Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fun and games at Costco

We made a Costco run the other day. Stocking up on the items Costco sells most. Excluding tobacco and gasoline, the largest volume items are: toilet paper, cashews, rotisserie chicken. They sell over 300,000#'s of cashews a week - the largest sellers of cashews in the world. Costco is also the largest wine vendor in the world. I bought some of that too. I like the fact that they give a rating on some of the wines. I have a mental matrix which involves rating and price - what it boils down to is that I buy wines with a score of 90 or more which are under $12.00. My high price used to be $10.00 but those days are gone.

I loathe the final exam they give you when you exit. They say it's for your own benefit. Ha! They are trying to control "shrinkage" which everybody in retail suffers from to some degree. Most do not resort to examining the contents of your cart and the sales receipt. It used to offend me more than it does now...which I think is true of many offensive processes you endure for some sort of benefit. If the benefit outweighs the discomfort, you tend to ignore the discomfort until one day, you don't notice it any more.  Very scary, but we are adaptive creatures, endowed by nature with the incredible ability to
"get used" to things and carry on - from a stone in your shoe to the seemingly impossible "Stockholm Syndrome" - coming to actually love and depend on your captor.

I've given up trying to figure out the appeal of Costco. Why should we like shopping in an ugly warehouse where parking is almost always hazardous and difficult?. Where the carts are huge and unwieldy; where the merchandise is rarely attractively displayed. Why do we like tasting samples handed to us with tongs or in an ugly paper cup, by an unfriendly, hair-netted, usually unknowledgeable individual. Most of the food packages are too big for our family of two and so we buy toilet paper, cashews, rotisserie chicken and wine. Guess what? These best selling items are packaged in a size appropriate for any size family unit and they are the biggest selling items. If I were Queen of Costco, I'd seriously think about re-packaging a few more items and see what happens to sales.

We always have a hot dog or polish dog when we shop there. We stand in line in the ugly school-cafeteria-like eating area (we go to the Costco in Temecula) - pay $1.50 for the dog and drink (same price as 1965 when they started), endure the dirty, messy condiment stations where they are always guaranteed to be out of onions for the dogs and ice for the drinks, then we sit on the hard benches and actually enjoy the dog! Because it's an amazing bargain!! And because I guess we feel we are getting more than we are paying for. And that's enough to over-ride almost everything else.

The best part of sitting out on the concrete eating the dogs is the people watching. Last week we saw a cart filled with a bunch of food packed into a preparation H box. Another lack of any consideration for the consumer on the part of Costco - Aesthetics anyone? They shove the food into any old box. A very strange looking Asian lady with a "bowl" haircut appeared and rolled the cart away before I could take a picture. Out of curiosity we went back into Costco and looked at the box bins to see if we could spot another H box...none to be seen. So now we have a new game....the first one to spot a Prep H box in a cart gets a prize starting with the letter H, to be determined. 


  1. I can't wait til my next trip to Costco. I hope I win!

  2. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Isn't it funny people say "doing a Costco run" We say the same thing. Never "going shopping to Costco". I buy the 90 points also. I bought a Cab for under $10 it is called Liberty School and it was really good. Beth C

  3. I wonder why that expression came into use? Maybe because the shopping experience is so different than everywhere else...kind of like an assault or an attack - the end result is unknown..if you'll get what you want or not? It's willy nilly too - we rarely take a list.

    Thanks for the Liberty School tip.