My friend Dianne is a huge fan of Costco retail warehouse outlets. Quite frequently she extols the benefits of some product or another that sports the company’s in house brand name or perhaps a great bargain she found by shopping there.
I listen and make mental notes about her satisfaction and file them away for future reference. I really don’t have a pressing need to stock up on large quantities of stuff because I live alone and don’t support any pets. Whatever I need, I purchase at the local supermarket or at some place like Target.
Dianne has offered to buy things for me several times and has invited me to accompany her to the Omaha Costco a few times. I declined because, as I have already mentioned, I didn’t see a personal need.
The fact is, that I never gave one moment of thought to Costco until I met Dianne. I wasn’t even aware that it existed. I had heard of Sam’s Club long ago and have no interest in the Walmart brand whatsoever. So, when I heard about Costco, I just wrote it off as a variation of the Sam’s Club model.
Time and current events conspired to make me aware of Costco, anyway. In the ongoing flap about Walmart, Incorporated and the negative media coverage regarding it’s reputation for poor pay and work policies, many news stories began comparing Walmart policies with Costco policies. Costco was often positioned as the “Anti-Walmart”. Stories sometimes mentioned the generous pay and benefits that Costco employees enjoy.
So between the insistance of Dianne, and my growing admiration for companies like Costco, it was inevitable that one day, I would have to visit a Costco Warehouse Outlet. Because there is only one of the outlets in Nebraska, the trip would be to the one in Omaha.
Recently, Dianne mentioned that her supply of dog biscuits, dog food, and cat food were running dangerously low. She needed to make a run to Omaha to restock the supply of pet food plus numerous human food items that she likes. To make the trip worthwhile, she usually buys enough basics at Costco to last two months. Once again, Dianne invited me to make the supply run with her. So this time, I said yes.
The Monday of the trip rolls around and Dianne rents an SUV because she needs the extra cargo space. For this trip, the truck happens to be a 2017 Jeep Compass. Then we head down the highway to Omaha. I thought the seats were reasonably comfortable, Dianne had a less positive opinion. The upholstery was some sort of nylon-like synthetic. The slick fabric was jet black and attracted every stray bit of lint and dog hair we had on us.
We finally pull into the parking lot. It’s huge, just like the gigantic warehouse building we’re about to enter. Even Dianne’s prior descriptions of the place didn’t prepare me for what was about to happen. We pass through a covered, open area where hundreds of shopping carts are stored. They’re about three times larger than regular supermarket carts. We get one apiece.
Upon walking into the Costco, it looked big enough to store a few Boeing 777s. The place was packed, wall to wall, with industrial size shelving. All the shelves were chock full of multi-pack retail goods. You don’t go into a Costco to buy a single cup of yogurt, a box of Cheerios, and a few cans of cat food. This warehouse was designed for supercharged consumerism.
Dianne looked like she was in Nirvana, I was simply awestruck, while pushing her auxiliary mega-cart like a robot. We went from row to row. I watched her hoist multiple-package flats into the carts. We entered walk-in refrigeration rooms that were large enough to hold small houses.
After perhaps an hour, I wasn’t keeping track, we push our heaping full mega-carts to the check-out lines. I wasn’t worried about my purchases, because I only had four items: Some sort of frozen veggie nuggets, a huge cello bag of veggie burger patties, a case of coconut water, and a huge jar of cashew butter. The nut butter made the trip worthwhile.
At last, the purchases were rung up. Dianne ended up with several hundred dollars worth of super discounted merchandise. We wheeled the mega-carts to the parking lot and began to load the Jeep. We placed stuff in every available space in the cargo area, then on and in front of the back seat. The cold items went into soft-side insulated bags and boxes.
We had one last stop–the lunch counter. Dianne ordered a large berry smoothie. I was convinced to have a large slice of the popular Costco pizza. I learned that Costco is one of the biggest pizza sellers in the United States. The generous slice was really tasty, albeit more greasy than the pizza I usually eat.
Once we arrived back in Norfolk, it was time to unload the Jeep and bring the bulky, heavy load into Dianne’s house. I’m glad I was there to help her carry the stuff inside.
I have a few thoughts about the Costco Warehouse after our shopping spree. I think the bargains are worthwhile if you actually use bulk quantities of supplies, for instance the huge bags of pet food. You have to figure in the transportation costs and determine whether or not you’ll save. In Dianne’s case, the rental fees for the Jeep were easily offset by the savings on two months worth of pet food.
There are a few places in the Omaha Costco that I wanted to see, but we didn’t have time to check out. Perhaps they’re worth a solo trip to Omaha, or maybe not.
Will I visit Costco again? Probably not on my own. I’ll likely accompany Dianne to help her load and unload her bargains in the future. While I appreciate the warehouse shopping paradigm, I still prefer shopping at a conventional supermarket.