Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Costco Conundrum

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?

 











Since we don't typically invite the United States Marine Corps to our house for dinner (not that they wouldn't be welcome), I have no idea why Costco would force us to buy this many green beans.

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?

Costco.

Take a gander at the Table-o-Clothing!
Hammocks, shirts, books, pool toys, furniture?

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.


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13 comments:

Grumpy, M.D. said...

They also sell coffins, Knuck. No joke. So even when you can't take it with you, Costco can help.

I am a Costco junkie.

binkRN said...

Since we are having a meeting of Costco Anonymous, I will just say that we recently bought said shed, and we are addicted to diet Dr P. Still longing for the industrial size can of chocolate covered butter toffee...but resisting the urge everytime. (Doesn't stop me from going through to get a sample, then sending the young one through to get another, explaining they are for adults only.)

Viv said...

I have 7 kids...I flipping worship at the alter that is Costco...I mean where else can I buy everything from clothes to electronics, AND treat my entire family to lunch in the food court for less than ten bucks?

laughingmom said...

I live so close to the local Costco that I am what they call a "regular." After shopping there for 16 years - we are on a first name basis. Favorite Costco sighting - in Pennsylvania Amish country their Costco has horse and buggy parking areas!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I loe Costco and I'm not even kidding when I tell you that they usually have some of the best steaks I've ever eaten.

So only thing wrong with your store layout theory btw is you'll still crush your bread...since it will be last in the cart its first on the belt which means first in the bag & still under the (last on the belt) Dr. Pepper.

Eva Gallant said...

We used to belong to Sam's Club...similar situation. However, I finally convinced hubby that we don't need to by our olive oil in 10 gallon drums, or buy our chicken breasts 20 at a time when there are just the 2 of us to buy for. We went back to the regular grocery stores.

Suldog said...

Another interesting shopping option, which I may write about in a couple of weeks, is Amazon. I had no idea they sold groceries or things until my boss got a shipment of stuff at the office. He told me that, for a yearly fee, you get free two-day shipping on everything and certain items are discounted if you sign up to have them shipped on a regular basis. Damned convenient for some things, so I did it.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Didja notice that some folks seem to forget the rules of the road and common courtesy as they pass through the portals of Costco?
I mean, seriously, what's with the carts sideways in the aisle, nose to nose while you have a conversation with your next door neighbor [who you don't talk to otherwise]?

I do like those huge bags of M&Ms, though.

Quirkyloon said...

This post had me rolling and thank goodness not in that 8 gallon drum of oil you bought!

So many suh-sweet lines.

"fiber-out-of-your-butt quality"

SNORT.

"Not exactly super-symmetric quantum field theory, is it?"

No, but what is worse? is the UNloading into the car. Because if you've put all the bread items, or in your case Hawaiian Rolls (yummo) at the top of the cart? You have to rethink EVERTHING again whilst unloading or those rolls will be asmashed again. *grin*

AND... last but not least... 1500 pack of DDP? Pfft. That's barely a week supply for me!

You are hilarious.

This is definitely a snort worthy post.

So. Cal. Gal said...

I loves me some Costco! I usually split my stash with my mom or a brother...unless we're talking the 24 pack of King-size Snickers.

Fred Miller said...

I'm licensed in Haz-Mat, and I think eight gallons of Mazola has to be placarded as Flammable Liquid when being transported in a motor vehicle.

Beth said...

Totally addicted to Costco- love Costco gas, too. Never get enough gasoline and Costco sells it at the price I prefer.

Jack said...

Costco and Trader Joes are my favorite stores. With any luck I'll be in Costco when the next big earthquake hits.

After it stops shaking I'll fire up the barbecue there, grab some steaks, beer and turn on one of those giant tvs they carry. Should make for a good time.

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