Monday, September 16, 2013

A Taste of America

I first learned that there was a Costco in Melbourne just a few weeks after we arrived in Australia. However, at that time, we did not own a car, so having a membership to a warehouse for bulk shopping did not make much sense. Shortly after we purchased our car, my mom actually sent us a gift membership to Costco so that we could do some "American-like" shopping!

For my American friends reading the blog wondering "what's the big deal about Costco?," there are only 3 locations in Australia (compared with 451 in the States!). Australians seem to either love or hate Costco.  People I have spoken to like the concept of being able to buy in bulk, but because "things" (houses, cars, etc.) are generally smaller here, it is not always practical to transport and/or store the sizes/quantities that are sold at Costco. Some Aussies who have traveled in the States like being able to buy American products/brands there. Then there are those who loathe all things American and do not like watching their home country be slowly converted into a mini-America! Needless to say, those people are not thrilled about Costco.
It takes about 15 minutes to get to this Costco from our house.
It is easy to get out of control at a warehouse, buying things that you really don't need. However, I try to stick to my list (though I have been known to buy something that is out for sampling because it's delicious!), so that I can remain within a reasonable budget. Below are a few of my favorite American buys from Costco.
Hard-to-find corn tortilla chips and tasty salsa!
Straight from Canada, eh?!
No, I do not buy Vegemite (yuck!). I do buy Skippy PB! 
Yellow cheese!! A rarity in Australia.
Also, the only place I've found Jack cheese!
As far as things being a good "deal" at Costco, some things are and some aren't. I have found that some of the best deals are on eggs, frozen fruit, frozen veggies, and cheese. Some other American things that I am super-psyched to get at Costco are TIDE (Aussie detergents just don't would die to know what I pay for TIDE though), Bounty paper towels (again, ridiculously expensive but totally worth having paper towels that are actually absorbent), and Mrs. May's (they sell small packets in a few grocery stores but they are a much better deal at Costco). They also sometimes randomly have name brand clothes that must not have sold well in America (NorthFace, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour) and the prices for those items are very reasonable. I find it funny that the clothes are advertised in US sizes and the women standing around the table are never sure which size to pick. Booze can also be bought at Costco for more reasonable prices than at some bottle shops, though I will probably never consider $42 for a case (that's a slab for my Australian readers) of Corona a good "deal" having grown up in America.

On my most recent trip to Costco, I learned that one of my favorite buys, Ghirardelli baking chips, are no longer being carried by the store. It was a sad day in the Hanson household, as we hold great affection for freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I am currently in search of an alternate supplier or perhaps a different baking chip, so please offer suggestions if you have any ideas! :)

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