Shopping at Costco.

Some time ago I heard of a new shopping phenomenon. It is called ‘Costco shopping’. A bowling friend spoke how he went there and bought new hearing aids. Costco, he explained, is a huge shopping experience and one can buy everything from toilet paper to TVs, nicely crafted funeral caskets to embellished urns, everything for those alive and the dearly departed. The dead are as welcome as the living. This is apart from food, groceries, tyres and petrol. All direct from the pallets or bowsers at vastly reduced prices.

We have an American friend who already some time ago promised us the ‘the full Costco experience’. Last Sunday we arranged to meet up in Sydney’s Balmain where he would then take and drive us to the nearest Costco Emporium for a guided tour.  We are not really in for new shopping experiences but were curious enough to at least go and see it. Getting old doesn’t mean avoiding new experiences. I often regale our expeditions to Aldi. Why stop there? In any case, our friend had promised us to drive; so what the heck?

After arrival we noticed people walking with giant shopping trolleys. The trolleys were huge which, even though most shoppers looked normal sized, made people look smaller in what they actually were. A clever architect could conceivably convert those trolleys in mini-houses. The parking station alone was so large one expected traffic lights,  landings of light aeroplanes, border guards.  And everywhere those giant trolleys with small people pulling them along, all glazed eyed, and hyperventilating with over- excitement.

One needs to be a member for the privilege of shopping at Costco. It costs $50.-. Our friend had a membership card on which we could enter as well. After retrieving a large trolley we walked up several levels to get to the entrance. There were queues entering as well as at the exits. An infectious hurry is what seemed to drive most shoppers. In fact, the whole Costco event is finely tuned to spending and impulse buying . Impulse buying is what it seems to be about. The goods are portrayed at eye level and a kind of mass hysteria is honed to perfection. I would say that it is unhappiness and anxiety in most Costco shoppers which is cleverly taken advantage of and exploited by expert psychologists that try and maximise that manner of shopping. Shopping might well fill an otherwise empty life.

Cooked hot chickens were for sale at $3.90. I watched people putting 10 to 20 hot chickens in their trolleys together with towering packs of croissants. What does one do with all those hot chickens and dozens of croissants? Can you imagine going home with complete sides of sheep or pork? I watched someone taking a large pack of chicken breasts out of their trolley and exchanging it for a battery driven drone. What feverish thinking is going on with the shopper during those instant changes of choices?

The coffins looked nice and were temptingly displayed with white sheets tucked around the chrome handles with white plastic lilies poked in for good measure. I saw an elderly man fondling an upmarket nicely embellished urn ready for an impromptu ashes to ashes event. It was right next to a display of car tyres.

Helvi and I ended up buying some baby beetroots, a box of nectarines. Also a box of smoked German sausages and a kilo of sliced Swiss Cheese. (manufactured in Holland.) Our friend drove us to Bar Italia in Norton Str, Leichhardt. It was heaven and the Spaghetti Bolognaise was superb…as always.

All I all, an interesting day.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

42 Responses to “Shopping at Costco.”

  1. freefall852 Says:

    Gerard…after reading of your “shopping experience” above, and keeping in my mind that any shopping the good wife and I do is encompassed within the sensible mall at the Nuriootpa Cooperative where a nice flat white can be ordered for $3.50 ea. I have to ask..: “Can I have some of what’s in YOUR lunchbox!?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I sometimes have a mortadella sandwich, Jo.
      Of course in earlier times, school kids had banana sandwiches tucked in their lunchboxes. During steaming hot days, the banana sandwich would ripen into a gaseous stench, which gave cause to the following joke after some school kid let off farts. ‘Who opened their lunchbox?’
      It caused great delights amongst many. Barry Humphries used that joke to great effect on stage in NYC.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    When you say “coffins”, I think you explain also the size of the trolleys. Are you supposed to bring a body for a fitting ?

