Thursday, September 15, 2011


Every month, we make an excursion to Costco. There is initially great excitement at the prospect (we don't get out much), and everyone eagerly piles into the car. The kids look forward to the sample tasting. Mr Berman mentally eyes the electronics and prepares to make his case for an extra 50" flatscreen TV. I contemplate which new kitchen appliances I will buy and barely use.

What we always forget is that Saturday afternoon at Costco is hell. Thousands of tortured souls who could not resist temptation, forced to spend an eternity consumed with anguish and futile dreams of escape. We remember this as soon as turn into the parking lot. The conversation is always the same.

"Looks crowded."
"Should have come early, right when it opens."
"Or midweek, after work."

We drive around for 15 minutes, and if we are lucky, eventually find a space without fisticuffs. Parking space sabotage is common. People cut you with steely resolve, and would run over their own children in order to secure a spot. I have a strong moral compass when it comes to parking etiquette, and these outrages have me practically frothing at the mouth. By the time I stagger out of the car, I am exhausted by the strong language and hand signs I have been forced to distribute.

It only gets worse.

The place is impossibly crowded, which enforces a sedate shuffle. I am not sedate, nor do I shuffle. I prize energy, efficiency, speed. But these virtues count for nothing in Costco. So I shuffle around with the crowd, as energetically, efficiently, and speedily as I can, practically grinding my teeth to powder in the process.

Here is our shopping list:
Supersize cheddar
Supersize yogurt
Supersize pretzels
Supersize cheerios
Supersize houmous
Supersize rice
Supersize peas
It continues, in the same vein, for 3 pages.

In addition to food, we also review this month's special offer items. Of particular interest: supersize stretch pants, $11.99. Could come in handy. I place 3 pairs in the cart.

My favorite part is the discount wine store, which we visit after check out. At this point in the proceedings, I am invariably losing the will to live, and it is all I can do to prevent myself from ripping the cork out with my teeth and downing the nearest bottle.

So why do we put ourselves through this?

It's not to save money. Any savings on food are rendered neutral by the ready availability of electronics, kitchen appliances, and supersize stretch pants.

We do it, quite simply, to save time.

A few hours of Costco torture once a month gives us precious extra time with the boys each weekend. We can stroll through the greenmarket without worrying whether we have enough cat litter. Spend a little extra time in the library without dashing off to stock up on loo roll. We could even, god forbid, sit down en famille for a civilized breakfast, thanks to our supersize pack of frozen croissants.

Counterintuitive as it might seem, that precious commodity time is now available at your local Costco store.

See you in the dairy aisle.


  1. when we finally moved to ct. i gave up costco. for a short while i would mosey over to darien but that was for holidays only. i since have convinced myself that this experience isn't worth the super-sized savings. time is money, period. i would rather spend 20 more dollars and avoid the collection of people and experience that comes with costco.

  2. I too love Costco. Here's a tip someone else gave me for helping to navigate it: go backwards.

    Start out in the pharmacy area, work your way up the far aisles, back to the freezer section, through the refrigerated foods, and then back down the kitchen/office supply items.

    This way, when you get to the cashiers, everyone is piling in from the other side, and you get the shorter cashier lines. If the place is busy, this usually saves like 10-15 minutes of waiting in line.