Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why I drove 350 miles to buy men's briefs at Costco

Shoppers checking out at the Costco Wholesale in Montreal last Sunday morning. The Canadian warehouse store was both familiar and different than the Costcos in North Jersey where I normally shop.


The last time I shopped at my hometown Costco Wholesale, I couldn't find a few items, including Kirkland Signature Men's Briefs.

But I found them at the Costco Wholesale in Montreal -- in three colors, no less -- after driving 350 miles to attend the Canadian city's International Jazz Festival.

Our two visits to Costco in  Montreal were both familiar and different than the North Jersey warehouse stores in Hackensack and Wayne I usually patronize.

The Montreal Costco sells wine and beer, and has a gas station, but it is the only one in the province of Quebec that doesn't have a pharmacy.

And the Canadian store's food stand serves coffee, latte and cappuccino, something I really miss in Hackensack, especially when I need a mid-afternoon pickup while shopping there.

Costco members in Montreal also can buy cartons of cigarettes at a nice discount, according to one woman I spoke with while she waited on line to do just that.

I've been enjoying the wild sockeye salmon I buy in Hackensack, but Costco members in Montreal can buy fillets or an entire wild salmon, minus the head.

Costco members in Montreal waiting to purchase cartons of cigarettes.

Made-in-Canada men's briefs

The men's briefs sold by Costco at the Montreal warehouse store are made by Stanfield's Limited in Nova Scotia.

Kirkland Signature Men's Briefs are available only in white, but Stanfield's briefs come in white, gray and black, and I bought a package of each.

A package of five 100% combed cotton briefs are $19.99 Canadian (one U.S. dollar is worth about $1.05 Canadian).

My waist measures 37-38 inches, and I bought one package of L/G briefs (38-40).

But I found they are cut small, and returned them the next day for three packages of XL/TG (42-44), which are too large for me.

I hope they shrink after they are washed.

Shopping in a Canadian Costco holds two disadvantages for a member from the United States.

In Montreal, taxes of nearly 15% are added to your bill, compared to 7% in New Jersey. 

And the American Express card is the only one accepted, meaning I'll probably see a foreign-currency transaction fee of 2.7% showing up on my statement.

That will be outweighed by total cash rebates of 3% from Costco, where I am an Executive Member, and American Express.

I travel outside the United States with a Capital One Visa card that charges no foreign-currency transaction fees.

The Montreal Costco wouldn't allow me to use it and wouldn't accept my bank debit card, which carries a MasterCard imprint.

When I returned the first package of briefs for a refund, a Costco employee said I could avoid the foreign-currency surcharge by using my Visa card to buy gift cards on Costco's Canadian Web site.

To be continued ...

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