Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Costco Takes an Interesting Tack in Responding to the Recession
We noticed something new at our local Costco last weekend: USDA Prime steaks. Previously, the butcher section of the Hackensack Costco only carried the lower grade, USDA Choice. We picked up some Prime-grade rib eye steaks for $8.99 per lb. After marinating them in a little red wine (a drinkable $4 dollar bottle of Chilean Shiraz from Costco's liquor store), Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and steak seasoning, I threw them on the outdoor grill for ten minutes, flipping them once half way through. Cooked medium rare, they were excellent. With a Choice steak, there's usually 10% or 20% of it I don't want to eat and I end up feeding to the dog; with this one, he just got a couple of tiny pieces.
Interesting tack for Costco, going upmarket a little in a recession. It probably makes sense. Last summer, Ruth's Chris offered a special dinner for two for $89, and, today I heard a radio commercial for a similar $90 deal at one of Manhattan's upscale steakhouses, Ben Benson's. Upscale steakhouses are going a little down market, and Costco's going a little upmarket: they're both competing for customers who want prime steaks but don't want to pay prime prices for them.
The image above, of the Prime-grade rib eye steaks, comes from Costco's website. According to the site, these are 1855 Brand steaks, packaged for delivery. The steaks we bought were cut by the in-store butchers and were less expensive.