Non-Members Can Buy Liquor At Costco In 14 States

If you're planning a party and looking for a way to save money on refreshments, consider stopping by the nearest Costco. The big box superstore offering low prices might hardly be breaking news, but you might be pleasantly surprised to know that, regardless of whether or not you have an annual membership, those who live in the right states can consider Costco a money-saving option when it when it comes to purchasing alcohol.

There are fourteen states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and Vermont – in which customers can buy alcohol at Costco without being a member. As explained by CBS affiliate KENS5 News in Texas, the reason — at least in the Lone Star State — is because such club stores have been granted public liquor licenses, making it against state law for the for-profit organizations to require shoppers to hold a private membership to purchase its alcohol.

Loopholes within a loophole

While this legal side-step is great news for state residents hoping to save money on alcohol, it's not as simple as merely walking into the store and heading to the liquor section. Since greeters often check for membership cards at the door, someone hoping to take advantage of this loophole will likely need to tell the greeter they are there to purchase alcohol. Once inside, they will typically be given a temporary number by the membership desk, but will not be allowed to grab extra grocery items or hit the food court for a snack during their shopping spree; aside from the pharmacy and liquor, everything else at Costco is out of bounds. 

In states where this alcohol loophole exists, additional limitations may apply. According to My Bartender, Costco stores in Delaware, Indiana, Texas, and New York are only allowed to sell wine and beer; other states permit the sale of hard liquor, while the state of Vermont insists that club stores sell their spirits to members only. Consumer Reports notes that these same policies apply to other club stores including BJ's Wholesale Club — but not to Sam's Club stores, which already have a nationwide policy of allowing non-members to purchase alcohol.