Shopping for unusual items at Costco

FRESNO, Calif.

But alongside the giant jars of jam and big bags of bread, you may have noticed more unexpected products: like caskets and even financial services. Consumer Watch looked at these unusual offerings - and whether Consumer Reports says they are a good buy.

When it comes to toilet paper and paper towels, Costco may be your go to place. Shopper Adela Corona says, "The bread, the cakes, the vegetables are very good, the fruits as well. And we come to eat."

But for caskets? Or even cars? Shopper Cathy Sciacca says yes! "We had been to the dealership. We knew we wanted an Acura. But we checked with Costco and we could get a better price."

One of the best deals Consumer Reports found was for designer purses. For example, we found a Gucci leather and canvas hobo for $300 in the store, $850 retail. That's about 65% off. But inventory is limited, so if you see it, get it.

Those might be considered an -ahem- investment, but for the biggest investment of all, your home, the retailer has expanded its financial services to include home mortgages for club members. Costco's Robin Prideaux says, "We know they [members] pay for a Costco card, different from other retailers. So everything we do, we try to create a greater value. From a business standpoint we have merchant credit card processing offered, business forms and checks, 401k plans that the business can offer to their employees." And you can shop for your home and auto insurance, too. Prideaux says, "Not enough people are aware, but those that get it are very happy with the value they're receiving and the service." Competitor Sam's Club is also in the financial business, offering check printing, business loans, and credit cards

In a recent article -- Consumer Reports money experts assessed several financial services from these retailers, explaining how the warehouse clubs are able to offer them. Reporter Jeff Blyskal: "It's not the Kirkland brand of auto insurance. They use third party vendors. So they use another company, for example, they have an insurance broker that they work with to offer automobile insurance." While unusual -- Blyskal says shoppers should approach these products like they do any big-ticket item: shop around. "It's one of the places you should shop. It's not guaranteed the best deal, but it's certainly one you should consider."

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