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Norm Blackburn
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Ten secrets of shopping at Costco
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Remember when shopping was an event? Your mom said you needed new pants or shoes. What a bummer it was to try on all those pants while your mom pulled and tugged until you got into them. When she got them home she put cuffs on them. Shoes were different matter. The shoe store had this box. You put on the shoes and stuck your foot into the box. Wow! It showed your foot inside the shoe, toes and all. Later on they took the boxes out of the stores because it was an X-ray that could kill you or make your foot fall off, or something bad.
 
Today shopping is completely different. You have grown up and do your own shopping. We do most of our shopping at Costco. What a concept! A huge building with almost everything a person could want; books, clothes, drugs, golf clubs, meat, computers, the list goes on and on, even coffins in some stores.
 
Costco makes you feel special. You have to belong. You have to show your card to get in. They keep out all the riff-raff and people who “don’t belong”. It’s like a private club. If you are really rich, you can be an Executive Member. Gee wiz, you get in early and earn points. What fun. If only they had valet parking.
 
The parking lot is huge. So huge they put letters on the pavement so you can remember which aisle you parked you car in. Trouble is, I can’t seem to remember the letter when I finish shopping. People with big SUVs, or pick up trucks jockey for places close to the entry. Sometimes there are traffic jams when two vehicles think they got there first or when people with their full carts walk in the middle of the lanes without knowing cars are backed up behind them. No one honks.
 
One of my pet Costco peeves is when people don’t take an extra 30 seconds to put their empty cart in the cart garage. They leave it in the parking stall or up in the median. Come on people, cooperate.
 
You get a big shopping cart or big flatbed wagon before you go in. They make them big not because you need a big cart to put all your stuff in but so you can muscle your way to the front of the sample tables. Ah, the samples! Lots of people go to Costco for a free lunch. But you have to know the tricks. They usually don’t set up the sample tables before one or two in the afternoon. Fridays and the weekends are the best. The really best is Super Bowl weekend. You could have lunch and dinner at Costco without buying anything.
 
I love to chat up the sample ladies. They work hard and I think enjoy a little interaction. They have a speal about the product they are giving out. “This sausage has no trans fats.” I ask, “Really? Trans fats are good for you. Don’t you have any with a lot of trans fat?” Another says, “Try this Swiss cheese.” I say, “Is this cheese really from Switzerland?’ She says, “Well, the box says Modesto.” I say, “Good, Modesto is near the Solvang.” The last time we were in Costco a lady was giving out “imitation shrimp” spread. “Imitation shrimp?” I asked. “What was it really? Horsemeat?” Most of the time I get a blank stare.
 
Every year we have a costume party at Halloween. Last year we dressed up as the sample ladies. I got a Costco butcher to give me those white hairnet hats and I made Costco name badges and we bought red aprons and wore plastic gloves. When our guests came to the door we had Modesto cheese on a tray.
 
I love Costco. I got my last set of glasses there and a flat screen TV and we love the $1.50 hot dogs and Cokes. What a deal. I even don’t mind showing my receipt to the doorperson. All the employees wear name badges. I always call them by name. “Thanks, Evan, for checking my cart to make sure I have everything (and aren’t sneaking out a box of Modesto cheese)”.
 
What I really don’t like about Costco is those darn yellow ramps with buttons they have put between the store and the street. I am sure it is there to warn blind shoppers that they are leaving the store and about to cross to the street. But beware if you have eggs in your cart or if you have a full cup full of Coke and ice with no lid. As your cart crosses the yellow bumps it jiggles and bounces around and spills the Coke and almost scrambles the eggs. I complained about this several times to Mr. Cruger who also spends lots of time in Costco. He has dubbed them “Blackburn Bumps” in my honor. I have yet to see my name on the Costco Honor Bulletin Board but I am hoping. Ron says your cart goes Barrrrump, Barrrrrump when it crosses the yellow Blackburn Bumps.
 
Now here’s a tip to Executive Club Members only. Get ready to show your card. All you regular members please stop reading. If you are careful and go slowly, you can put the front wheel of your cart just outside the yellow strip where there are no bumps. The other wheel will bump but if you haven’t bought too much Modesto cheese, you can slightly lift up the wheel and glide over the whole strip of bumps. Of course, your back wheels will still bump. I haven’t figured out that part yet. Try it the next time you are at Costco and let me know if it works.
 
 
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