    What happens if you die before you pay ? Or just after – which is probably more likely 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Surprisingly, the coffins did have customers studying them at close hand, Trouserzoff.
      I think they had different names. I do remember one name the ‘Magdalena’. It had a Tasmanian oak veneer with large handles. I suppose with some of the more weightier departed, solid handles are needed. There is nothing like the last icy embrace with the departed that focusses on the manner in which to say goodbye. A good coffin or urn is needed.
      I would personally prefer a stern Nordic birch-wood one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • freefall852 Says:

      Trousers…: ” What happens if you die before you pay ?” on that subject, I have family talk of a Irish relative of several generations departed who upon shouting the bar for a birthday drink in a Bandon pub, upon raising his arm high for the toast, promptly dropped down dead with a heart attack!…The punch-line of the dramatic moment, in true Irish tradition was said to be ..: “And begorrah..there was he, the luckiest man alive to be shure..because he hadn’t yet paid for the drinks!”

      Liked by 2 people

      • auntyuta Says:

        FreeFall: I love this kind of Irish humour! I reckon to die of a heart attack like that is a good way to go. I wonder whether he had already chosen a casket or an urn? Gerard, at that great shop that you experienced the other day, there were probably urns available at a great discount? I would not mind to have a look at these. One cannot be prepared too soon, especially when one has turned 84 already! I reckon I should make some inquiries soon. It’s not right putting it off all the time, now is it? 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, they have urns and coffins next to car tyres near the exit, Uta.
        We bought a box of baby beetroots and they are very nice and so are the nectarines.
        We bought a set of shelves from Ikea a few years ago. It came in a flat pack. It took all day to put it together with dozens of little bolts and nuts.

        Like

      • Therese Trouserzoff Says:

        Not exactly alive though 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • freefall852 Says:

        That’s the Irish humour part!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Big M Says:

    All of our larger shopping centres are in a perpetual state of revision, extension and renovation, as though it is some sort of competition, even though they are all owned by Stockland. ‘Funky’ new shops promising a youthful look seem to pop up, but have the lifespan of moths, closing within months. Of course there is the attraction of Gold Pass cinemas, restaurants with international cuisine, car detailing while you shop. and so on. Thankfully we haven’t been exposed to the Costco experience, but then, I wouldn’t mind a dozen lobsters with my new tyres.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Costco did have a special in the Lobster department, Big M. We resisted but the baby beetroots were nice. I sautéed a few in sour cream with lots of garlic and some olive oil. They were very nice. Helvi loves those baby beetroots.
      The iPhone keeps messaging me about all sorts of discounted shopping deals. I made the mistake of giving my details to a cut price garment shop. Now I keep having to delete their messages on specials.
      It is odd how the economy is dependent on endless consuming. At Costco, that is exactly what is happening. A frenetic race to fill trolleys. And then what?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Big M Says:

        There’s been an explosion in tool stores that rival Bunnings in price, but do sell much better quality gear, sans sausage sizzle. They also do a massive trade online, often with free delivery and loyalty discounts. Perhaps they could be under one umbrella with Cosco/Woolies/Aldis, with a seafood giveaway with every table saw?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Therese Trouserzoff Says:

        Hi Gez. I do not believe that “lobster” and “special” fall naturally together. All the lobsters I’ve seen in the last 30 years have been kittens – I gather the term for baby lobsters – and frozen at that – as tough and tasteless as a chilled old boot.

        I bought one as a treat for FM and we proved to ourselves that unless it’s pulled out of the ocean – or tank and cooked before your eyes, it’s not worth eating at any price.

        And the ones that ARE worth eating ,start these days at about $100 and go up from there by weight, .

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Trouserzoff, We used to get a sea-food mix at La Botte D’oro on Victoria rd., Drummoyne years ago. It was the best and hasn’t been surpassed since. I can’t remember ever having eaten lobster, we would not at $100.- a pop.
        We were at Bar Italia last Sunday after the Costco outing. Still good. New owners now.
        The older one gets the tastier the food of the past seems to beckon. Is it dangerous nostalgia creeping in?
        How are you and FM going?

        Like

  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Really? Coffins at Costco? Unbelievable. I buy my computers from the south Austin, TX. Costco. Unlimited and free tech support for the life of the computer and I take advantage of that. Austin also has a Trader Joe’s which my daughter really likes. I think she goes there now, rather than Costco. At any rate, both stores have great features and carry food items that are not available in regular grocery stores. It is amazing how these stores eventually make their way to other countries. I am glad you got the “adventure.”

