“Department stores were selling their own
branded cookware,” recalls Kathy, now an assistant
general merchandise manager. “And we were meeting resistance from name-brand manufacturers
who didn’t want to see their merchandise sold at
Kathy saw Kirkland Signature as the perfect way
to offer premium-quality cookware with Costco
value, convinced upper management to give it a shot
and empowered her team to run with it.
For Costco’s housewares team, the biggest challenge is fluctuations in the prices of commodities,
such as aluminum and stainless steel. “The sell price
and what is in the set,” Sam says, “depend on the cost
of the raw materials.
“We have the product built to very high specifications,” adds Erin, “making sure our products meet
or exceed the standards set by the CMA [Cookware
Manufacturers Association] and NSF [National
Sanitation Foundation]. “Our focus is to develop sets
that appeal to not only the everyday cook, but the
gourmet chef as well.”
Over the years, every aspect of the cookware
has been improved—the gauge, the handles, durability—but it’s the nonstick technology improvements that excite the team the most.
And Kathy adds, “This is an incredible level of
quality at an amazing price. Our cookware sets are
the best value in the market.”—Steve Fisher
CONTINUED ON PAGE 33
in the making
Kirkland Signature European cookies with
Belgian chocolate bring together the best of two
worlds—buttery cookie combined with smooth-melting, high-quality Belgian chocolate. Now in its
15th year, the program behind this high-end, lim-ited-quantity Kirkland Signature delicacy improves
with each outing.
“We sell literally millions of tins between
September 1 and the end of December, at which
time they are completely sold out,” says Kristen
Hayes, a buyer with the program.
The reasons behind their popularity are deceptively straightforward: Costco’s team is constantly
developing ways to bring a higher percentage of
chocolate into the mix; they work closely with the
200-year-old European biscuit-making company
to upgrade the cookie base; and they stay on
top of trends, sampling thousands of different cookies throughout the year to be
able to put together a mix of the greatest
variety in regard to different cookie con-sistencies, chocolate flavors and shapes.
“To achieve this is easier said than done,”
says Kristen. “We develop different chocolate formulations and different dough formulations, so that it’s not just a tin filled with
different shapes of the same cookie-and-choc-olate combination. It is an exacting, exhausting
process. Ultimately, given our members’
response, it’s well worth it.”—TFJ
Providing a counter balance
WHEN IT COMES to over-the-counter
(OTC) medications, Costco members are
provided with two levels of savings.
Sure, the name brands sell at the
best prices you’ll find, compared to
those offered by national grocery and
drug chains. But topping that, Costco’s
own Kirkland Signature private-label
medications deliver the same high-quality active ingredients as the brand-name
medications, at savings ranging from 30
to more than 90 percent, depending on
They are the everyday medications
we all use: pain relievers, acid reducers,
cold and allergy relief, sleep aids and
others. If you’ve treated yourself or a
family member for a headache, stuffy
nose, insect bite, stiff back, fever or
heartburn, there was a Kirkland
Signature alternative that would have
saved you money while producing the
“Everyone is looking for savings,
given the current economy,” says Susan
Hudson, OTC pharmacy buyer. “Buying
these Kirkland Signature products is a
great way to get excellent quality and
value. For example, with our Kirkland
Signature Ibuprofen, you get five
and a half tablets for the cost of one
That’s just the start of the comparison. Use the table below to learn where
you might find big savings over the
brand names.—David Wight
Kirkland Signature OTC: A sample of savings
Zantac 150 mg
2 x 45 ct.
Prilosec 20 mg
Advil 200 mg
Benadryl 148 ct.
w/MSM 200 ct.
Centrum 365 ct.
Advanced 140 ct.
Bayer Low Dose
NM Vitamin E
400 IU 225 ct.
Survey conducted 9/11/09
KS Acid Reducer 150 mg Tablet
2 x 95 ct.
KS Omeprazole 20 mg
KS Ibuprofen 200 mg
2 x 500 ct.
KS Allergy Medicine Mini-Tablet 400 ct.
KS Glucosamine MSM
KS Daily Multivitamin 500 ct.
KS Mature Daily Multivitamin 400 ct.
KS Anti-Diarrheal Caplet
2 x 200 ct.
KS Low-Dose Aspirin
2 x 365 ct.
KS Vitamin E 400 IU
Kirkland Signature European Cookies with
Belgian Chocolate have become so popular
they typically sell out by December.