Grocery shopping has always been sort of a necessary evil for me. When I was a kid, my mom used to drag me and my brothers to the local Acme Market, and I would invariably get in trouble for asking the store manager where we could find the Acme Rocket Skates or the Acme Invisible Paint. Also, the decision on what breakfast cereal to get almost always led to fisticuffs.
"I wanna get Boo Berry!"
"You always get to pick! Let's get Cookie Crisp!"
"Cookie Crap sucks! I wanna get Cap'n Crunch!"
Sooner or later, Mom would just grab the first box she could get her hands on, which is how we all discovered the bland taste and fiber-out-your-butt quality of Kellogg's Product 19.
As I've gotten older, my relationship with grocery stores hasn't improved much.
Recently I was at the local Stater Brothers supermarket and as I was putting all my items on the checkout conveyor belt, I noticed that a startling number of my groceries had been smashed all to hell. I suppose I could've been more careful about loading my cart and avoided burying the package of King's Hawaiian Rolls (slogan: So Addictive You'll Think We Make 'em With Crack) under three twelve-packs of Diet Dr. Pepper, but as I will explain momentarily, I had little choice in the matter. With the current layout of the Stater Brothers store, a certain degree of product mutilation was bound to happen.
First of all, the fruits and veggies are at one end of the store, the baked goods at the other. The soda and canned products are located in aisles seven and eight, smack dab in the middle. What this means is no matter which end of the store you start with, the heavy stuff is going to crush either your bread or your tomatoes. It would make far more sense to put your canned goods in aisle one so customers could build a sturdy bottom layer in their cart, then have the freezer section in aisles two and three, and so on until you get to the last aisle which would be stocked with your eggs, breads, and other smooshables.
Not exactly super-symmetric quantum field theory, is it?
So there I was, two weeks ago, thinking I knew all there was to know about supermarkets when Theresa told me she had signed us up for a Costco membership.
Costco, for those of you who are as unfamiliar with it as I was, is basically your Steroid-Pumping-Retail-Slash-Grocery-Metropolis From Hell. To begin with, there's an admission fee, just like Disneyland. For fifty bucks, you can get a Gold Star Membership, which allows you to shop at Costco whenever you darn well feel like it. For a hundred dollars, you can upgrade to the Executive Club which includes all the benefits and privileges of the Gold Star plan along with -- and I quote -- an annual two percent reward on most Costco purchases, as well as additional values on member services, such as lower prices on check printing, payroll services and identity protection; an account bonus for money market and online investing accounts; free roadside assistance for vehicles covered through the auto insurance program; and extra travel benefits.
Just tell me where I can find the Pop Tarts, thank you very much.
When Theresa and I went off on our first Costco shopping spree, I didn't know what to expect. A really big grocery store, is what I was figuring. But once we entered through the magical sliding doorway, this is what I saw:
As it turns out, Costco sells friggin' everything and sells it by the boatload.
For example, in addition to a few slabs of steak and a jumbo package of chicken breasts for barbecuing, I wanted to get a couple cans of Del Monte French-Cut Green Beans. Due to official Costco regulations, though, you can't just get a regular can of beans. You have to buy them in cans the size of your head. Think I'm joking?
Also, Theresa sometimes likes to fry up a few Tater Tots so we needed to pick up a bottle of Mazola Corn Oil. But alas, Costco doesn't carry mere bottles of the stuff, so we ended up buying it in a very convenient eight-gallon jug.
That should take care of our Tater Tot needs well into the year 2015.
It gets even crazier in Costcoland because their product line extends far beyond groceries. Need a flat-screen TV?
Go to Costco.
A gas barbecue?
|Take a gander at the Table-o-Clothing!|
Costco. You name it, they have it.
Hell, they even have a jewelry department where you can buy a reasonably-priced diamond ring for that special lady in your life. Can't say I'd recommend it, though. There's a reason they don't have a television commercial with a blushing bride-to-be holding out her left hand for her girlfriends to admire, gushing the phrase, "He got it at Costco."
I know. Women.
By the time we'd finished shopping, Theresa and I had so much stuff loaded onto our flatbed cart that we genuinely started to worry about whether or not we'd have room at the house to store the industrial strength drum of Captain Crunch, the shipping crate of Pop Tarts, the 100-pound bag of potato chips, and the 1500-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper.
But wouldn't you know it, Costco has just the solution.
That's right, they even sell sheds.