Last weekend, I had my very first Costco experience. Now, given that a lot of the visitors to this page are from the USA, home of mega-bulk-buying, that might not seem like a big deal, but here in Australia, Costco is still a bit of a novelty.
To put it in perspective, in the USA there are 416 Costco stores. In Australia, there is one. One single store to cater to the bulk-buy whims of the entire 20 million of us. So a visit to Costco is something of an experience.
I'd never had much interest in it before, other than a vague curiosity after hearing a rumour that you could buy a barrel of 1000 chupa-chips in it from there. But for some inexplicable reason, my Sister had bought herself a membership when the place opened a while ago, and she finally decided she wanted to use it. I was privileged enough to be dragged along as her 'guest'.
When we entered the car park, I started to have reservations. The place was jam-packed. We spent a good ten minutes trying to find a parking space. These reservations disappeared, however, once we'd wedged our car into a nearby crevice and I got my first glimpse of a Costco Trolley. They were HUGE! It was like someone had taken a regular trolley, fed it steroids to pump it up a little, then shipped it off to a bulk buy warehouse once it got too beefy to be sexy any more.
That was when I started to get excited.
We pushed our enormous trolley into the store and found ourselves standing in an aisle full of bulk-packaged sweets. That was it. That was the moment I realised I was in Heaven. Then I tried to move down the aisle and got bashed into by a swarm of other shoppers fighting for trolley space. That was when I realised I was in Hell.
Thus started two hours of good and bad. Tiny little joys - finding a half kilometre roll of baking paper; marvelling at 9kg tubs of washing powder; my sister impulse-buying a kilogram of processed American cheese slices - inter mingled with moments of overwhelming trolley-rage that would put any seasoned road-rager to shame.
The shoppers were a mix of Costco hardened parents bulk buying food and nappies, and excited sight-seers who were simply there for the experience and to exclaim over the amazing things you could buy in bulk.
At one point, we rolled our over-laden trolley down an aisle full of hardware. I paused in front of the biggest set of spanners that I have ever come across. Next to me a man had stopped to look at a set of saws.
'There's so many tools!' he exclaimed feverishly. 'I want to buy them all! I'm going to buy them all! And I don't even know how to use them!'
The biggest problem we faced was that when we first arrived, these bulk packs of food looked HUGE. But after an hour or so of getting lost amongst aisles full of oversized goods, things that were actually massive began to seem normal sized.
The danger in this was highlighted by our last purchase of the day - a fresh pizza, which we intended to cook as soon as we got home. We umm-ed and ahh-ed over it for ages, trying to decide if it would be big enough to feed four of us because it looked a little on the small size. When we got it home, it turned out to be so big that it wouldn't even fit in the oven.
My best purchase of the day, bar none, was this glorious, wonderful item:
|That's right - 1.8kg of Jelly Bellys!|
Anyone who has been reading this blog long enough knows that I have a serious Jelly Belly addiction. So having access to almost 2kg of Jelly Belly jelly-beans at a very reasonable price is not necessarily a good thing.
This is one of many reasons that I won't be hurrying back to Costco anytime soon. I think it's best to leave bulk buying to those of us with slightly stronger jelly-bean resisting will power.