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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Competing Costco home-delivery services; healthy Mexican + other ethnic food to go

WHITE GLOVE SERVICE: I saw this Cinch van being loaded with water and other items at the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack. Cinch is competing with Costco's own home-delivery service from the Teterboro warehouse.



I really hope Costco Wholesale's newish home-delivery service succeeds in a big way for purely selfish reasons.

No. I have no interest in same-day delivery of fresh groceries to my home from the Teterboro warehouse.

But I'd love to see a large number of other Costco members signing up for the service, making my shopping experience in Teterboro less of a hassle.

So far, I haven't noticed much of a difference in the crowds or fussy members clawing through Costco's big packages of fruit, looking for what I don't know.

On Friday, my wife went to the Teterboro Costco to fill the tank of her gas-electric hybrid, return a men's dress shirt for a refund, and shop for fresh wild-caught fish, a big wedge of sheep's milk cheese from Italy and lots of other great items.

The store was "packed," and there were long lines at checkout, she said.

She spent more than $150, but got instant savings totaling $19.70 on skinless-and-boneless sardines, mouthwash, organic fruit bars, black-bean veggie burgers and hand soap.

Plus, she racked up a 4% rebate on gasoline and a 2% rebate on her entire purchase in the warehouse by using the Costco Anywhere Visa credit card.

Costco delivery 

Costco members can order same-day delivery of  eggs, meat, produce and other fresh items from Costco.com.

Costco uses a "personal shopper" from Instacart to deliver your groceries. To avoid a delivery fee, the minimum order is $35, and you must be present for delivery.

Two-day delivery of non-perishable food and household supplies requires a $75 order to avoid a delivery fee.

If you live in Bergen County, same-day delivery is from the Teterboro warehouse. Passaic County residents presumably get delivery from the Costco warehouses in Clifton and Wayne.

Cinch delivery

Cinch, a Costco competitor, offers "free delivery," but adds a fee to the prices of the items you order.

No membership in Costco is required, and there is no minimum order. And "we'll put your order away for you when we arrive."

But only "next day" delivery is available and only from Mondays to Fridays.  

I looked at some of the food items on the Cinch website, and noticed 3 pounds of bananas delivered to my home would cost $2.19 -- 80 cents more than they cost at Costco.

A 3-pound bag of organic bananas, also sold in Teterboro, wasn't available.

An 18-ounce package of blueberries delivered by Cinch would cost $9.99 or double what they cost at the Teterboro warehouse.

Cost of Costco delivery

In November 2017, before Costco launched delivery from the Teterboro warehouse, I reported on the cost: 

About 2,000 Costco products, including fresh food, are eligible for delivery by Instacart, which runs the same-day website and arranges for your order to be brought to your home, the warehouse giant said of the new CostcoGrocery program.

Orders can be delivered in as little as 2 hours, and a signature is required for delivery.

Executive members receive their 2% cash reward on "the warehouse merchandise sell price, but not on the 15% to 17% markup or the 10% service fee," Costco said.

Members also receive their 2% cash reward on the order total charged to the Costco Anywhere Visa Card.

Warehouse still cheapest

Still, items purchased in the warehouse "will provide you with the lowest possible price," Costco said.

"Members will enjoy the same superior quality products found in our warehouse. After we receive your order, items are carefully selected at your local Costco warehouse and delivered by Instacart," the company said.

Costco said non-members may also purchase on Instacart.com "at a higher price than members purchasing on Costco Same-Day." 

Other grocery delivery services are offered by ShopRite supermarkets, Amazon, Whole Foods Markets, Peapod and FreshDirect.

Although Costco is just now joining them, the warehouse giant offers prices on groceries and fresh food that usually undercut competitors.

ETHNIC FOOD TO GO: Korean soba or buckwheat noodles and fish balls from H Mart in Little Ferry, and Organic Korean Seaweed and Organic Chicken Broth from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro came together beautifully in a filling soup I made at home last Sunday night.
HEALTHY MEXICAN FOOD: I heated up a pair of Taqueria Los Compadres' Vegetable Tacos with non-GMO tortillas in the takeout container, adding fresh radish slices and salsa later, below.

Los Compadres

Los Compadres is a popular name for taquerias in the United States, but a new one in Fort Lee stands out by offering "healthy Mexican street food."

"All meats naturally raised, all sauces made in house without junk ... [or] with preservatives," the menu says.

The storefront eatery, which has only four tables, is affiliated with both the nearby Mood Food and Mood' Wiches in another part of Fort Lee.

They serve wild-caught shrimp, free-range eggs, quinoa bowls, salads, smoothies with real fruit, and organic coffee, tea and espresso drinks. 

At Taqueria Los Compadres, you can find tacos ($3 to $5 each); burritos ($9 to $12), tortas or sandwiches ($8 to $10) and bowls ($8 to $11) for pickup, delivery or to eat there.

DETAILS: Taqueria Los Compadres at 1224 Anderson Ave. in Fort Lee is open 7 days from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 1-201-886-1367. Website: Order Online
MEXICAN SODA: Taqueria Los Compadres sells Jarritos, Mexican sodas made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Flavors include Tamarind, Pineapple and Mango.

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