The Wholesale Super-Highway

April 16, 2011

I have a continuous love/hate relationship with Costco.  I love that today I bought a five pound bag of lemons for like $5.  I seriously dislike the fact that at 1pm on a Friday in Woodinville, WA we had to park so far away I had to pack a Nalgene just for my trek to the nearest cart return.  

The small-business supporter inside me cringes when I think of the overly-wide aisles built to accommodate the mammoth carts filled to the brim with “family sized” bulk items that make you wonder if it’s actually for a family of wolves.  However, it’s not the moral conundrum I face between bargain goods and the good of the producers that I am going to talk about, it’s the people we all encounter in those very aisles.

Maneuvering those behemoth buggies through the halls of gallon-sized mayonnaise and a thousand meticulously folded polo shirts is a feat in and of itself.  It’s much like driving and as my husband will tell you, I’m not the best driver when it comes to Costco.  I’m timid, I know, but like any red-blooded motorist I have a tendency to notice the faults in others and dismiss my own.  So here is my assessment of all the other “drivers” at the exclusive club of excess and really big teddy bears.

The Chicagoan –

The motto for driving in Chicago is one thing “pick your spot, make your move.”  That’s the only way to make it through the Windy City.  If you see a spot you take it without regard to personal safety or the safety of those around you, because if you don’t move then you are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt you will never get another opportunity.  There is always that cart-driver in Costco.  He comes out of the ends of aisles with a force that makes you think he was flung from an Angry Birds-type slingshot.  There is no regard for the employee with the flat of toilet paper or the family trying to navigate their kids away from the pianos and other noise makers, there is only the desire to move from the frozen foods to the jams and jellies as quickly as possible.  He stops to scoff at any partisan logo or franchise endorsement because clearly his preferred brand (read the Cubs) is better and he will stop you in your tracks to tell you how it is a shame the world hasn't realized it yet.  He shops at Costco because he's loyal and always has but when he goes home he recalls how good Costco used to be, back in the day.  I don't always agree with the Chicagoan, but I respect him nonetheless.

The Minnesotan –

She’s the one who will let you in to her spot in the parade down aisle 9 even if she’s in the biggest hurry she’s ever been in.  She’ll probably smile at you and resent you secretly until she realizes it was her responsibility and then she’ll grab the gallon of mayonnaise while considering if one is enough.  She takes pity on the mom who is desperately trying to scold her child down from the stack of paddle boats that her 8-yr old has magically scaled in the matter of 20 seconds.  She blocks traffic while trying samples of things she knows she won’t like simply because the elderly man peddling soy milk looks lonely.  She refolds the baby clothes she’s pondering and then refolds the clothes next to the ones she was looking at to make them nicer for the next people.  And then when she’s in line to checkout, she’ll sacrifice her prime retail location to restock the second mayonnaise just so the lady in the red vest doesn’t have to do it for her.  She’s kind, but let’s be honest, too kind.

The Seattleite –

He carries an air about him that says he has the right to be there but you're not sure why, frankly neither does he (turns out they got Costco first, that's why).  He goes slowly, looking like he’s going to turn down the aisle of home goods but changes his mind, so right when you decide to pass him he forges ahead with oblivious authority, nearly causing a collision.  The Minnesotan apologizes, the Chicagoan glares and the Seattleite simply seems not to notice.  He waivers on whether or not to try samples, making certain no one else can get to the water crackers with goat cheese.  When he realizes how badly everyone else wants a sample he decides to pass and then signals to the other Seattleites via some 206/425 exclusive iPhone app that the tourists have invaded the goat cheese samples, ergo the samples are no longer cool and they must find a new place to congregate en-mass.  He avoids any aisle with a wet floor sign because driving in inclement conditions warrants a headline that ends in “-pocalypse,” or the need to caulk his cart and float it.  He makes sure his bulk items are organic, free-range and grown locally (read, north of the equator) to justify the massive quantities it will take to fill the Subaru waiting in the parking lot.  He is nice enough but was really hoping that the membership to Costco was really just for him and his friends, and you can tell.  Nevertheless, you’re a little jealous that he got Costco first, so you let it go.

You Might Also Like


  1. I love it!! I do miss our conversations and your descriptions of daily goings-on. And yes, your words ring true about Chicago drivers.


Blog Archive