Membership Has Its Benefits for Buying US Products in Australia

Despite the title, I’m not talking about the American Express slogan. I got roped into going to the new Costco here in Sydney. My brother-in-law was born with the American consumer gene, belying his Chinese-Malaysian heritage. He was one of the first people in Australia to get a Costco membership well before one opened here in Sydney. According to their website the Costco Auburn location opened 21 July 2011 and my brother-in-law was one of the first of those 5000 customers in the door.

costco feeding frenzy

Image by jovino via Flickr

I do not like large crowds and have avoided the lure of this American club all this time until those of us responsible for Christmas dinner were lured into a tour of duty to buy supplies for the upcoming festivities.

I’m not trying to spruik Costco. If you have tried to buy American products here in Australia, your options are either overly expensive, limited options, out of stock and/or you’ve conned a friend or relative into mailing you your desired goods. Look no further as Costco may have what you’re looking for.


Image by coolmikeol via Flickr

I was so gobsmacked by all that was on-offer that I forgot to take photos so I will try to provide a summary of some of the American products I saw (that we cannot get in the stores here):

  • Ivory bar soap
  • Skippy peanut butter
  • Reese’s pieces, peanut butter cups (1.5 kg package of minis, king size packets of normal size and 1/2 lb individual serves)
  • Bounce dryer sheets and Downy fabric softener
  • Lay’s potato chips varieties (Ruffles, BBQ and plain)
  • Otis Spunkmeyer frozen chocolate chip cookie dough
  • A&W Rootbeer, Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper
  • American hot dogs (both cooked to eat there or uncooked to take home)
  • French’s mustard
  • Pop Tarts
  • Pre-made pumpkin and apple pies
  • Monterey Jack Cheese (1st time I’ve ever seen everywhere in AU!)
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate and Chocolate chips for baking
  • Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel products
  • Levi’s jeans for under $100
  • KitchenAid small appliances like food processors
  • Mr. Potato Head and friends
  • And for the Canadians — real maple syrup in 1 KG jugs

We were in a bit of a rush and overly crowded (mid-week at 11am!) so I don’t remember seeing some other often requested US goods such as

  • Tide
  • Fried onions for green bean casserole
  • Ranch dressing
  • Pumpkin pie filling
  • Marshmallow cream
  • US cereals

If anyone else can add to this list for others, please do.

There is part of me that has resisted companies like Costco because I am a strong supporter of small business and supporting individuality of the country’s local brands (who want to buy Gap/McDonald’s/Starbucks, etc as their only option?).

However I also know that sometimes a candy bar from “home”, the smell of soap or making your mother’s recipe can bring back fond memories, so I have been known to plonk down three times as much as you’d pay in the US for an particular product as a treat.

I was pleasantly surprised that many of the items above are at a comparable or lower price than what I would buy for similar Australian brands — albeit the sizes are American: multiples, 3, 6 or 12 packs and/or king-size — so be prepared to share or store. Don’t be taken in by price alone. My personal Costco expert also advised me to check the quality of the goods as price may not be your only motivation.

If you want to have a taste of home and/or stock up on Australian household brands there are currently 3 locations: Docklands VIC, Canberra ACT and the Auburn NSW store that I visited this week.  you have to buy a membership in order to shop at Costco. Depending on your needs, the membership varies from $55 – $60. Or perhaps you can call my brother-in-law and he can take you…

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8 Responses to Membership Has Its Benefits for Buying US Products in Australia

  1. Stacey says:

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this….I call two places home too! Shopping online within Australia for US goods is expensive because of the freight. They also seem out of stock quite regularly….my boys have been asking to make s’mores…any graham crackers at Costco?

    • Hi Stacey, Thanks for checking out the blog. I haven’t been writing lately as other things in life have taken more time. Yes, they did have graham crackers when I was there the last time. Have a s’more for me!

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