Since Costco came into Japan, many stores have popped up offering almost as low prices for items of similar size and quality. Some stores even offer items made in America at low prices, but not many. Although they are not made by the same manufacturers, most items I frequently buy at Costco like sausages, meat, cereals, toiletries, wine, cheese, and frozen items, most not made in China, can be found at discount supermarkets throughout the Kansai area closer to home, which means I don’t have to pay the annual membership fee or spend money traveling by train or on the expressway, along with gas, to get there.
So as of August, my wife and I are doing a cost comparison for the next year shopping at local stores instead of at Costco. We have canceled our Costco account, actually just didn’t renew our membership we’ve had since Costco opened its doors in Amagasaki many years ago.
Of course, Costco won’t miss us. They only know our names when we write it down on when we’re returning something or when we’re checking out at the cash register. If they send us a renewal notice, I’ll be surprised.
Most people at Costco recognize our faces, but don’t know our names. Local store employees may not know our names either, but that doesn’t matter. For the next year, we’ll spend more time shopping and pass through the checkout line more often than once a month if the items we buy aren’t as large as the Costco brands. But on a more positive note, we’ll probably also see people we know that live closer to home, maybe even friends or neighbors, and who knows, maybe we’ll even put together a BBQ at a local park and spend time together, spend less money on gas and transportation and won’t have to pay the extra 3500 yen Costco annual fee.
NOTE: We’re also canceling our Japanese American Express card, an annual savings of 20,000 yen for membership before our 5000 yen arigato coupon they send us once a year!
Read more about the author of this post: Kyle Yates is an American English teacher living and working in the Kansai area since 1996. Read more from this author