As of late, I have read quite a few blogs about that miracle of the material world and wonder of wonders, Costco. The last blog I read was written by a woman in Australia who had just been introduced to the mega discounter and was somewhat flummoxed and overwhelmed. I understand. I remember some of my first visits to Costco, and I wonder if the experience was one that was not unique. I have devised two lists, one heralds this place of worldly goods as a “good thing”; the other strives to shed light on the shadow side of Costco.
Good Things About Costco;
1. New books are 40% off, and magazines are discounted. This was what attracted me to the vast warehouse in the first place.
2. The tastings – if you go on the right day at the right time, you can have quite a hearty lunch of perogies, cheese and crackers, a drink (usually with some health benefit), and a delectable dessert that always promises something–to be low-fat, low in sugar, or make you into a super hero.
3. Exercise – the place is big. A trip around the store has got to be worth at least the minimum required exercise time for one day.
4. The clothes – sometimes you can buy some pretty nice stuff there – not fashion forward stuff, but not stuff ready for a church bazaar either.
5. The food – lots of choice, albeit in huge amounts. If you are having a family gathering or party—this is a good thing.
6. A social outing – a lot of times I go with good friends—something you do not generally do when shopping locally.
7. The big bags of pistachios – they are always on my youngest son’s Christmas list.
The Shadow Side:
1. Is it me, or do the people who shop at Costco seem grouchier than the general population? I am serious; most people seem in a bad mood and wield those huge carts like missiles. Maybe it is the lighting.
2. On my first visits, I was forever getting lost. Lost my husband and kids, and felt like a seven year old again, lost in an aisle at Woolworths. Bad flashback, and not even mine–it was my sister who got lost, and it was me reassuring her (and myself) that mom and dad had not left without us.
3. No bags, and you have to find your own boxes. And if your membership has temporarily expired, they can get a little snotty if you want a subtotal, so you know how much to pay the friend you accompanied whose membership is paid up.
4. The huge quantities that you have to buy if something appeals to you. I still have a huge box of crackers in my basement that I bought months ago. If you are not supplying a wedding reception, who needs that many crackers? (Okay, I know, most wedding receptions do not feature crackers per se, but I am making a point here.)
5. Impulse buying. You could say that this is not the store’s fault but that would not be true. You lose your wits in this high ceilinged gamma ray illuminated warehouse—I don’t care what anyone says.
6. They make you pay a membership fee for the honour of shopping in the store.
7. What is with the people at the door who check what you have purchased? It is not Fort Knox, and it is not something they are really allowed to do. But who questions it? Once you have made the long trek around the store, who is going to take the time to question this practice? But I must say, I do resent it.
I admit that I like an occasional trip to Costco, but there is no warm, cozy, mom and pop feel about the place. I have learned not to buy in bulk unless I share my bootie with a fellow friend/shopper; I have learned how to buy what I can use (except for said box of crackers); and, I no longer get lost in the huge barn of a building.
All in all, Costco is not an example of the devil’s hand at work. It is a wonderful place on occasion, but I prefer a steady diet of my local merchants and friendly small town.