Guest Post: My Life-Long Love Affair with Costco

June 15th, 2010 · 11 Comments

[This guest post comes courtesy of Kaydee who blogs about being a police wife at, Handcuffed Heart.  She’s had a long, long relationship with Costco, actually since it was Price Club.  She shares a little about how her love for Costco/Price Club started and some of the things she now misses since her Costco doesn’t carry them anymore.  And don’t we all have one of those lists?]

My Life-Long Love Affair with Costco

My love affair with Costco began long ago in my childhood at a store called Price Club.  A visit to “our” Price Club in beautiful San Diego, California, was a family social outing, where we would go for a little fun and our “$50 Block Of Cheese.”  We’d head over the hill and drop down into a little valley where Costco Bliss, cheap Tillamook Cheese, and a $50 bill (definitely NO credit cards back in those days!) spent on who-knows-what-besides-cheese would be waiting.
That Price Club is still there.  I don’t remember a lot of the details of our shopping trips, the “quality” items my parents purchased, or how the store was laid out, but I do remember the family memories all those outings made.  I remember the giant carts without a seat to stash any of us kids.  I remember the big photo cart they would wheel just outside the entrance so you could drop your film there before you headed inside.  I remember bringing markers to color the film envelopes so we could easily find them in the piles and piles of completed film orders.  I remember that every single check-out line had two employees — one that would call out the item number and transfer it to the other basket and one that would key in the item number as it all whizzed by.  No scanners here!
Times have changed.  Price Club became Price Costco and is now simply known as Costco.  I’ve long since moved away from beautiful San Diego, but not before I was given my very own membership at the age of 16 so I could do my own shopping there while on my way home from school.  (That PriceCostco bit the dust, unfortunately!)  There are food courts, gas stations, tire centers, eye exam offices, and many other fancy, new fangled ways by which Costco steals my money.  They still have that cheap Tillamook cheese, it’s just that now when I go to Costco for “just” a block of cheese, I leave having spent $100 instead of only $50 — and I still don‘t know what I bought for all that money!  Oh, the good old days.
Given my long history with Costco, it should come as no surprise that I have a love-hate relationship with the behemoth.  My current store has a lot to live up to.  Those stores I grew up on in San Diego (and continue to visit from time to time when visiting family) really ruined it for all the other stores I’d ever visit after.  The people who work there are super friendly, yet you can hardly have a conversation with an employee before they are finished ringing up your order, they are so quick.  They’re helpful and competent.  There is an esprit de corps there which honestly, I have yet to find at any store near where I live.
While it would be nice to patronize a Costco with outstanding customer service, that’s really not why we shop there, is it?  It’s for the great products at fabulous prices.  These days, I do my best to take anything I buy there with a ‘grain of salt.’  The list is long and distinguished as to what they don’t carry any more — at least at my Costco — which I desperately wish they did.  Some of them my mom will pick up for me at her local Costco and save for me, but for the most part, I’m out of luck when it comes to:
Tortillaland Uncooked Flour Tortillas (you’d never go back if you cooked your own!)
Rice Dream Rice Milk
Coach’s Oats
Nature’s Path Organic Instant Hot Oatmeal
Triscuits
Stonyfield Yogurt cups (not Smoothies!)
Burritos made onsite with the in-house rotisserie chicken  (the enchiladas they do have just don’t cut it!)
I’m sure there are lots of things I’m forgetting.  This is probably my unconscious strategy: to forget what my Costco has “forgotten” so I am not as disappointed every time I go.  Yet I keep shopping there because I have a life-long love affair with this place that satisfies my champagne tastes on my beer budget.
Thanks, Price Club.  Er, Costco!

My love affair with Costco began long ago in my childhood at a store called Price Club.  A visit to “our” Price Club in beautiful San Diego, California, was a family social outing, where we would go for a little fun and our “$50 Block Of Cheese.”  We’d head over the hill and drop down into a little valley where Costco Bliss, cheap Tillamook Cheese, and a $50 bill (definitely NO credit cards back in those days!) spent on who-knows-what-besides-cheese would be waiting.

That Price Club is still there.  I don’t remember a lot of the details of our shopping trips, the “quality” items my parents purchased, or how the store was laid out, but I do remember the family memories all those outings made.  I remember the giant carts without a seat to stash any of us kids.  I remember the big photo cart they would wheel just outside the entrance so you could drop your film there before you headed inside.  I remember bringing markers to color the film envelopes so we could easily find them in the piles and piles of completed film orders.  I remember that every single check-out line had two employees — one that would call out the item number and transfer it to the other basket and one that would key in the item number as it all whizzed by.  No scanners here!

