I post a lot of Amazon grocery deals over at Want Not, largely because we have never belonged to a warehouse club and this has always been the cheapest way for me to, say, buy enough Cheez-Its to last my children more than a week without having to take out a home equity loan. Nearly every time I post something I think is a super great deal, though, someone invariably comments, “Oh, it’s less than that at Costco.” And then I make a voodoo doll out of that commenter.
Kidding! (How could I possibly make a voodoo doll without a piece of their hair?) I respond patiently, as I always do, that some of us live in the boonies and do not have a local Costco. I DO NOT HAVE A LOCAL COSTCO. Yes, I understand that it is the Mecca of all things wonderful, but I don’t have one, so just leave me be with my cases of cereal bars from Amazon, okay?!
But… there’s a Costco in towards Atlanta, about an hour from here. And every now and then, Otto and I talk about how even if we only went out there every few months, it might be worth it…? We used to do that with Trader Joe’s, after all. We’d take coolers and go stock up a few times a year. Somehow—perhaps our recent thumbs up from the financial advisor left us feeling like we had too much money?—we decided It Was Time.
We loaded up our coolers and made the trek in, pondering all of the wonderfulness that lay ahead. Why, maybe we would buy STEAKS! Surely everything we’d heard about Costco was true, and one could procure organic, grass-fed, pampered beef deliciousness for pennies a pound, just so long as we were willing to buy ten pounds at a time, right?
Well. It turns out that Costco is kind of a zoo on the weekend. Shocking, I know. Probably we should’ve tried to go in on a weekday, but we have these pesky jobs and whatnot, so there we were with the rest of humanity, and first we had to hit the membership desk to join and get our cards.
I’m not great in large crowds to start with, and there we were trying to talk to the lady behind the desk while a steady stream of people with towering carts full of STUFF filed past. We wanted to know whether it made sense to get a regular “Gold Star” membership (as far as I can tell, that’s the base level, and the moniker is just Costco’s equivalent of “everyone gets a trophy”) or an “Executive” membership because I do own a business and can buy business stuff there and maybe take some of it as a tax deduction. We’d been unable to figure out the real difference between the two accounts from our online research, though.
So there we are, noise and people all around us, and this poor lady behind the counter is trying so hard to explain it all to us, and I sure hope Otto processed what she was saying, because in very short order all I could hear was a word here and there interspersed with Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Wah wah wah membership wah wah wah discount wah wah wah exclusive credit card wah wah wah rebate wah wah coupons wah wah wah wah extra members wah wah wah how would you like to pay for that today?”
Somehow we ended up with membership cards (complete with LOVELY photos, OMG) and a new AmEx account because… umm… reasons (it credits us back part of the membership fee? it’s the only credit card they take there? it will deliver puppies to our home? I lost track)… and it was time to go shop. One thing I do remember from the AmEx conversation was that we needed to spend some certain amount of money to get the membership fee rebate, and Otto expressed some concern about us meeting that minimum amount. HAR HAR HAR.
But Costco has a SNACK BAR with CHEAP STUFF! And that drive into Atlanta had worked up a hunger. Otto had a sandwich and I had a Warehouse Frappuccino (motto: Just Like Starbucks, But Only A Buck Fifty) and got ice cream headache. Because I’m a delicate flower like that. But THEN it was time to go shop.
We popped our Costco cherry with a case of Sun Chips for the kids, giggling about how it already took up half our cart. But there was a COUPON, taking it from cheap to OMGSOCHEAP. Shortly thereafter I discovered a twin pack of no-high-fructose-corn-syrup strawberry jam vats, which is important because SOMEONE who shall remain nameless (though she is nicknamed Frances) eats a sunbutter and strawberry jam sandwich pretty much every day, and I am a heartless monster who refuses to buy HFCS-containing jam. And then there was cheap maple syrup! And giant boxes of Raisin Bran! And cases of yogurt and flats of fruit!
I let Otto map out our route, as I was completely overwhelmed by the time we left the service desk. He’s good at that sort of thing, but it meant that we really did the ENTIRE store. That’s how we ended up deciding that sure, yes, replacing our dying cordless phone system would be a great idea. And yes, the kids had asked for a clock for their bathroom, but why not go ahead and get them a weather station, because it was only a few dollars more, anyway. And the truck needed new wiper blades! And soda is so cheap here, as long as you’re willing to buy eight frajillion cans!!
Did I mention that my parents are coming to visit? Because WINE.
We didn’t end up buying steak; the prices may have been good, but by the time we made it over there, our cart was nearly full and the prices made me woozy (sure, it’s ten pounds, but I don’t really need ten pounds of ribeyes). We bought a sack of chicken breasts, instead, and a more manageable multipack of organic ground beef, so that we can have hipster hamburgers. (I’m pretty sure the cows it came from listened to bands we’ve never heard of.)
Finally our cart was loaded to the gills and we made our way to checkout. Of course then we were faced with some confusion over Proper Protocol; there are conveyor belts, but people seemed to only be unloading certain items, and leaving the rest in the cart. We did the best we could (unloading the small items), and while I was digging through the cart, one of the pineapples I’d put up on the counter upended itself and landed on my foot. A nice stranger picked it up for me. It wasn’t until later, when we were driving home, that I realized a pineapple to the top of the foot HURTS. Fortunately it was my right foot and it’s my left hand that’s screwed up, so now I’m balanced. Or something.
Anyway. Remember how Otto was worried we wouldn’t spend enough? HAAAAAAAAAAA. The final total came up and for a second there I was afraid that Otto was going to throw up his cheap sandwich. Yeah, I don’t think spending money is going to be a problem with this membership. Ahem.
We came home and started unpacking and then realized we should’ve cleaned out the fridge and freezer BEFORE we went (oops). But eventually everything was squared away and despite the high price tag, we congratulated ourselves on buying enough food to last for a long time.
Pity that the kids have already eaten half the Cheez-Its, though. Maybe we should go back next weekend….