Costco Capers #NaBloPoMo

This past weekend saw us set out on our biannual Costco run. The Italian Stallion and I do not engage in this sport lightly. The visit is a culmination of weeks of precision planning, pantry reconnaissance and rigorous training. The training consists of pushing dollar bills in and pulling them out of wallets and speedy mathematical value assessment. Apart from this physical and mental preparation, there is always the the issue of what to wear to resolve. I mean who wants to end up on the hypothetical Costco equivalent of People of Walmart.

Walmart e card 1To us non-Americans the Wal-Mart phenomenon is curious indeed. We have no real Australian equivalent that has spurned a whole subculture. In fact, I was so curious that I asked a friend to take me to a Wal-Mart in Tennessee last time I was in the States to pop my Wal-Mart cherry. It must have been a slow day because it was nothing like what I expected to see having regard to the Wal-Mart mythology from the Internet. People shopped whilst fully clothed and there were no sprawling cash register lines. Talk about underwhelming. I didn’t buy anything.

But back to Costco. For us Costco is a pilgrimage and something not undertaken lightly as it is a least a half day event. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly there is only one Costco servicing Sydney. Sydney has a population of about two million, so our Costco sees plenty of action. Secondly, the store is about an hour’s drive away and that’s not counting the time it takes to find a parking spot. Thirdly, given there is only one store social encounters are unavoidable even for a city of this size. You will always meet someone you know at Costco, which of course then ties into the whole fashion thing. This weekend’s excursion didn’t disappoint as we bumped into two of the Italian Stallion’s colleagues and their spouses.

And everything about Costco is BIG.

Big quantities, big deals, big checkout lines, ginormous trolleys and big bucks.  Costco have these great little dinner rolls that I have longingly wanted to try for the past year. I have picked up a pack every time I have been to Costco, but the thought of what to do with 36 of them has always led me to leave them on the shelf. This time though I bit the bullet bread and took the BIG small dinner roll plunge.

And the act of lovingly placing in my trolley the 3 kilos of chicken thighs that will grace our dinner plates for the next little while next to that piece of outdoor furniture that I had to have is worth the trip all on its own. I like an eclectic, variety filled shopping basket.

The fun continued with the post Costco run packathon. Getting the stuff in the car took the patience of the Dalai Lama and the precision of Tetris. Luckily for me the Italian Stallion is really good at Tetris which is positive news indeed because the whole Tetris thing had to be repeated in the pantry at home. As for finding the stuff three months down the track when we need to use it… yeah.. good luck with that.

Which leads me to divulge Fascinating Costco Fact No. 352: After buying cling wrap in bulk at Costco last year, we have figured out we use 300m of the stuff in a year. Costco therefore not only assists with inventory control but also gives good trivia.

So now we are back in training for next year’s biannual Costco run. Should be just in time for Easter.

Dinner roll anyone?Bread Rolls

 Do you ever shop in bulk? Do you have a special shopping experience you could like to share?

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

21 thoughts on “Costco Capers #NaBloPoMo

  1. I don’t really shop in bulk, but I seem to have a genetic defect when it comes to Target (not sure if you have those there). I always seem to leave with far more than I intended to purchase. Maybe they put something in the air. Walmarts on the other hand do nothing for me other than make me want to rush back outside. You’re lucky your trip to the giant store was so uneventful…

    • We’ve had Target for a couple of decades now and I understand the attraction :). I’ve noticed though that I enjoy shopping (and hence engage in it) a lot less than I used to. I suppose too its a function of the boys growing and very occassionally doing their own shopping now as buying fashion for them now when they are not there to opine is fraught.

  2. I didn’t realize they had Costco in Australia. Of course they have several in So. California. We have 3 in a 5 mile radius of where we live. We usually go about once every 4 to 5 weeks and usually spend about $250 – $300 with about $50 worth of stuff going to my father-in-law. We usually don’t buy too many different items since there’s only my wife and I and we usually get the same things. That bulk buying can result in food getting thrown out if we’re not careful. Funny you should mention the cling wrap. We still have what we bought about 3 years ago and we’re only on the first box. Obviously we don’t use much of that stuff.

