Wonder of Wonders

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.

Costco Lights

Costco Lights (Photo credit: aphasiafilms)

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.

Published in: on May 29, 2012 at 3:10 am  Comments (44)  
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  1. Great list. I hadn’t considered the exercise factor. It’s a very good point. Then if you get lost, you do twice the footwork and get twice the work out.

  2. What is with those sales slip checkers?? Funny post…made me chuckle…..but I don’t remember getting lost in Woolworth’s.

  3. I remember it quite distinctly. I read an article that the sales slip checkers are not really legal and we do not really have to show them our slips–who is going to be the first to try?

  4. My husband asked them their purpose. They said it was to prevent overcharging. They check for muliples and then ask you if you meant to 2 drums olive oil. That was their excuse.

    • smart, aren’t they -ready with their ammunition -but I read an article that said that they should not be doing this and that we do not have to submit to it- by the way–good for your husband

  5. I stopped shopping at warehouse places (Sam’s Club is near my house). I would walk in needing laundry detergent and leave with 100 Sharpie Markers and enough razors to shave an entire city. (sad but true) Although, I do miss it once in a while… 🙂

  6. We used to be big Costco shoppers and now we’ve taken that done a bit. I find that if I don’t buy SO MUCH in bulk, I’m more conscious of what I have. We try to buy as we need, but Costco is still great in some aspects and the savings on some products are worth it. :).

    • I agree with you – I go about 4 to 6 times a year because it is a trek into the city

  7. It took me awhile to get used to smaller markets where things might go out of stock, or never were in stock to begin with. But when I went back to visit my folks, and dropped into a super-duper-sized Whole Foods Market, I couldn’t wait to get back.

    WFM is a whole heap more cuddly than Costco. I can’t even imagine that anymore.

    • Smaller takes us back – sometimes we just need to go to a WFM just for a taste of variety and quantity – I do not have one close to me, but would love to visit one–but would you overbuy when there is so much to choose from, and it is not in bulk?

  8. Wish we had one of those around here ! Homefront, i’ve nominated you for beautiful blogger award. To see the nomination please visit http://wp.me/pCKFt-hx

  9. I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. We are currently attempting a trial separation. If things go, ok, we’ll take it a step at a time.

    At our house, we call it the $150 Store.

    • good luck with the separation – as long as there are no lawyers involved you’re good. and you are lucky to get out of there for $150 or am I reading this wrong?

  10. Funny post! I say the cons of shopping at Costco a tad outweighs the pros.

    • I would tend to agree-so I tend use it as more of an adventure than useful shopping expedition – at least though, I no longer get lost

  11. I went to Costco w/ a friend once (she had a membership). Now I like to save money with the best of them…however, buying stuff I would not normally purchase ie: organic individual snacks for dd, entire boxes of hershey bars for dh…just felt weird. And as we were strolling around the enormous place it came to pass that I realized the people shopping were pretty much all “super sized” some so much so they were in those little motorized strollers. It put my red flags up.

    My take away: You get what you pay for. If I want good quality healthy food that will sustain me and the world I hope to leave to my daughter, it probably won’t be found on the shelves at such mega-shops. But that’s just my opinion… For the cheapest books I hit up my library.

    • I soooooooooooo know what you mean – I have purchased things that I cannot or would not use in a million years –or that tasted good at the tasting but not when I got home.
      I agree with you about the library – I am a big advocate of our local library – but once in awhile I want a book of my own.

  12. Great post!
    Ever time we shop at Costco we drop around $100. Even if we go for just coffee beans and dog food – impulsing shopping there is very dangerous. I also don’t like the getting separated from your shopping people. I have had to call Husband on his cell phone just to find him again.
    It is not a warm and fuzzy place to shop but since the boys consume their collective weight in Cheerios, Costco is a good deal. Oh, and if they did not sell clothes there I fear my husband would resort to going naked – he hates clothes shopping and Costco is easy with a great return policy.

    • It does have its strong points–my husband at one time thought it was a discount place and was not too crazy about looking at the clothes–but when I showed him that they were of some quality–he now shops there to his heart content. I must say, I have two pairs of jeans that were under $20 each that I just love.

