Costco in Brisbane – June 21, 2014

When living in Canada, I would have questioned my sanity if I had suggested a visit to Costco on a Saturday. So when Costco opened in North Lakes, Brisbane about a month ago, we figured it’d be smart to let things cool off for a few weeks before we gave it a look.

New members stay left, online sign-ups on right
Registration line-up

We arrived at theĀ North Lakes store a little before 3pm North Lakes, Brisbane. The parking lot was overflowing, cars were parked up and down the street, and the “gas” queue was 10-cars deep for each pump. However we lucked out on finding parking in the lot and made our way over to the store entrance.

It was like trying to get into a rock concert! There were hundreds of people waiting to take out memberships. A team member handing out clipboards and pens suggested it would likely take an hour to get through. And although several people bailed from the line up, we wondered if we would get any chance to shop before 5pm closing.

Membership desk
I can’t see the difference, can you?

We thought we’d be smart and join the shorter queue for pre-registrations while filling out our application via smartphone!). But in the end, the line of people using paper applications actually moved faster by about 10-15 minutes, and it was 4.10pm before we had a membership card.

But the moment we stepped into the new warehouse, our fondest memories of bulk-buying came back to life: Oversized shopping carts, the smell of rubber tyres mixing with the aroma of baked goods, cashiers shouting “member service…” etc.

Costco membership card
Aussie membership card

There was everything you’d expect of a Costco in Canada or the USA – the gleaming white goods, jewellery (but a much smaller selection than in Costco stores elsewhere), 60-inch TVs and assorted electronics, piles of jeans and shirts, crates of bubble-packed stationary (96 pens, anyone?), kilometres of toilet paper, even “Tide” brand laundry detergent (not seen elsewhere in Oz), a range fresh and frozen foods, etc. And of course, Kirkland Signature everywhere!

For better or worse, the North Lakes store is virtually indistinguishable from other Costco locations, at least the North American ones. Even down to the fluorescent hazard cones with the warnings written in Spanish!

Costco Australian menu
Spot the Aussie menu items

You really need to look closely to notice any difference. We spotted the 1kg tubs of Vegemite on offer – and the Aussie pie on the food court menu ($3.50) is a dead giveaway, but it is next to the $1.99 hot dog + large Pepsi!

We finished off our visit with a trip to the gas (petrol) station. And why not? The Costco price was $1.37 per litre, or $0.20/ltr cheaper than at competitor fuel stations. It’s too bad Costco is 45 minutes away!