    Wrote By Rote

    • I think more Costcos are on their way to Sydney. The issue is finding land large enough to build since land is at a premium here. There are a couple of Costcos interstate as well. I think pooling and buying with others is definitely the way to go with Costco. The cling wrap we have is what I would have considered to be for caterers not so long ago, and now its sitting in our kitchen! We only use this much because of school lunches.

  3. I like to shop at Costco but only for products I can truly use within a proper time-frame, Like Kalamata (?sp) olives and artichokes, books and clothing–oh, and popcorn. Ours if a long drive but nowhere an hour’s drive.
    It matters not whether I shop at Costco or an other store with groceries, I always spend too much. I spend less in a department store. 🙂

    • I will admit to enjoying grocery shopping, although not so much the cooking and cleaning afterwards :). I think Costco is great for non perishables like washing powder, toilet paper and the like. Anything fresh requires a cost benefit analysis!

  4. Maybe you need those little microchips and a scanner so you can find stuff 3 months down the road.

    I love your hilarious description of the Costco visit and its aftermath. Made me laugh.

    • Great idea on the chips and scanners, would certainly assist with inventory control. I understand that they are already making fridges with this sort of technology, although the concept of Big Data fridges seems a little scary.

      Also, thank you so much for the feedback on the post. Your comment made my day given that you write for a living 🙂

  5. We have Costco in our town of 75,000 in the Utah desert. And we’ve had them other places I’ve lived in the states. I go about once a month for basics (chicken tits, tilapia, bottled water, date roll, meat pies, biscuits, and so on). In this town we rarely have people that look like those in the stereotypical “people of Walmart”, but we are near a major town of plygs (polygamists). Therefore we see coveys of plyg quail there regularly filling the large flatbed trolleys with stacks of stuff to put in their 4wd pickup trucks to haul home to their 12 bedroom house/compound. The plyg quail always have French braids, usually wrapped into a bun on the back of their heads, and always wear plain colored “prairie dresses” that go to the neck, wrists, and ankles. On their feet can be anything from sandals to high button shoes. We see the plyg quail regularly in both Walmart and Costco. Takes a lot of stuff to feed seven wives and 22 children.

    • Interesting part of the world you live in. I once had a colleague who had 8 children and 1 wife. Going out with them was a study in logistical elegance. They were extermely organised but suprisingly unregimented. Oh and hello to you and thaks for finding my blog.

  6. So funny.

    My hubs and I go to Costco only once a year and we have to prepare ourselves physically, emotionally and financially for it. Such crowds, so much variety, temptations abound, and oh my, but the money just flows out like a waterfall.

    • Yes, they are really good at the waterfall thing :). And here we also have to pay for the privalege of being let into the store through an annual membership. Not sure whether they have that over there as well.

      • Oh yes, we too pay an annual membership fee. What brilliant person figured out that millions of people would be willing to pay for the chance to pay even more to a single company?

  7. This was brilliant Jude – I have yet to visit them down here, but since I rarely cook, clean, wash, iron, vacuum or cover myself in cling wrap for that instant weight loss effect, I don’t really see the need 🙂 This IS hilarious! xx

    • Ha, thanks. Your comment gave me quite the chuckle as well :). A woman after my own heart in the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing and vacuuming department. As for cling wrap, I wonder whether Glad ever thought they’d be in teh fashion game?

  8. Shopping in bulk – I can just respond with “Yikes!!” I try to stay away from large shopping centers and supermarkets.
    The eeriest shopping events in Austria (I only know from Youtube videos) happen at December 27 and Tuesday after Easter- when big shops selling consumer electronics open at 06:00 AM, as an exception (Usually they open at 09:00 AM). Shoppers queue before the building as if this was the food supply in a war zone, and when the doors are opened they literally invade the building, pushing other shoppers and fight for That Slightly Price-Reduced Plasma TV You Absolutely Need To Have. Totally scary.

    • We have the same thing here on 26 December, called the Boxing Day sales. It is literally a stampede for that once a year bargain. Not my thing at all. Sales are a bit of an illusion. You go in looking for a bargain, find it is done or is something other than you though and ending up paying full price for what you really want. Early version of clickbait?

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