The Fervent Loyalty of a Costco Customer

The greatest companies in lousy industries share certain characteristics. They are low cost operators and penny pinchers in the executive suite. They avoid going into debt. They reject the corporate caste system that creates white-collar Brahmins and blue-collar untouchables. Their workers are well paid and have a stake in the companies’ future. They find niches, parts of the market that bigger companies have overlooked. They grow fast – faster than many companies in the fashionable fast-growth industries.” — Peter Lynch, “Beating the Street”

costcoThis is going to sound like blasphemy to most but I only very recently became a Costco (COST) member- several months ago to be exact.  In fact, I didn’t really know much about Costco for the many years that I lived in New York and Philadelphia.  I guess there wasn’t much reason to. In New York, Gristedes and Duane Reade covered all my needs. But moving to the west coast, people were shocked that I wasn’t a Costco member. “What do you mean you’re not a Costco member?”  Fervently loyal Costco member friends and co-workers offered to take me there just to show me around and get an absurdly cheap lunch to persuade me that I needed to join. In fact I’ve never seen people so loyal to anything else, especially a retail store. What gives?  It made me curious. So I went.

Upon my initial visits, I came back somewhat unimpressed, so friends went on to sing the praises that I am sure you already know:

“I love their return policy…I don’t need a receipt. Just take it back anytime. That’s why I buy all my electronics there”

“I love that I can know that everything there is going to be the best quality because they’ve selected and screened only the best products.  They’ve done the work for me and I trust them.”

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