OK, so here's the deal: I invite you to my house because I have some killer deals on some household items and food.

These deals aren't necessarily that cheap, but I can promise you that they are high-quality products that will enhance your life, and maybe even your beltline.

I even can get you discounts on gas and other more expensive items, however, I do have one catch -- you have to pay me a fee before I'll let you buy any of this stuff.

It's not much, just 60 bucks or so a year. It'll cost more if you want more privileges, like two percent cash back or deals on trips.

But hey, you are part of my "club" when you give me that money upfront, and not everybody can do that.

Sounds crazy, right? You pay me for the right to buy things from me -- ludicrous!

No one would take that deal, would they?

Well, actually, millions of people do just that when they pay up for the privilege to shop at Costco.

While perusing the giant bags of frozen fruit, three-pound blocks of cheese and 50-pack boxes of Rice Krispie Treats, people tend to forget that they paid money just for the right to go into the store.

And now, Costco wants you to pay more.

The retail giant, which totaled $176 billion last year in sales (that's billion, with a B), wants more of your money.

Costco announced yesterday it's increasing the annual membership fee between five and ten dollars.

The cost of the Gold Star membership will go from 60 to 65 dollars annually, while the premium Executive membership will increase from 120 to 130 dollars. The rate hike will take effect Sept. 1.

The price of Costco stock rose two percent after the announcement.  Over the last year-and-a-half, Costco shares have nearly doubled in value.

I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that we willingly pay them for the right to shop in their store.

It just doesn't make sense.

Unless you're Costco, and then it makes plenty of cents.

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What's Going To Happen To Albertsons?


Kroger and Albertsons on Tuesday released a list of stores the companies plan to sell, if a merger between the grocery giants wins approval from regulators.

The merger was announced in 2022 but the Federal Trade Commission sued to stop it  earlier this year.

USA Today has posted a full list of the nearly 600 stores that would be impacted in each state. Check the list out here.

Notably, four Albertson's store in Utah made the list of stores to be "divested," -- fancy talk for on the list to be sold. Two of those are in Northern Utah, but both Albertson's stores here in Washington County made the list -- Albertson's on Red Cliffs Drive just off Exit 10 of the freeway and Albertson's on Dixie Drive and Sunset.

The FTC is trying to stop the Kroger-Albertsons merger, citing a monopoly risk, although even if the merger went through, Kroger-Albertsons would still be only about half the size of Walmart as far as retail sales per year.

As for who might buy the two Albertson's stores if the merger goes through, that would be anyone's guess.

Walmart may be interested in the store on Sunset and Dixie Drive as the retailer does not have a presence on the west side of town as of yet. But Walmart tends to be partial to building its own buildings and the current Albertsons is smaller than most Walmart stores.

As for the Albertsons on Red Cliffs in Washington, Walmart sits virtually across the street (well, on the other side of Home Depot), so buying that store seems highly unlikely.

Kroger owns the Smith's Stores in Southern Utah and they're the ones doing the selling, so that wouldn't work.

It's too big for a Trader Joe's and Sprouts and WInco (rumor has it) already have plans for other locations.

H.E.B. is a large retail grocery store, but seems content to stay in Texas and Mexico, which leaves Aldi.

Discounter Aldi has been present in the United States since 1976 and reportedly boasts an estimated turnover of $27 billion. It holds approximately 2.1% of the total market share.

In March, Aldi announced plans to add some 800 stores nationwide by the end of 2028, through a combination of new store openings and conversions.

Hmm, I think we have a contender.

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