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Ivonne. I imagine Costco would give a good deal on a computer.
      The problem with Costco is the sheer size of it. It is not for the old. Acres and acres of goods and at the end one feels the need for a good holiday. We have Ikea in Sydney. A few years back we went there and you are supposed to follow arrows on the floor. It takes hours to get through it. Some old people just gave up and ended up laying on settees and even on beds. One old man had to be given life-support and counselling. At the end you get a $1.- hot-dog.
      Costco too is like that. It is too big, and there seems to be an atmosphere of a type of consumer rage. A fanatical hurry to empty one’s wallet.

      Capitalism has it all worked out: spend till you drop. We sell you a nice coffin.

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Gerrard you have me laughing again. I laughed all the way through your reply. I have to agree with you about the fanatical approach of shop till you drop. However, when I go in those huge warehouse places, I go with about 4 things that I want to purchase, One is the computer and the rest is for dried dates and figs and maybe some nuts, I only go when I need a new computer. And I hope I will not need to go for at least 3 more years, that is, if I am lucky.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, Ivonne. It helps to keep a cool head. Helvi was with me at Costco. I was somewhat swept up in the Costco shopping mania too. I nearly bought a box full of frozen lobster tails. Helvi had to restrain me and she put the box back. “What are you going to do with all those lobster tails, she asked?”
        What do people do with all those cheap hot chickens? I was told that many re-sell cheap items. But, do they put the chickens on E-Bay to sell? Chickens that are cooked need to be eaten pretty quickly. Perhaps they deep-freeze them. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres Says:

    This is so interesting. We have a new Costco not so terribly far away, and a friend of mine just joined. She’d never been inside one, and neither have I. She came away raving about their produce section. That surprised me, because I assumed they were mostly about 120-roll packages of toilet paper and such. But, no. She said there was good looking fish, and she came away with organic strawberries and blueberries: enough to freeze, as well as to enjoy fresh.

    I’m quite excited, because now I can go with her, and get myself a packet of work towels. All of the mechanics and such around the boats use a Costco towel that apparently doesn’t show up anywhere else. I found one on the dock once, and snagged it. Now, I guard it with my life. They’re about 15″ square, which is a perfect size, and they’re absorbent as can be. Even better? They don’t have any lint, which always is a problem for me.

    Now, I’m going to send her your post, so she knows she’s engaged in international consumerism!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It is true that the Costco produce was of good quality, Linda. We bought a box of four packets of baby beetroots, a half kilo of garlic, some nectarines and as a concession to my own dodgy dietary needs, a packet of German sausages.
      I am sure you will find good quality.

      Another thought crossed my mind. I don’t know about the US but in Australia we get around Christmas time a peculiar rush to frenetic shopping. It is ‘the running of the shoppers.’

      Last Sunday at Costco we might well have witnessed the beginning of that peculiar cultural annual event. It is perhaps a fear of ‘missing out’ on what others are having. You get this rush of Christmas shoppers running with the trolleys mowing down everything in its path. Children get smacked by nervous mothers and the elderly shy away altogether. The Costco trolley has swivelling wheels at the front only, the back wheels are not, so they are not all that manoeuvrable.

      When the running of the shoppers start we try and avoid shopping or at least wear steel capped RMW boots with reinforced toes. Perhaps in Texas the shoppers remain calm and clear sighted. I am sure!

