This couple loves Costco so much they spent 7 years visiting more than 200 stores around the world

  • To say David and Susan Schwartz love Costco is somewhat of an understatement.

  • The couple, both in their 60s, have spent 7 years visiting over 200 of the stores around the world.

  • In September, they released their first book together, which – of course – is all about Costco.

There are Costco super fans and then there's David and Susan Schwartz.

For the last seven years, the couple, who are both in their 60s and live in New York, traveled 220,000 miles to visit over 200 Costco warehouses around the world in order to produce their first book together, "The Joy of Costco: A Treasure Hunt from A to Z," published on September 12.

The book, which is self-published under the couple's own publishing house, Hot Dog Press (a nod to a beloved Costco food hall staple), is a testament to their love of the company. It provides readers with unique insights about Costco's origin story and its success, as well as showcases various regional delicacies sold in over 850 locations around the world.

Putting the book together was no easy feat, but it was a labor of love for both David and Susan, who bonded over Costco after being set up by a mutual friend in 2002.

David and Susan Schwartz co-wrote "The Joy of Costco," released on September 13.
David and Susan Schwartz co-wrote "The Joy of Costco," released on September 13.Lisa Pavlova

"Very early on we discovered that we both shared a passion for Costco," David said. "I had been going to Costco because my parents loved Costco, and Susan's parents had loved Costco in the Philadelphia area so we both knew Costco. We both loved it."

In 2016, David — who had already written several books himself — was mulling over ideas for his next project when Susan suggested they join forces to write about the thing they love most: Costco.

It took a week to convince David because there were several challenges standing in their way, according to Susan, who formerly worked in marketing for Nabisco.

The biggest challenge, besides the fact Susan had never written a book before, was how "inherently modest" Costco is, she said.

"They don't advertise, they don't brag about themselves," she said. "It took us two years to meet Jim Sinegal, the surviving co-founder, and Craig Jelinek, the CEO. It took another three years to convince them that we were going to do the book, whether they liked it or not."

Costco eventually came around. To David and Susan's delight, after they had printed 100,000 copies of their book in August, the wholesaler told the couple it had decided to carry copies of their book on its shelves.

David and Susan have combined their love for Costco with their passion for travel

Research for their book involved a lot of travel, another shared passion of David and Susan's.

On top of visiting at least one Costco warehouse in 46 states, they circumnavigated the globe multiple times in order to visit hundreds of international Costco's.

"We have been around the world three times, traveled 220,000 miles, been to over 200 warehouses. It's nuts," Susan said.

Every time they landed in a new country, the couple said they hopped in a rental car and went "directly to Costco." At each stop, they noticed subtle differences in the warehouses, the food halls, and the bakeries, all of which are meticulously documented in their book.

"It's always the same but it's always a little different," Susan said, adding that she estimated about 40% of the 3,800 curated items in each Costco warehouse are region-specific.

Some local delicacies they came across and sampled included reindeer sausage in Alaska, rotisserie chicken sold with the head on in Taiwan, and golden kimchi in South Korea — a particular favorite of Susan's.

The couple went behind the scenes at several Costco warehouses around the world.
The couple went behind the scenes at several Costco warehouses around the world.From "The Joy of Costco," Susan Schwartz

Susan and David praised Costco for giving them behind-the-scenes access to its warehouses around the world.

In Sterling, Virginia, for example, they said they were allowed to observe how employees get the warehouse ready for opening, or what they like to call "showtime ready."

"Official opening is 10 but they love to start open a little earlier," David said. "At 9:30 it is total pandemonium and chaos. You cannot believe what goes on. And at 9:45, boom, it's ready to go. It's showtime."

The couple believes you don't need to live large to love Costco

Back in the US, David and Susan try to visit Costco at least once or twice a week when they are home in NYC. Their closest store — the third smallest warehouse in the US — is on the Upper East Side, they said.

When asked what it is about Costco that makes them love the store so much, Susan and David said it came down to the retailer's moral compass.

"I can't stress enough, they do the right thing when no one's looking," Susan said.

"The deeper we dug, the more we liked the company," David agreed.

That said, as David and Susan acknowledge in their book, Costco's track record isn't perfect.

The company made headlines, for example, when it switched to carrying only cage-free eggs after a 2006 investigation found its egg supplier housed chickens in appalling living conditions. There was also a 2004 lawsuit alleging gender bias against female employees (a settlement was reached in 2013) and accusations of animal cruelty involving its famous $4.99 rotisserie chicken in 2022. (Costco did not respond to Insider's request for comment on its past and ongoing controversies.)

Nonetheless, David and Susan say they didn't personally witness anything negative about the retailer. What's more, they said that Costco's treatment of its employees is partly why they love the company.

"The turnover rate of employees says it all," Susan said. "If you make it through the first year, the turnover rate is less than 9%."

According to their book, employees who are paid hourly earn "over three times more than the 2023 US minimum wage of $7.25 per hour." A 2021 CNN report puts it closer to two times after Costco raised its starting salary to $17 an hour.

Besides salaries and an "excellent" benefits package, detailed on its website, David and Susan say that every Costco employee in the US is given a free turkey each Thanksgiving.

Costco is David and Susan's "happy place."
Costco is David and Susan's "happy place."Lisa Pavlova

But whether you agree with David and Susan that Costco is a benevolent behemoth or if you view the store with warier eyes, the couple insists they've dispelled at least one rumor: That you need to live in a huge house to get the most out of Costco.

"People think of Costco as a big bulk retailer that you need a huge amount of space in order to take advantage of. But we're proof that that's not quite true," David said.

"When people say, 'Oh, I can't, my home isn't big enough to go to Costco.' I look at them and say, 'Well, I live in a 450-square-foot apartment. If I can do it, you can too,'" Susan said.

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