottles of 360 gummies is just $15.99, or 5 cents per gummy. At a Target, a single bottle of Target's own Up & Up brand of Adult Multivitamin Gummies is $9.89 for 150 gummies, or about 7 cents per gummy.
The appeal of Costco’s store-branded Kirkland products doesn’t end at vitamins. Kiplinger has sung the praises of several Kirkland Signature items, ranging from booze and beer to batteries and bacon. Costco even sells Kirkland Signature Energy Shots for those occasions when a multivitamin doesn’t provide enough of a pick-me-up.
Photo Prints, Enlargements and Posters
The bad news: Costco has apparently done away with its in-store photo centers, which were great places to get inexpensive prints -- cheaper than Target or the pharmacy chains -- passport photos, order photo holiday cards and other photo-related goodies.
The good news: You can do most of that, passport photos aside, on the online Costco Wholesale Photo Center. Prints, enlargements and posters start at 11 cents each, while whole photo collage prints start at $1.79.
And that is indeed good news for those of us still fond of framing prints around the house. Retirees spending more time at home may see the need for a photo refresh.
Costco's online Photo Center also will build you photo books, get your favorite image of the grandbabies on acrylic, canvas, or metal. It's also a source for wall decor, business printing and photo gifts.
Another service is video transfer, from VHS, S-VHS, Betamax, MiniDVs and more. For example, you can get that VHS tape transferred onto two DVDs and 1 USB for $29.99, which is exactly what I will be doing shortly. You'll also have a digital copy of the transfer available for download for 90 days via a MemoryCloud you will get.
Bob was Senior Editor at Kiplinger.com for seven years and is now a contributor to the website. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.
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