Monday, June 14, 2010

Remarkable: Costco

OK, so Costco is most definitely not a remarkable experience. But there are still lessons to be learned after losing two hours of my life today that I'll never get back ...

For some odd reason, I thought that several of my staples would be at Costco at a vastly reduced price, just waiting for me.

I was wrong.

I've had a membership card for nearly a year, but hadn't made the trek. I doubt that I'll make a repeat trek ...

Because in this day and age, you can find nearly anything you want at vastly reduced prices, without having to deal with the insanity and crowds that is the Costco experience.

The few things that I bought I could have paid the same or slightly less prices elsewhere (lesson learned).

Sheer madness at the membership desk - took nearly 30 minutes for them to take my card photo.

Not well laid out. I couldn't find portable air conditioners. Found some on a top shelf in the food section. Asked an employee where I could find them for purchase, who said they don't have them. Pointed out the top shelf stock. Oh, I don't know anything about that. Couldn't find ear buds (my main reason for the trip). FINALLY found ONE style/manufacturer completely by accident looking at something marginally related.

I was amazed at how many people had carts overflowing with "food," and by the quotes I mean that the food stuff at Costco isn't really food! I will admit to being temporarily mesmerized in the candy aisle ... and didn't buy a single bit. Too much sugar. Too much packaging. Too many hyped up kids throwing fits and being promised candy by their harried parents.

So what was remarkable about a business at Costco?

Absolutely nothing.

When Costco and other huge warehouse discount stores first opened, they were definitely remarkable. It hadn't been done before. People drove for hours to shop for hours and stand in line for hours in order to get incredible deals.

But today, you only need to place a few online orders (no driving! no waiting in line!) using your super discount cards/savings (everyone's competing on price) to get even better deals.

I don't think "price" is really remarkable any longer. Sure, there are plenty of people who are shopping for the best deal, but I think "remarkable" ends up being about quality, taste, color, fit, customer service, going the extra mile, handcrafted, the details, being the first, etc.

I'm not going back to Costco any time soon. I'm using my overpriced ear buds right now (the price I paid definitely exceeded the quality I purchased) and have a 36 pack of soda in my kitchen (36!!!). I should have made a Fry's trip for higher quality ear buds and just used my Safeway discount card for the soda.

Live and learn.

Maybe I missed out something at Costco? What's your opinion?


madichan said...

Costco freaks me out generally - I mean, a 100-piece chicken wing party platter? I only used to go when we did shopping for the graduate student events.

However, the wine selection is actually quite good, and affordable.

Anonymous said...

My Mormon family swears by Costco, but I find it a waste of time. I really like their organic selections nice and I go about once a month. I used to buy diapers there and since I used about 1/2 cloth and 1/2 disposable it was worth the membership just for that. Then there was the electronics warranty...lifetime!! They changed that about 2 years ago and it's still longer than any other place, but it's lame compared to days of old. Now I'm not convinced either. I spend way too much money and have more than I need for my family of 4.

Brenda said...

The gargantuan food platters and buckets were insane, Madika! I didn't even look at the alcohol - should have checked the wine. :)

I can totally see diapers and such, Heather! I also think I chose the wrong store to go to, after starting a whole thing on facebook when this post fed into my profile. :P

Costco is about consumerism, something I'm decreasingly into! I'm just glad I made it out alive with my less than $80 purchase of stuff. :D

Summer said...

When I go, I have to really think about what I'm buying. I get things that my small family of three will use. Milk, olive oil, organic brown rice, tuna (dolphin free), wild rice, they used to regularly carry organic flax frozen waffles...I haven't seen them in awhile (they are so good, I'd eat them for dessert), dental floss, vitamins, prescriptions, carrot juice, Adam's peanut butter....

Oh, and at the concession stand...hand-dipped ice cream bars COVERED in toasted almonds - yum!

Brenda said...

I didn't see anything remotely that healthy, Summer! (Or yummy!) I tell ya, I must have been at the wrong store!!!!

Summer said...

Haha! I wonder if content varies by store?

Brenda said...

It must, Summer! This is a fairly small costco (compared to others I've been in). Not sure I really want to check a larger one! :P

Desiree said...

The thing I use Costco for most often is purchases like TVs, digital cameras or anything I'm really iffy about because they have a fabulous return policy. I know that when I buy something there or at their website I won't have trouble returning it if it doesn't meet my needs. I once bought a TV at an electronic superstore and within 3 months it had broken. The store would not take it back. I was able to get it repaired under the warranty but I had to pay $150 to ship it there. If I had bought it at Costco I would have been able to return or exchange it easily.