  13. Well said. We like Costco, but all in all, it’s another place to shop. No sure why anyone needs a 3-gallon jug of Tobasco sauce. Meat dept is good quality and good prices. Wine dept is interesting, unfortunately my state (OH) controls pricing, so Costco can’t pass along savings. For those who buy bottle water, get it there. OK … enough is enough.

    • In Ontario we cannot buy wine anywhere except at our liquor stores and wineries –wine at Costco–who would have thought? There are rumours that this will change and there is one store in a village not too far away that is allowed to sell liquor and everyone is baffled as to why they have this honour–baffled but happy.

      • Is it different from province to province (the U.S. is different state to state). Costco wine dept is very respected. They even have their own brand … yep … Kirkland wine. The even show (on the back) the winery that’s the source.

        BTW …. I had an interesting wine post (actually yesterday) that wine and nonwine buyers can enjoy.

      • It may be different because ours is called the LCBO–which is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.Will have to check out your wine post.

  14. Wow, thought it was just me with that stupid lighting. I’m almost positive they’re the same high-pressure sodium lamps used for night skiing (and I’m sure they’d be just as useful for landing lights on a jumbo jet) :
    Re your hondo box of (as yet unused) crackers… How about for a casserole crust? (You know, the kind with herbs, butter and cheese that makes that totally yummy, crunchy-browned crust; )
    So, how long has that non LCBO wine source been around? (Just wondering if the experiment’s been a success and when the rest of us might see any results.) The whole LCBO “control thing” really seems rather silly; after all they’ve had wine and beer in Quebec deppaneur for decades, right?

  15. Like the idea of using the crackers for a crust–you are brilliant. The non LCBO and non-Beer Store is in McGregor, a tiny village in Ontario–have no idea when the idea will catch on provincewide. Thanks for the comment.

    • Hey thanks, but ‘fraid the cracker crust credit must go to my ancient (Ryerson Press, 1969) Canadian Cookbook; the very first cookbook I ever bought and it’s a keeper: )

    • After a bit of looking about, I found a list of current “Agency” stores; roughly 240 of them, compared to 20 trial locations in 2006. Heck, there’s one in the general store a few km north of here that cuts the distance for the cottagers’ beer run considerably… So, they bring more business into local stores AND curb drinking and driving? These are very Good Things!

      • good research –have to remember they are called “agency” stores–now all we need is for Costco to be able to sell wine here – the wine bill passed for cross province sales, so maybe that will come along soon

  16. The people that work at the food service area seem particularly unhappy. They always seems to serve up a large side of attitude with my pizza pie. I have not seen one of them smile, not once, ever.

    • me either – the atmsophere is really not something you go to Costco for – that and the other grumpy shoppers–sometimes I just try to see if I can get someone to smile by being overly nice

      • Maybe because it’s newish(?), but this doesn’t seem to be the case at the Peterborough store.
        Just a thought though: do you always go at the same time of day? (‘Cause I know that if I’m shopping on an empty stomach, I can be as grouchy as an old bear; )

  17. you may be onto something

  18. that was a fun read ~ no it’s not the devil’s hand work heh heh ~ but i’m afraid if i spend too much time there i’ll end up buying a 60 inch television

    i didn’t know they had costco in canada? i was living in b.c. for a while, and when i saw the groundwork being laid for a Super Walmart i almost wept

    • seems like it has been in Windsor forever, but at least ten years I think – I lose track of time –we are getting a Target soon–is that a good thing?

      • target is less offensive to me than walmart ~ and the prices are just as good

        it’s been a while since i’ve been to either one but i’d say target gives a better customer experience than costco, too {alas no sample munchies}

      • then I will look forward to it

  19. Costco might as well be my second home. In fact, I could easily pitch a twenty-person tent in their seasonal outdoor section and live there when my family is driving me nuts. I can’t send my husband to shop, though. He goes WAY off-road and can be counted on to come home with a twenty-foot high inflatable Santa in July and scuba gear for the entire family to add to the ten sets he’s already bought and forgotten about as they collect dust in the basement.

    • Okay, I admit it – I like Costco too–but I understand the husband thing – cannot afford to take him – and my husband is a scuba diver too

  20. hilarious. we laughed out loud. every word a truth.

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