      Like

  6. freefall852 Says:

    All this Costco stuff..is it mostly of Chinese origin?…and if it is that good, how come they don’t have it in heaven?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    I have serious doubts and concerns about these huge shopping centres and malls. To me, they mark the demise of the shopping strips that have often been so enjoyable to explore when visiting various towns. Some years ago there was a big move in our small town for a Stockland Mall to be built, and whilst some folk were keen for it to happen, many others fought against it, and the building never went ahead. It would have been the death knell for a lively, pretty main street that tourists like to visit ( this town being quite a popular destination) while enjoying weekends visiting the wineries. We locals also like the friendly atmosphere and the cafés and restaurants.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I believe many huge supermarkets are now closing down being replaced by Costco, Amazon type of retail giants. In Sydney the supermarket malls started in the sixties with ‘Bankstown Square’ first off the block. My mum used to go there with a friend during cold winter days. They would take knitting with them. They were warm and provided comfortable seats.
      Some more progressive smaller towns close the main street to traffic enabling shoppers to cross the street in comfort. When large sail-like shades are put up it contributes to the wellbeing of shoppers. Good town-planning is in short supply, but here and there they do pop up!

      Like

  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The way to find out if it is a good company is to ask the person who works there how they are treated. Sam does that for all the stocks we own and Costco comes out a winner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Good for Costco, Kayti. Aldi here has a reputation for good conditions and are credited with having a social conscience. I believe the staff gets well paid but they work hard.
      Costco here is so big. It takes fortitude and determination to go there. For us it would mean a 200 km round trip. I did not see any elderly people. They were all young couples in a hurry.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Oh! Sounds like an interesting day! 😀

    I like Cost Co if I have something very specific to buy there. They usually have good prices. But, I don’t like just wandering around in there as there are so many people clumping up in the aisles just to eat the free samples of food. Ha! 😀

    “ashes to ashes”…Of I didn’t already have my urn or I’d go see what kind they have there!

    How are you feeling Gerard?
    How is Helvi?
    And Milo?
    HUGS and PATS to all of you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We are all fine, Carolyn. Thank you for asking. The cancer is in remission and both our hearts are on medication but growing fonder.
      I don’t think we will visit Costco soon again. It is just too far and too complicated to get inside. By the time the car was parked we had made enemies and getting the 2 finger salute. Nerve wrecking really.

      Of course it was interesting and one reason I wrote this piece.
      Milo is now outside at night. He switched over from scaring possums to chasing rats.

      With feeding the birds the rats came to eat the bird seeds as well. So, we had to stop feeding he birds while Milo tries to get rid of rats together with the help of two cats from next door.
      Hugs,
      Gerard

      Liked by 1 person

  10. freefall852 Says:

    Down the Aisle..
    Your shopping correspondent.
    I see how they do it now..those cunning shelf planners in the supermarkets…How they do product placement in such a way, with the colour-coordination of similar shaped products with their labels all lined up at eye-level and the shiny, bright, flickering labels catching your eye like it does…combined with a cunning and devious use of the fluro lighting from above..A walk down the aisle of the supermarket can be as mesmerising as a hypnotist’s swinging fob-watch!
    You become mesmerised by the shiny packaging and the glinting light of the fluros off them so that you cannot even see the product you first set out to buy even when you are standing right in front of the bloody things!!….I mean..THERE THEY ARE!..staring you in the face but you can’t see them because you have just been hypnotised by the continuing stream of another product mesmerising your mind and now instead of purchasing those cotton-wool buds you came down the chemist products aisle to get, you find you have an almost insatiable urge to buy and instantly consume two dozen economy sized boxes of “choco flavoured laxettes”!
    Another trick they get you on is the smell-factor…: You’ve been at the shopping for nearly an hour now and the old tummy suddenly starts churning and pushing the “hungreeee” button, just as you reach the cheese counter then on your way past the cooked chicken display…and you can just bet they have some sort of tricky fan there stoked with an msg enhancing chicken scent wafting out over the aisle and creating a olfactory riot amongst the dieting young first-time mothers who have just had babies and are trying to get the bod’ back into shape so they can squeeze back into that size 12 swimsuit they used to fit…it’s cruel..
    But if you reckon the health/medical supplies aisle is bad, you wait till you hit the lollies and chocolate dept’!…It’s no accident they have that glinty cellophane wrapper on the lollies..all tumbling out of those little “self-help” boxes like pixies and elves just wanting to frolic about on your taste-buds and help pile on those pounds! …and the chocolate blocks with that golden sheen stroking your vision like a demented Barbara Eden in “I dream of Jeannie”…and don’t tell me it’s just an electrical fault that the fluros flicker in just THAT aisle..so that the hypnotic “voices” calling you from the bars of “Old Gold”(70 % cocoa) , or the crispy wrapped “Mega Mix” of the Ferrero Rocher shelf is a relentless cooee to the ancient animal carnivore in us all crying ; “EAT THE FLESH!…EAT THE FLESH!” sending the more weak-willed chocoholics into a weeping frenzy..(I’ve see it, I tell you!!), tearing wildly at the wrapper and sinking their teeth deliciously and ravenously drooling into the “flesh” of thick hazelnut milk chocolate!!..Can we criticise them?..can we condemn them (I’m asking for a friend)…and, btw…the security personnel ought to show a degree more consideration as well and not just roughly throw them out on their ear…please!
    Till next time…signing off…; your shopping correspondent.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Freefall,
    Hypnotic power might well be the reason for its success. A kind of mass hysteria that draws the customers inside. Whole lot of the brightest coming from Oxford or Cambridge spend entire lives figuring out on how to get people to part with money.
    A combination of words in a sequence, certain colours, electric vibrations all studied and designed to attract the opening of wallets.

