The first time I walked into a Costco warehouse store was five years ago in Danvers, Massachusetts. My daughter Alex assured me, as we drove down I-95 from Maine, “Mom, they have everything you could possibly need or want.” Indeed they did, and I went a little nuts.
Today I still have several economy-size boxes of Reynolds aluminum foil, plus three boxes of 750-foot-long Saran Premium Wrap. The shelves in my storage pantry also feature a container of Hefty black trash bags I won’t have to replenish until 2020 and a carton of gallon-size Ziploc bags.
And as I recall, it took us four months to consume the Swiss and cheddar cheese platters I bought that day.
What was I thinking? If you’ve been to Costco, you know EXACTLY what I was thinking: Look at these low prices, this is amazing, I’d be smart to stock up, think of the money I’m saving — even though it’s just us two.
Several months later Alex asked if I’d like to go back to Costco. “Mother of God, I could open my own Dollar Store with what I’ve still got,” I said. And for years — YEARS! — I never set foot in the place.
Then last week, Mr. Wonderful spotted a newspaper ad for Costco hearing aids. “This is well worth looking into,” said he, who still has his third grade lunch money and whose hearing tends to be, well, selective. (Somehow, the man who stands on the tee box can hear whispers from adjoining fairways, but “Could you take out the garbage?” doesn’t always reach his auditory canal.)
We signed up for membership online. We drove 45 minutes to Palm Beach Gardens and parked in a lot almost the size of Delaware. We were greeted like long-lost relatives by each and every sales person. We lunched in the “food court” — two hotdogs, two 20-oz. sodas, $3.21. “I LOVE this place,” Mr. W. said.
One hour later we left, having ordered Premium Digital Hearing Instruments. Not to mention buying two tee shirts, three pairs of Kirkland Signature slacks, a 40-oz. can of roasted peanuts and a wheel of brie that should last until the Rapture. Oh, and an iPhone 7.
Had we wanted to, we could have purchased our own coffins, arranged a trip to Hawaii, analyzed our stocks with an investment broker, bought auto and home insurance and stocked up on vintage French wine.
Since the first store opened in Seattle, Washington, in 1983, Costco has expanded to 500-plus stores in the United States and boasts 88-million world-wide members. (Make that 88,000,002, as of last Saturday.) Its largest warehouse store is in Salt Lake City and sprawls 235,000 square feet — approximately five acres.
And if you’re curious about the Picasso that sold at Costco? In 2004 Costco offered an original piece of artwork by Pablo on its online store. The crayon-on-paper drawing of a face, signed and dated by Pablo Picasso, was listed for $39,999.99 on the retailer's Web site. It sold quickly but Costco's chief executive would not identify the buyer.
Thank heavens this was before we became members. I could use a Picasso.