Weekly lifehack: How to shop at Costco without a membership (or a car)

All this Costco cheese, whenever you please. Via Yelp.
All this Costco cheese, whenever you please. Via Yelp.

Hello and welcome to weekly lifehacks, a recurring series where we share a simple tip on how to make your life just a little bit easier (and we promise not to overuse the word “hack”). 

For city kids, Costco exists only in rumors. Tales of its bounty make it sound like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, except instead of priceless treasures it’s filled floor to ceiling with bulk paper towels and cheap family sized jugs of peanut butter, discounted beer and jars of olive oil big enough to fry the world’s largest latke. It’s a discount fortress only accessible by car (the Brooklyn store is located in Sunset Park, under the BQE) and the admission fee is steep: You have to be a member to get in, and memberships alone costs $55 a year. But there is one trick that lets you get Costco items without a membership, and without having to find a ride there either.

The Costco without a membership hack is: Instacart.

Instacart is the delivery service that’s like the Seamless for groceries. And it will deliver stuff from Costco for you even if you don’t have a membership. That means you can order things like this $10 whole turkey, bulk salsa, a pack of 36 Coors Lights for $26 (and a lot more beer too), this giant goddamn thing of hummus, and non-food stuff like huge bottles of soap and a 400-count box of rubber gloves.

Instacart does sometimes have a delivery fee, but not always, and you have to tip your delivery person. You’re on your own figuring out where to store all this bulk hummus and turkey in your apartment.

Now, if you’d rather do your Costco shopping in person and pay the $55 membership fee, use these tips to find out how what to buy to recoup your membership fee. And here’s a rundown of what the best values are at Costco vs. your regular grocery store.

[thanks to Bobby Hankinson for this tip!]

Got a good lifehack to share with Brokelyn readers? Send to tim[at] and we’ll give you a shout out if we use it!


  1. Isaac Anderson

    A few things:

    1) You don’t really need a car at all to get to Costco: it’s a block away from the 36th St D/N/R stop (which itself is basically one express stop away from Atlantic Center).

    2) I used to work right next door to Costco, and in either an episode of #crimingwhilewhite or just confidence coming from blissful ignorance (srsly, guys, I thought you only needed a membership to check out/buy stuff at the time), I’ve totally strolled right in during my lunch break to behold the jumbo toilet paper packs stacked to the ceiling, and no one cared.

    3) Protip: The Costco liquor store explicitly does not require a membership (probs something to do with state law), and it’s probably the cheapest place around to stock up on your basics.

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