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Customers stock up on gold bars at Costco

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(Kitco News) - Costco, the warehouse-style retailer famous for its unlimited samples, cheap hotdogs and bulk quantities, has added another everyday essential for their members-only customer base: bars of pure gold bullion.

According to a Business Insider article published Wednesday, Costco has been offering one-ounce gold bars for purchase through their website. And if you think the rotisserie chickens sell out fast, they’ve got nothing on the yellow metal.

“I've gotten a couple of calls that people have seen online that we've been selling one-ounce gold bars,” CFO Richard Galanti said during the retailer's fourth-quarter earnings call on Tuesday. “Yes, but when we load them on the site, they're typically gone within a few hours, and we limit two per member.”

According to Costco's website, the retailer sells one-ounce bars of 24-karat gold from South Africa's Rand Refinery for $1,949.99. For $30 more, customers can opt for an ounce from PAMP Suisse.

Both products average a 4.9-star rating on Costco's website. One imagines the South African gold would have a dry finish, while the Swiss is likely to have a rich, nutty bouquet, though this cannot be confirmed as the company has been uncharacteristically stingy with free samples.

The prices for both products include insured air shipping via UPS, requiring a signature upon receipt, and they can be neither returned nor refunded. You bought it, you’re long it. Limit two of each item per customer.

The gold bars also fulfill Costco members’ expectations for razor-thin markups. If you purchased your RAND bar on the morning of September 1, you would have essentially received an ounce of 24-karat gold at the spot price, with free shipping thrown in.

The margin has increased somewhat as gold prices have declined, but they’re still a steal: At the time of writing, spot gold last traded at $1876.00 an ounce, down 1.3% or nearly $25 on the day.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the solid gold bars are also eligible for 2% cash back for Costco customers with executive memberships. This means the cash back alone on a PAMP Suisse bar would buy you 26 Costco hotdogs, the gold standard of price stability as their $1.50 cost has never been adjusted for inflation since first being introduced in 1983.

Available now while supplies last.

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