personal essay

I Bought a Car at Costco During a Global Pandemic — Here’s How It Went

updated Jul 13, 2020
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Credit: Carmen Keels

I never thought I would need a car in New York City. My family lives in Hamilton Heights (West Harlem) and our apartment is just a few blocks away from major subway lines. My husband rides his bike to work, our kids’ school is within walking distance, and my commute to work is a breeze on the good ol’ 1 train. We could get just about anywhere pretty easily — that is, before the pandemic hit.

We had always walked to the grocery store — the Fairway Market on 125th Street was just 12 blocks away. However, at the beginning of May, we started to hear the rumblings that our store was set to close for good. There are other grocery stores within walking distance, but none of them have the range of produce and general grocery goodness that Fairway has. With our Fairway closing its doors forever, where would we do our grocery shopping?

Soon, my husband and I were very, very serious about buying a car. Not only did we need a better way to transport enough groceries to stay at home 24/7, but we also found ourselves itching to escape our apartment — even if it was to just sit in a New Jersey parking lot in fancy outfits, go through a drive through, or take a spin through a car wash.

That’s where Costco comes in. Did you know you can buy a car through Costco? Yup. And you don’t even have to buy a six-pack of cars or even a mega-sized one! After some thorough research, we learned that Costco connects you with local dealerships for new and pre-owned vehicles through the Costco Auto Program.

Perhaps the biggest perk of the program is that the car prices are prearranged with approved dealers through Costco first, so there’s none of that complicated (read: awkward!) back-and-forth negotiating. It really gives new meaning to Costco’s commitment to helping customers save on big purchases.

Once you know what car you want to buy, it’s as easy as saying “yes.” From there, the vehicle of your choosing gets driven to your apartment or house and you sign the papers. The car-buying process through Costco could not have been easier and I highly recommend it for everyone.

Credit: Carmen Keels

Since we bought our car in mid-May, it’s helped to get us safely out of New York to spend a month at my parents’ house in Ohio. It’s also been super helpful because my husband and I have taken on shopping responsibilities, so our parents do not have to go to the store. Because we are shopping for at least six people these days, that Costco-sized two-pack of watermelons and nine-pack of peppers have come in handy!

When we return to New York City in August our beloved Fairway that we walked to and from will be gone. But now that I have a new set of wheels and a trunk to fill, I plan to enter into a whole new relationship with Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers (where they have a free ice cream cone with purchase if you spend enough). Oh, and I’ll definitely be visiting the Costco down the road where we got our car.

Have you bought a car through Costco? How’d it go? Tell us in the comments below.