Costco opens in Champaign on Thursday — so what do you need to know as the countdown begins?
Champaign-Urbana area families are eagerly anticipating the opening of Costco on North Neil Street
Anytime a new store opens, there’s a little bit of excitement that comes along with the grand opening. But Costco? This one has had as much buzz as any store we can remember in recent memory (Starbucks, maybe?).
Now the time is finally here and our very own Costco is opening! We’ve been listening to your questions and have some last-minute tips for planning your very first trip to Costco when it opens Thursday, Oct. 22.
Here are nine things you need to know before your very first trip to Costco in Champaign
As you prepare to head out to do your shopping at Costco during COVID-19, we encourage you to try to pick off-peak hours to make your first trip as crowds are sure to be out in droves when it opens. Remember to pack your masks, too! Our other articles in this series:
- 8 Ways You’ll Save Money at Costco
- 10 Things You Can Buy at Costco That You Can’t Buy at Sam’s Club
- Costco in Champaign: Here’s What to Know about Getting a Membership
1. The Costco store brand is called Kirkland Signature.
When you see this name on different items throughout the store, know that you’re shopping Costco’s brand. Loyal Costco shoppers have great things to say about the Kirkland brand for everything from diapers to wine. Compare the prices on the Kirkland items to the name brand you’d normally be buying and watch your savings add up.
2. Look for “instant savings” signs that will have an expiration date to shop Costco’s “sales.”
Instant savings are Costco’s sale prices and if you see something on your staple shopping list with an “instant savings” sign, you may want to consider stocking up. These discounts can save you lots of dollars if you catch them! Costco sends regular emails with a “Costco Wholesale” name that let you know what’s on special, about to go on special or on its last day of special. With that being said …
3. Make a plan before your trip to Costco … any trip!
We know we’re talking about making a plan for your first trip but it is important to note you’re going to want to make a plan before every Costco trip. Costco is gigantic and particularly if you’re not used to shopping at the other warehouse store in Champaign, it may be easy to get overwhelmed. Decide if you’re going to be shopping for Christmas gifts on this trip, new cookware or testing out new furniture on their in-store displays all before you walk in for a traditional grocery trip.
4. If you think there’s any chance at all you’re going to need a shopping cart, get one when you walk in.
In some of the scenarios mentioned in No. 3 above, you may be tempted to forego a cart for the first part of your trip and then pick one up for your second half. We strongly encourage you not to do this. Costco carts are all stored between the exterior entry door and the indoor membership checkpoint and you are going to have to walk all the way out and around if this is something you want to do. Not the end of the world for sure, but just grab the cart on your way in if you think you’re going to be walking out with some purchases. (Really. Get the cart. There are GOING to be things you want to get.)
5. Watch your budget.
Purchases add up quickly at Costco. Maybe take a more reserved shopping approach for this very first shopping trip and decide what you’re comfortable spending within your budget on future trips. There are going to be so many things you want to get (trust us!) that the total can roll up rather quickly.
6. Get all your shelf-stable shopping done before you head toward anything chilled or in coolers.
We haven’t seen the layout inside the Champaign Costco yet but we’re expecting it to be a lot like other locations. Since checkout times may be a bit long and there is going to be so much you want to see, we encourage you to weave through all the aisles of non-refrigerated items before you go near anything cold. In Peoria, the alcohol section is right next to the start of all the coolers with the household items section on the other side of it. While it may be more steps to walk through the coolers to get up and down both sides of the store for shelf-stable items, we think that’s probably your best plan of attack if that is how our store is laid out.
7. Consider items you wouldn’t normally buy when shopping at Costco.
Maybe you wouldn’t normally buy pancake mix with protein powder added into it. You’ve seen the same brand at Meijer and decided it’s not in your budget to try. When you’re shopping at Costco, you will see deals on certain items that deeply undercut some of the prices at other Champaign-Urbana grocery stores. You’ll have to decide for yourself, of course, what’s worth buying in bulk and what is not, but since Costco has a high value for a diverse line-up of items on its shelves, you just may find yourself walking out with cauliflower crust frozen pizza or those protein-packed pancakes.
8. Plan plenty of time to check out (and on the whole trip, in general).
Costco is brand new to Champaign. COVID-19 restrictions are in place, requiring lines to be more spread out and team members to carry out extra duties to keep the store sanitized. And with both of those out-of-the-ordinary factors even considered, an average trip to Costco during peak hours (weekends in particular) can have you waiting in line a long time.
Two more items to note. You’re not missing this info somewhere — there is no scan-on-your-phone app for your shopping trip and no curbside pickup. Plan to flash your card on your way in the store, walk your way around and check out the traditional way, waiting in line.
9. The rewards that executive members earn when shopping can’t be redeemed at checkout.
In case you missed it when you signed up for your membership (and chose the executive membership, which is the one that earns rewards), the reward is issued approximately three months before your renewal date (so not until next summer, roughly). Your Costco app will keep track of your rewards so you can always see what you’ve earned.