    It’s not just the sweets or chocolate, the lobster tails and baby beetroots, but the ‘ total experience’ that counts and relies on repeat shopping. An addiction to a certain nervous tension. You can see it on their faces, all tense with palpitating foreheads, throbbing arteries all rushing to the final relief that only the emptying of wallets can provide.

    At the end of each quarter the figures on consumption are nervously awaited by economist. A dip, and the Dow Jones will be in for a hammering. The slightest fall in consumption and billions are wiped off. Soon the sky will be darkened once again with the Reuben Scarfed dressed bodies hurling themselves from the roof tops. An eerie silence will come about. The parking stations quiet again. The trolleys left cold and lonely.

    The lobster tails rotting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • freefall852 Says:

      Ah, Gerard…the moving finger writes..and writes so truthfully..perhaps some smart cookie techo will invent the “vibrating banknote” that gives a certain “hum of approval” to ones fingertips as you hand it over to the cashier?….a sub-conscious “thank you” that both thrills and pacifies….

      Liked by 1 person

  12. algernon1 Says:

    “Cooked hot chickens were for sale at $3.90. I watched people putting 10 to 20 hot chickens in their trolleys together with towering packs of croissants. What does one do with all those hot chickens and dozens of croissants? Can you imagine going home with complete sides of sheep or pork? I watched someone taking a large pack of chicken breasts out of their trolley and exchanging it for a battery driven drone. What feverish thinking is going on with the shopper during those instant changes of choices?”

    That’s hilarious Gerard. Must be like feeding time at the zoo.

    Like

  13. Christy Says:

    You could certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
    The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who
    are not afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your heart.

    Like

  14. Charlotte Hoather Says:

    I’ve never been to a Cosco but I’m not going to lie, I love the Westfield Centre a large shopping mall in London especially at Sale time, I occasionally wander around looking for the best bargains. Perhaps the thrill of it is just a woman thing 🙂

    I’ve never seen coffins for sale anywhere, it’s quite a good idea though if they are low cost, the funeral directors over here charge a fortune I’ve been told recently by my Aunt who is now planning her own funeral so that her children don’t have to organise it all.

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The Westfield shopper emporiums are big here too, Charlotte. Those coffins had me curious. Do people buy them and store in the attic or garage? Can you imagine lugging them inside from the van? What would the neighbours make of it?
      How are you going, Charlotte? Above all your singing. I miss seeing the cheery image on your blog. How fortunate to have such a great voice!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charlotte Hoather Says:

        I’m doing well Gerard thank you 😊 , I’m just on my way home from late rehearsals for Gilbert and Sullivan’s trial by jury, I’m the Plaintiff, very funny story. Got a bit of jet lag from my New York audition visit so I’m hoping for a full nights sleep tonight. Going home for Christmas for a week at the end of next week yippee, and then January auditions and getting ready for a competition.

        As to the coffins ⚰️ I think it would be quite amusing to have one propped up under the stairs hehe it would certainly start conversations when you open the front door.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: