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A membership warehouse club chain

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I love everything but your jeans.

  • Apr 23, 2009
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When I lived in England, there was no Costco and when I visited friends in Texas, I saw one for the first time and my consumer virginity was instantly taken. Shopping in England is a bland experience devoid of consumerism, whereas shopping here is part of the fabric of the American Dream. When Costco announced they were opening their first store in the UK in the mid-90s, I was literally hammering down their door - my membership number was 0000000006.
Ever since then, I'd sworn never to live more than 20 minutes from one of their glorious warehouses: in New York, there was one nestled in Brooklyn; in San Antonio, I was in the Bermuda Triangle of warehouse shopping, where entire days could be lost at various stores; and in Sausalito, I have Novato (and it really is the only reason anyone ever goes to Novato). Despite the apparent similarity of all the stores, there are some major differences and memorable occasions.

The Costco in the center of San Francisco is like no other: with a large Asian community, it's full of Chinese and Japanese foods that can only be found here. Crispy Ducks, shrimp wonton soups, seaweed and edamame - it's all available in massive quantities. It's also supremely busy, like the Highway 101 of supermarket shopping, with carts 3-lanes across driving at breakneck speed. There's no variation in business: 9.30am on a Tuesday morning is the same as 6pm on the Friday before Christmas - 50% of all people in San Francisco live here permanently. 

The shop floor activity at this location is best described as a disturbed nest of fire ants, with Costconians fighting aggressively, desperately unable to walk in straight lines, scurrying around with shopping carts in a way that makes you fear the fact they all have drivers licenses. I've been the victim of multiple hit-and-runs. I've even been cart-jacked when I left a lone 12-pack of butter croissants and came back to find the cart gone and the croissants unceremoniously wedged into a 6-pack of engine oil. Soon there'll be shootings in the aisles if the food sample war heats up, leaving piles of bodies where demonstrations of chicken potstickers once were. If they would position a few homeless people and drug-dealers around the store, Costco would be a microcosm of the city at large. They could even build steep hills out of merchandise to make it even more authentic.

The Novato store is more sedate, though weirdly I met Tony Curtis there at a book signing, and he's now approximately a thousand years old. What on earth was Tony Curtis doing in Novato? We all ask ourselves the same question in the line for the dollar-fifty hot dog and fountain soda. The routine has become so ingrained that I know all the things I need simply by flying on autopilot: chicken breasts every month, toilet rolls every two months, a case of diced tomatoes every three months. And once a year, I get to go a little crazy and buy something completely unnecessary like a home theater system or a electric scooter.

I am a sucker for quantity discount purchasing. I cringe at the prices in regular supermarkets and practically have a conniption every time I have to pay $3 for one organic avocado at Whole Foods. Yet I hate Wal-Mart, which seems like a kind of consumer purgatory, reminiscent of the hospital in One Flew Out of The Cuckoo's Nest. Whereas Wal-Mart is dank and miserable, devoid of soul and a beacon for every that's wrong with consumer mentality, Costco is bright and cheery and a great place to spend an hour. The staff at Wal-Mart look like hunted animals with the hope of retirement being the distant light at the end of the tunnel; Costco employees seem more energetic and lively.

No supermarket will even win my affections from Costco - you're not going to find two gallons of milk for $5 at any Safeway. And while supermarkets fill the first aisles with fresh produce, Costco goes straight for the male jugular and piles flatscreens and cool electronics at Internet prices. Then there's always the pointless must-have items, such as a $2000 Atari throwback arcade machine, the $1000 outdoor canopies that are larger than most city apartments, and the $600 patio table with a built-in fireplace. Everyone needs these things. And let's not overlook the $7 18" pizzas that have to be sliced into fourths just to get in the freezer. And $10 trays of whole salmon. It's like having Thanksgiving once a month.
Tony Curtis loves Costco

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August 05, 2009
Fun, and yet true!
August 05, 2009
Thx! :-)
June 11, 2009
You are so right...I felt ripped off last night when my wife bought a rotisserie chicken from Bristol Farms and it was over twice as much and half as tasty as one I bought from Costco a few weeks ago. Actually, I may have to review their chickens.
June 09, 2009
The Hawaii Costcos are stocked with lots of Asian goods as well. They also stock Hawaiian products such as laulau, kalua pork, Kona coffee and locally grown vegetables. Other retailers should check out Hawaii. Costco is scooping up the big bucks over here. Even tourists go into Costco!
June 10, 2009
"Must Go To Costco" :-)
June 11, 2009
Whooooa, that sounds awesome. I'm immensely jealous!

Speaking of tourists going to Costco, my relatives in Canada, Asia, and Europe LOVE going to Costco when they visit and always bring a ton of stuff home.  And one time, my friend had a foreign exchange student visiting from South Africa, and when he asked him what was the first thing he wanted to see in the States, he said that the foreign exchange student looked him in the eye and said, "Take me to Costco" in totally seriousness. 

True story.
June 11, 2009
I have been to the Costco on Maui and you are right. It is awesome. The fish they have is amazing. Huge blocks of fresh ahi tuna and other local catches that are fresher than what you would find at high end fishmarkets over here at a much reduced price.
April 24, 2009
If I lived 5 minutes away, I would be eating hot dogs every day, lunch and dinner. So yes, I'm jealous. :-)
June 11, 2009
You'd save so much money!  Just $3 a day for both a lunch AND dinner of hot dogs and soda.  Might take a toll on your health though, so I don't know how jealous you should be :P
April 24, 2009
Haha, you're funny!  I love Costco as well.  I'm a Cost-Ho, if you will, kind of in the same way that I'm a Trader Ho.  I, too, have been the victim of cartjacking at Costco.  I've also had many a parking spaces taken from me, but I still shop there, I just avoid going there on weekends. 

Does it make you jealous that I only live a 5 minute drive away from the Richmond Costco?
More Costco reviews
review by . April 16, 2009
I'm a value shopper by nature... i just can't shake it.  If the deal is good enough, I'll buy 2 even though i only need 1.  Value doesn't mean buying the cheapest thing... it just means getting the most for your money.  So you can obviously see why a place like Costco would appeal to someone like me because this place has high quality merchandise at the best prices around.  In turn for that benefit you give up a couple things, like selection (even though i personally prefer the …
review by . December 31, 2010
Last week, I had to rush all of my Christmas shopping right at the very last minute. When I say last minute, I mean hurrying after work before Costco closes so I can pick something up on the way to my friend's gift exchange that same night. I get pretty stressed about getting people gifts, and so I'm usually not one to jump on the chance to do some holiday shopping. Thankfully, Costco saves the day in a lot of ways. Here is why:       Value packs, FTW! I'm …
review by . July 10, 2009
the nose knows!
   Everyone living in San Diego is very familiar with Costco and I've long been intending to share my thoughts about the bountiful bargains to be found at your local Costco wine section. This being only my second post in what I hope will become familiar advice to the many old and new oenophiles alike about the best place in our wonderful city to purchase wine.      There you are considering purchasing wine at Costco, where it does seem a bit out of place with multi-packs …
review by . July 01, 2010
It's all about the BANG for the BUCK........ Love IT !  I think I'll go there now  :)
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Always on my Costco shopping list: brownie mix, wine, TP, paper towels. The downside of Costco? The parking lot. No matter what city you're in, the Costco parking lot is a place to practice your patience.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
my jury's still out on costco... there's a lot to like, but I recently came across some disturbing info about the fish they purchase (questionable corporate responsibility practices), and also question the value of the membership for what we really get out of it.
review by . August 15, 2009
I pretty much love all things Costco. How can you argue with a place that will sell you a two year supply of toilet paper for 15 dollars. But, one of the best things about Costco is those Crossaints. As you can see below, these are not exactly what you would call healthy eating. The reason I decided to write this review is so I could share my tip on how to enjoy Costco crossaints without becoming fat and eating them all the first week you get them.       Energy 339 kcal Protein …
review by . December 24, 2008
I dont know why but I cannot walk through Costco without spending anything less than $300. I golf about twice a year so do I really need 10 pairs of golfing gloves? You bet I do!     Its so hard not to wanna scoop up all the great deals Costco provides and you dont have to have a large family to enjoy these savings. Unless you are having a party, buying food or beverages at Costco for a couple people doesnt really make sense. Im not big into storing food for an extended period …
Quick Tip by . August 23, 2009
I'm a Cost-Ho. Need I really say more? Well, if I must, three words: $1.50 hot dogs.
review by . December 30, 2008
I go to Costco for books and toilet paper, sometimes shampoo...or if I'm feeling particularly adventurous, a 10 lb. wheel of cheese. Pretty much anything you're looking for, this place has it. In bulk.    The positives:   Books, music, and movies usually for less than you'd find anywhere else.   They are a huge chain which makes it very easy to find a location near you. It's like how I wish my iPhone battery would work. Once fully charged, you only have to …
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James Beswick ()
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Costco is a wholesale retailer which originated in Kirkland, Washington (thus why all Costco brand items are Kirkland Signature brand).  It is the fourth largest general retailer in the United States behind 1)Walmart 2)The Home Depot and 3)Kroger. 

The reason why Costco is so cheap is because they send in bulk, at wholesale price. Furthermore, Costco does not always carry different options for similar products (as you would find at most grocery stores).  Costco really gives you the bare bones - the product (and only one option at that), and no to carry your purchases out.

Currently, the Costco annual membership fee is $50 which includes two membership cards.  Costco only accepts checks, debit cards and American Express.
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Food, Shopping, Costco, Wholesale, Food Shopping


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