Warehouse clubs are more than just about stocking up on paper towels and shampoo. Amidst the pallets of super-sized sodas and snacks, they also carry their share of luxury items for that can’t-stop-myself splurge.
For example, Coach, Chanel, and Burberryhandbags, Herman Miller chairs,and Waterford crystalhave been known to grace Costco’s shelves over the years.
In some cases, the warehouse clubs partner with high-end brands to offer its members exclusive products at discounted prices. However, some retailers may also obtain items through gray-market buying — a controversial practice in which retailers circumvent manufacturers and buy products through third-party distributors. Costco,the subject of a CNBC documentary “The Costco Craze,”sometimes employs this strategy. That has led some companies to sue the retailer, but most have been unsuccessful.
Costco’s founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal has no qualms procuring goods through the gray market.
“If the supplier is refusing to sell to us, there’s only one reason why they’re refusing to sell to us. And that’s because the price that we bring the goods to market,” he told CNBC.
The real problem, he said, is “when people try to manipulate the market so that they can control prices and keep prices artificially high. That’s wrong.”
The selection of luxury goods in warehouse stores varies from region to region and store to store. Sometimes finding them is all about luck.
No matter. Just toss them all into a doublewide shopping cart and head to the checkout line.
Click ahead to see luxury items at warehouse clubs that may have you reaching for your wallet.
By Ellen Lee, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 25 April 2012