A Tour of the Rochester NY Costco: Is it Worth the Membership?

Costco Rochester NYThere was a LOT of buzz surrounding last week’s opening of Costco in  Rochester, NY.

While I did not feel compelled to visit on the very first day, I finally had the opportunity to hop in after work this week. My hopes were high. Very high. In fact, I was so confident, I spent $50 on a membership before I even stepped a foot in the store. Before you chastise me for such impulsivity, I had done some research; the location is 2 minutes from my job; and, there is a 100% guarantee, where members can get a refund on their membership at ANY time, even after having used it.

I have been hearing about how Costco is the “good” big box store because of their emphasis on organic foods and fair labor practices. My expectations had skyrocketed.

So I guess it’s not shocking that my overall reaction to the new Rochester NY Costco store was this:



Maybe it’s because I was shopping after work when I was tired (and lets’ be honest, misanthropic), maybe I am too spoiled by all the great shopping options in Rochester, and maybe my fantasies of what Costco could be were just too unrealistic, but I was not impressed.

A little tour of the Rochester NY Costco:

When I walked in, it looked like any other warehouse store.

There’s this bear: Costco 2

I did find some good prices on organic produce, but none was local, and while the prices were better than Wegmans, they were not better than the Farmer’s Market.

Costco 3

I thought this deal on Late July Organic chips was pretty exceptional, and a highlight for me. $3.99 for a HUGE bag of multigrain chips is a pretty fabulous deal. (And it’s a heckuva lot better than the Amazon Subscribe & Save price for these!) If I was having a party or get-together, I definitely think Costco would save me money.

Costco 5

And while I definitely noticed a good percentage of healthy items and brands, this is still very much a conventional store. I found this 6 lb can of “Basic Cheddar Sauce” for $6.99.  I didn’t have the stomach to read the ingredient list (you can easily and more healthfully make your own cheese sauce, by the way).

Costco 6

I have heard about how Costco carries Hanna Andersson clothes FOREVER, so that’s one of the first things I looked for. Nope. Not in this store, not today. I mean, the stuff was cute, but again, nothing special.

Costco Rochester NY 1

Ultimately, if you live or work by Costco and want to purchase large quantities of items (like my daughter’s beloved Annie’s Mac & Cheese), Costco would probably save you money. I will say that every employee was poilte and very friendly.  But I’m not sure I would consistently make a special trip to Costco like I would for  somewhere like Hart’s or even Trader Joe’s.

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UPDATE: Since I’ve posted this, I’ve gotten a lot of (mostly gentle) backlash from friends and readers who LOVE Costco. And I do want to say that I was impressed with the prices on organic chicken. But other than that, yeah, I guess I’ll have to give it some time.

What do you think about Costco? Is it worth the membership fee?


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  1. You have to demand more organic and healthy options. There are 3 Costco near me – 3!!!! – and they all carry different types of products. One store carries organic dumplings and the other two don’t. One store carries more frozen organic fruits than the other two…and so on. So ask for more organics. Since the store is new, it maybe going through the honeymoon phase to figure out what the customers demands are. I will revisit in a year to see what you say about Costco then. :)

  2. Karen turned me on to Costco here in the midwest. Look for the organic grass fed ground beef. I somehow have missed can o cheese stuff. Costco is the best price on coffee
    lastly they pay a living wage with benefits. I would not cross the threshold of Sams
    Club. Give it another try

  3. When I first joined, I felt the same way. I think there’s an adjustment period when it comes to enjoying/appreciating Costco in its entirety. After a month or so, I started to warm up and now 2 years later- I don’t know what we’d do without it. It took awhile but I’ve successfully learned how to make it work for my husband and I. The organic options continue to increase and our location just began featuring local (small business) products which makes us really happy. I hope your future visits go better than the first! Also, I highly recommend taking advantage of their coupon books that are sent monthly.

  4. Teresa Young says:

    I found a membership deal that included coupons for bagels, ice cream & bottled water. I am waiting for the coupons to come in the mail before I make my first visit. I have heard that Costco’s meat standards are higher than the USDA’s so I am looking forward to checking that out.

  5. We are not impressed, but we are giving them another month to get their act together. Then we will be cancelling our membership.

  6. auschick says:

    The Costco by me is awesome. It’s only 5 minutes away and the self checkout line is non existent – so sometimes I go grab milk and go home :). I need to make a price comparison list though so I can figure out must buys. So far their dried fruits seem much cheaper than trader joes – as are chia seeds. Their coconut oil used to be cheaper but right now their prices on that area going through the roof. Not sure if it’s the California drought or demand.

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