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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
Costco price: $105,245
Through partnerships with local authorized dealers, Costco members receive a reduced price on cars that’s meant to be haggle free.
Costco’s websitelists the makes and models in its inventory, from a Toyota Prius to a Porsche Roadster. It then connects members to a local dealer, who offers a pre-negotiated Costco quote.
For a new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster, with additional accessories such as a black leather interior and a panorama roof with sun shade, as well as added costs such as a gas guzzler tax, we were quoted 5.8 percent off the MSRP price of $111,725. Costco members are also eligible for additional manufacturer rebates and special financing.
Costco price: $9,000 to $11,700
A Caribbean getaway through Costco?Indeed. Among its travel packages, members receive discounted rates for luxury vacation home rentals in the U.S., Costa Rica, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Take the Cabrita Cliff Hausin the Virgin Islands. The five-bedroom, 7,500-square-foot abode features an infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean’s deep blue waters. A weeklong stay during the high season costs $13,000, but for Costco members, it’s a mere $11,700.
Costco price: $1,799.99
Known as the “King of Cognac,” this aged French cognac is bottled in an individually numbered crystal decanter.
It sells for as much as $2,150 from other liquor retailers. It is only available at Costco warehouses in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sam’s Club price: $67 and up (not including prescription)
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Though Betsey Johnson frames cost almost $200 a pair elsewhere, members of Sam’s Club can pick them up for as low as $67.
Costco price: $499 to $699
In a match made in, well, Costco, the retailer launched an exclusive line of wedding dresses designed by Kirstie Kellylast year. Kelly, who had also previously designed wedding dresses for Walt Disney, has referred to her Costco wedding dresses as “CostCouture.”
Blushing brides-to-be don’t have to try on the gowns in between Costco’s warehouse aisles. The dresses have been sold through trunk shows held at Costco stores around the U.S. Women make appointments at the pop-up salons, which have been equipped with a changing room and lounge, as well as a bridal consultant for assistance.
Dresses in Costco’s Signature collection cost between $650 and $1,400 — 40 percent off retail — though the prices for some have since been slashed further. The budget-conscious bride has her pick of 12 designs, a mix of the customary lace, silk organza, satin, and taffeta gowns.
Related: Box Store Weddings
Costco price: $1,899.99
Available only at Northwest Costco stores, this is bottle of champagne should be popped open for a particularly special occasion. It’s a very large bottle — equivalent to 20 regular bottles — and is hard to find. Similar ones retail elsewhere for more than $2,000 to $3,000 each.
Founded in 1772 in Reims, France, Veuve Clicquot is known as one of the premiere labels of sparkling wine. It rose to prominence in the early 19th century at the hand of “Madame Clicquot,”the young widow of Francois Clicquot and a pioneering business woman.
Sam’s Club price: $13.98
Designer Nicole Miller has appeared on the popular fashion reality show “Project Runway” and celebrities such as Fergie and Heather Graham have been frequently photographed in her dresses. While the designer is known for her cocktail and evening gowns, which can cost upwards of $1,000 at retailers such as Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus, fashionistas can also scoop up casual dresses designed by Nicole Miller exclusively for Wal-Mart’sSam’s Club for the low price of $13.98.
Costco price: $489.99
Only available at Costco, this premium vacuum cleaner with Dyson’s trademark ball promises to suck up pesky animal fur and other dirt with ease.
Not a Costco member? There’s a similar one that’s slightly larger and more powerful, but the DC41 Animal Upright Vacuumretails for $599.99, $100 more than the Costco model.
BJ’s Wholesale Club price: Up to 30 percent off
Made popular by Cameron Diaz and other Hollywood celebrities, Ugg Australia tends to command luxury prices of up to $800 a pair at its boutique shops and retailers such as Nordstrom. But at BJ’s, shoe mavens can snag certain styles of the popular footwear for up to 30 percent off regular retail. BJ's says it has sold the traditional long and short Ugg boot (example, pictured left), the "Cardy" boot, and the short "Adirondack" boot.
Ugg Australia told CNBC, "UGG does not and never has sold to the discount locations" such as BJ's or Costco. "If product has been found in such locations, it is either counterfeit or diverted stock."
When asked for comment, a BJ's spokeperson told CNBC its Uggs items are not counterfeit.
Costco price: $7,890
Costco sold two Jack Daniels barrels — that is, 40 cases, or 240 bottles of the popular Tennessee whiskey — in Arizona.
The two members who purchased it received all the whiskey that came from the barrel, the empty barrel, and a special plaque.