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Costco's Corporate Lunchs

By Dian Vujovich

Every month or two financial writers Alan Lavine, his wife, Gail Lieberman, and I used to meet for a “corporate lunch” at Costco to discuss everything from who is writing what to where the best travel deals can be had. Lunch for three ran around six bucks. Even before fiscal conservatism was hot, we were practicing participants.

Now the meetings aren’t as often, work for freelancers trickier to come by and discretionary income to spend at the big discount houses like Costco, B.J.s or Sam’s Club, not quite as plentiful.

That said, you can’t beat the cost of lunch at Costco’s or Sam’s Club. I haven’t been to BJs so don’t know what they offer. All I know for sure is the cheese pizza at Costco is terrific. I’ve purchased it so often the servers I see on a regular basis call me the “Cheesy Cheese Lady.” How pathetic is that. But hey, $2.75 buys a slice of pie and a soft drink so it’s a deal beyond deals. The Lavine’s are hot dog fans. They run about a buck-and-a-half each.

Recently SmartMoney.com ran a story comparing prices at the big warehouse clubs. Shoppers, they report, save an average of 30 percent on items purchased. That said, not all clubs offer the same deals or carry the same merchandise. And, not all items are cheaper than one could find elsewhere. That means, no matter what, you’ve still got to be a price-comparison shopper even if you’re a club member.

Moving beyond the most excellent cost of our corporate lunches, research shows the best deals at the clubs are often on big-ticket items. Like on cars, engagement rings or caskets. Yes, purchasing a casket for your loved one can save you thousands. And overnight shipping and handling is free.

From the SmartMoney.com story: “Buy a casket at a funeral home and pay a markup of up to 350%, says Lisa Carlson, executive director of the Funeral Ethics Organization, a nonprofit consumer advocate. Warehouse clubs sell the same models as funeral homes and casket retailers, but price them just above wholesale. Prices also include overnight delivery. The funeral home isn’t allowed to charge you extra for bringing in your own casket, either. The Federal Trade Commission prohibits charging a handling fee for those who make a purchase elsewhere.”

Costco sells an “In God’s Care” casket that costs $925. Compared to the same model for sale at CasketXPress.com selling for $1,680, that’s a savings of 45 percent.

Engagement rings can also cost less, although don’t come with nearly the I-really-love-you cache say a Tiffany box presentation does.

Back to that corporate lunch. Of course there are lots of deals to be had at any of the big three warehouses but for my buck, you can’t beat the snack bar deals.

Read the full SmartMoney.com story at:

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