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Friday, May 29, 2020

Costco Wholesale keeps seniors guessing as warehouses adjust to panic shopping

SOCIAL DISTANCING: The Costco Wholesale warehouse in Teterboro, N.J., makes checking out during the Covid-19 pandemic easy by having an employee send members -- who form a single line -- to a usually empty checkout lane. I was next when I took this photo on April 21.
GUESSING GAME: But Costco keeps older members guessing by changing the hours for ages 60 and above at least 3 times in the last month or so. Now, those hours in Teterboro are 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays, forcing older members to show up an hour earlier than before.

Older members must deal  
with 3 changes in special hours


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- A couple of days ago, I showed up at my Costco in Teterboro at around 9:30 in the morning to find no line of members outside the warehouse.

Inside, I found paper towels, toilet paper and spring water -- all of which were running low during our quarantine.

A week earlier, there were no paper towels to be had after a long line of members were allowed into the warehouse starting at 8 a.m., and sacked the place, as often happens at Costco warehouses and other food stores during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I wasn't aware that Costco Wholesale had revised opening hours for the Teterboro warehouse, as well as the special hour reserved for members ages 60 and over.

New hours

Now, older members are allowed in from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays -- an hour earlier than before, and the third time the special hour has been changed at the Teterboro warehouse, which opens to all members at 9 a.m.

But the Costco warehouse in Wayne -- known for its house-label imported and domestic wines, as well as premium brands of liquor -- doesn't open for seniors until 9 a.m. and for others until 10 a.m.

On May 4, the Costco Business Center in Hackensack closed to walk-in business so I can no longer go there from my home a couple of miles away, if I run out of an item.

You can find "Coronavirus Updates" on the website of your Costco warehouse.

Whole Foods Market in Paramus also reserves 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for 60-plus shoppers.

Warehouse clubs

Costco is a multi-billion dollar global retailer with more warehouse club locations than either of its competitors, Sam's Club (owned by Walmart) and B.J.'s Wholesale Club.

In January 2018, Walmart announced the closing of 63 Sam's Clubs across the United States, including one in Fairbanks, Alaska.

A Costco Wholesale opened for business in the same building in November 2018, a few months after the Sam's Club closed.

In New Jersey

I am a loyal Costco shopper for many reasons, including an 18-inch food court pizza for $9.95, an increasing number of organic foods and produce; fresh wild-caught fish and a pharmacy.

I shop for food at Whole Foods and ShopRite, too, but Costco's prices are lower, and often there are sales or instant savings taken at the register on many items.

Costco Travel can save you money on tours, flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. 

Costco also has an auto buying and discount service program; and sells insurance and home improvements.

Free membership

Best of all, a Costco membership basically is free, if you use the Costco no-fee Visa credit card, earning 4% cash back on gasoline purchases (even at Costco), 3% on restaurant meals, 2% on travel and 1% on all other purchases. 

I have an Executive Membership for $120 a year, but earn 2 times or 3 times that much in cash back every year. A regular membership is $60 a year.

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