I kept saying I just wasn’t interested, but she kept telling me she would “hold my hand” and walk me through it and promised me that not only would I love it, but my life would be forever changed.

You never forget your first time. Am I right?

I was living in Los Angeles, and single, and became friends with a publicist named Amy Levy. She was pretty cool, and I enjoyed hanging out with her. Amy really wanted to to be my first, in a sense. I kept saying I just wasn’t interested, but she kept telling me she would “hold my hand” and walk me through it and promised me that not only would I love it, but my life would be forever changed.

“Pretty cocky,” I thought, but finally, one Saturday, when I had nothing better to do, I gave in to her “nagging,” and the two of us did the deed. I have to say, I was giddy and exhausted, and it was true: My life WAS forever changed. That Saturday, just south of the town of Santa Monica and a bit East of Lincoln Blvd., I lost my virginity to… COSTCO!

Shopping at Costco was just an amazing consumer experience and one that, decades later, I still get excited about. Based on my immense affection (and fascination) for this warehouse store (the 2nd largest U.S. retailer behind Walmart!), I thought I’d supply you with my personal COSTCO TOP TEN LIST of tidbits, factoids, and experiences (in no particular order):

 

  1. You can always return an item for a refund. In the return lines, I see people bringing back dead plants or half eaten food. Once, I rented a pickup truck and actually returned a BBQ five years after I bought it! The starter had broken, and the manufacturer no longer sold a replacement part. And the Costco returns person made the process so easy! I got a full refund and picked out a new BBQ and was on my way.
  2. Experiencing a different Costco for the first time is such a rush. Seeing how each Costco is set up the same or differently from my local Costco fascinates me, and finding the 20% or so of unique products for each Costco is a challenge I welcome. Eating a slice of pizza in a Cabo San Lucas Costco tastes EXACTLY like every other Costco pizza I have eaten. The Maui Costco sells many bathing suits and surfboards, and their fresh poke is amazing! This Costco is right next to the airport, so after tourists get their rental cars, they stop in to stock up on food, clothes, and beach toys for their vacation. And before returning to the airport at the end of their vacation, tourists hit Costco to fill up their rental cars with gas. Not all Costco’s sell gas, but when they do… Costco gas is just so cheap!
  3. I am not a big alcohol drinker, but it amazes me how the Costco liquor section grows to a massive size from pre Thanksgiving to the first of the new year. Who knew they’re the largest importer of French wines? Me!
  4. Costco loves to move popular items around the store which forces consumers to go past products they might not usually encounter. Internally, this is referred to as the “treasure hunt.” On one particular Costco run, I got frustrated because the smoked salmon wasn’t where it usually was located, so I asked an employee for assistance. He looked to the rafters and slowly repeated, “Smoked salmon? Smoked salmon?” and then the (Kirkland) light bulb above his head went off. He looked at me excitedly and declared, “You mean, Jewish poultry?!” I simply said, “Yes,” and he showed me the new location for the “Jewish poultry.”
  5. Size does matter! Do I need a 50 pound bag of rice, a huge bucket of peanut butter infused pretzel nuggets, or a five gallon container of mayonnaise? No, but I do find comfort in knowing that it is there if I need it.  
  6. 5 years ago, a Costco cashier was chatting with my son (David was about 3 years old at the time), and she was being very sweet with him. My mother-in-law (who is 26 years older than me) and I were enjoying their banter until… The cashier excitedly said to my son, “Are you having a great day with your grandparents?” My mother-in-law tried not to laugh, and I tried to NOT show my anger! And over the years, three different Costco employees have commented to me on how cute my “grandson” is. (NOTE: Not  an amazingly happy highlight to share but still felt it warranted a spot in this TOP TEN list!)
  7. Costco items with a price that ends in .97 are markdowns. Prices with an (*) mean it will not be reordered, OR it’s a seasonal product and won’t be reordered until the next year. Manager markdowns end in .00 or .88.
  8. Twenty percent  of the products Costco sells are their signature brand, Kirkland, (which generates MORE revenue than the Coca-Cola company) and some Kirkland products are made by famous brands you may or may not be a fan of. Their diapers, for example, are Huggies, their vodka is Grey Goose, and their beer is Gordon Biersch. Oh, and Kirkland dishwashing detergent is made by Cascade.
  9. Food samples! Food samples! Food samples! From meat to cheese to popcorn to protein bars, you name it, they’ll often sample it. Bring your appetite to Costco because the samples are unlimited (Although you may have to navigate the crowds of other sample scavengers.). And speaking of food…
  10. Costco sells over 157,000 rotisserie chickens a day, and the $1.50 hot dog/soda combo has been the same price for 30 years!

I love Costco and so do their employees. Craig Wilson, a VP of Food Safety, has been with Costco for 18 years and recently told Fortune Magazine, “People will bang down a door to come to work for Costco, and once they are there, just about no one leaves.”  Yep, I know the feeling.

Happy shopping!

 

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