September 20, 2008

Joining the Supersize Costco Cult

In this lousy economy, I have eschewed the new Whole Foods that opened nearby, and instead accompanied a friend to the equidistant Costco. It was my second attempt to join Costco, after having made a previous scouting mission and being completely overwhelmed by the bigness of it all. This time, however, I joined the Costco cult.

The first thing I noticed upon entering Costco was the large selection of flat-panel televisions to my left. These must be the ultimate impulse items, especially given that Costco's shopping carts can easily fit a large screen tv, with room left over for a Smart Car.

I enjoyed the energy bars and other samples being served throughout the store, although the old hairnetted ladies serving them could have used some speed training. I wonder if they were hired from some "special" group home.

Costco's pharmacy section looks really useful. Their prescription prices seem to be discounted a bit, and over-the-counter items such as Excedrin are well-priced. However, many items, such as shaving cream, come 4 cans to a pack. Does the stuff expire?

Ditto for Costco's beverage section. It has great deals on Pellegrino and Diet Coke, but, with cases of 24 bottles and 32 cans, respectively, one needs a storage warehouse to buy them.

My local Costco has a pretty good selection of books, and the prices are excellent. Bob Woodward's brand-new book, The War Within, was selling for almost 50% off the retail price.

Nearby, some good deals on toys could be had. And yes, there was already a musical Christmas display, when Halloween is still more than a month away.

I was curious as to whether Costco had the XBox 360, and, given Microsoft's recent price reduction on the machine, whether Costco was selling it for some crazy low price. Surprisingly, Costco had the XBox, but at the old, higher price.

Athletic socks! Do you need athletic socks? I wish I did. Costco had lots of them, including white ones and grey ones, for a good price.

My friend kept raving about Costco's food, so I checked it out to see what all the fuss was about. The good news is, Costco does appear to have good quality food, from produce to meats to fish to cheese, as well as a nice selection of cookies and cakes. However, when I picked up what looked like a one-pound package of organic beef, it was attached to two more such packages. Many items were likewise double and triple packed. This is great if one (a) is having a party; (b) sports a large family of typically overweight suburban Americans; or (c) owns a freezer of the type in which axe murderers store dead bodies in suspense movies. For the rest of us, not so good.

Costco is known for their wine selection and prices, and a quick run through the wine section proved the rumor to be true. Even better, you can buy wine in individual, normal-sized bottles. The beer selection and prices were also good, and buying beer by the case does not seem so outlandish.

On the way out, those damn televisions beckoned again. I think Costco has modeled itself after the Las Vegas hotels that make you walk through their casinos no matter where you want to go. Somehow, I was able to avert my gaze and plow forward.

I ended up purchasing a basic Costco membership, and was joined at the counter by several others who apparently were also looking to economize in the current economy. At $50 per year, my Costco membership should pay for itself when I stock up for my next party.

In the meantime, would anyone like to split 24 pairs of athletic socks? They're cushioned and everything.



At 2:09 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

The trick is to join Costco with someone else so you can split the membership fee. Another trick is to go in with a list and the firm intention of buying only what is on that list instead of getting sucked in by samples or just greed. A final trick is to wear biker pants or something tight-fitting so you can try on clothes since there are no fitting rooms. The clothing is actually quite well-constructed. I like Costco because they are good to their employees (at least better than their competitor Walmart.) As a retired person I have the luxury of shopping at non-peak times and that counts for a lot. Welcome to supersize buying!

At 2:57 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Barbara -- thanks for the tips!


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