Corn Flakes, Aisle 1. Cadillacs, Aisle 12

As a retail-marketing professor at Babson College outside Boston, Douglas Tigert already knew about Costco Wholesale Corp. and membership warehouses that sell goods cheap in a no-frills environment. But even he was surprised at the bargain he got when he visited Costco's Danvers (Mass.) location. His local dealer was charging $320 for two new Michelin tires, but Costco was selling the same tires for only $163 the pair. So on Apr. 10, he plunked down $30 for a year's membership at Costco, bought the tires, and had them installed -- all in under 40 minutes. "I'm a confirmed Costco shopper," Tigert says enthusiastically.

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