Times have changed.  Price Club became Price Costco and is now simply known as Costco.  I’ve long since moved away from beautiful San Diego, but not before I was given my very own membership at the age of 16 so I could do my own shopping there while on my way home from school.  (That PriceCostco bit the dust, unfortunately!)  There are food courts, gas stations, tire centers, eye exam offices, and many other fancy, new fangled ways by which Costco steals my money.  They still have that cheap Tillamook cheese, it’s just that now when I go to Costco for “just” a block of cheese, I leave having spent $100 instead of only $50 — and I still don‘t know what I bought for all that money!  Oh, the good old days.

Given my long history with Costco, it should come as no surprise that I have a love-hate relationship with the behemoth.  My current store has a lot to live up to.  Those stores I grew up on in San Diego (and continue to visit from time to time when visiting family) really ruined it for all the other stores I’d ever visit after.  The people who work there are super friendly, yet you can hardly have a conversation with an employee before they are finished ringing up your order, they are so quick.  They’re helpful and competent.  There is an esprit de corps there which honestly, I have yet to find at any store near where I live.

While it would be nice to patronize a Costco with outstanding customer service, that’s really not why we shop there, is it?  It’s for the great products at fabulous prices.  These days, I do my best to take anything I buy there with a ‘grain of salt.’  The list is long and distinguished as to what they don’t carry any more — at least at my Costco — which I desperately wish they did.  Some of them my mom will pick up for me at her local Costco and save for me, but for the most part, I’m out of luck when it comes to:

  • Tortillaland Uncooked Flour Tortillas (you’d never go back if you cooked your own!)
  • Rice Dream Rice Milk
  • Coach’s Oats
  • Nature’s Path Organic Instant Hot Oatmeal
  • Triscuits
  • Stonyfield Yogurt cups (not Smoothies!)
  • Burritos made onsite with the in-house rotisserie chicken  (the enchiladas they do have just don’t cut it!)

I’m sure there are lots of things I’m forgetting.  This is probably my unconscious strategy: to forget what my Costco has “forgotten” so I am not as disappointed every time I go.  Yet I keep shopping there because I have a life-long love affair with this place that satisfies my champagne tastes on my beer budget.

Thanks, Price Club.  Er, Costco!

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11 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Jean Ott // 2010.12.26 at 5:12 pm

    Are there any plans for a Costco near Melbourne, FL? There is a new shopping center called The Avenues at Viera which has many high-end shops. The shopping center is surrounded by expensive, new homes. Pleases consider coming to our area.

  2. 2 Kaydee // 2010.06.18 at 9:04 am

    Yes, Tortillaland Tortillas are back ~ after a long hiatus ~ at my Costco. Trust me, I’ve been looking!! The Coach’s Oats are definitely NOT available at my Costco any longer, even after many comment cards and face-to-face pleading at Customer Service. My mom stockpiles from her Costco and I fill up my suitcase when I visit her or she visits me. In fact, after reading this post, Lizzy from Coach’s emailed me. Super nice of her to do that!!

    Yes…. El Pollo Loco had a frozen ‘box’ of bowls (I think there were six bowls). They had chicken, beans, and rice and a little package of cheese you could add in after heating. Now that I type this it sounds so simple ~ I should have been making those myself! ~ but they were sooooo good.

    Personally, I think Costco’s chicken salad is for the birds. To each her own!

  3. 3 dave // 2010.06.18 at 8:11 am

    OMG! Did you just say El Pollo Loco food was available at Costco!?!? I used to live in LA and really miss El Pollo Loco (obviously). Unfortunately I bet they aren’t giving Costco enough volume to ship it around to stores outside of the west coast. Too bad.

    Oh, and our Austin Costco had the burritos for a year or more. I wouldn’t call that temporary. They were very good and we bought them much more often than the chicken salad. To each, his own, I guess. :-)

  4. 4 mike // 2010.06.18 at 1:56 am

    ive seen the tortillaland and coaches oats at several locations… the tortillaland is either in the large refrigerated coolers (where the blocks of cheese are) or the smaller coolers near the deli with the “fancy” foods. the burritos were a temporary item – the chicken salad is a much better use for the chicken, IMO.

  5. 5 Kaydee // 2010.06.17 at 11:53 pm

    FYI…. In the spirit of complete honesty, I went to my Costco this week and they were back in stock with Rice Milk and the Uncooked Tortillas. However, they are definitely NOT carrying my Lifestream Flax Plus Organic frozen waffles or my El Pollo Loco chicken bowls ~ which worked perfectly as fillings for those tasty tortillas! :)

  6. 6 neelie // 2010.06.16 at 10:29 am

    I’m one of those who is genuinely passionate about Costco. There are many reasons why. Products are quality. Prices are good. There is always something new to check out. Staff are friendly. Gas is cheapest in town. I, too, started out with Price Club in the Bay Area of CA. I was in my 30’s, and gained access through my employer’s membership until I got my own a few years later. I used to think the place was called “Price Club” because of the good prices. Then I learned that the fellow who started it was named Price! I have to say I’m rather “stumped” as to why anyone would post on an “Addicted to Costco” blog page that they are”freaked out” by big box stores, and state they “hate all these places with an equal passion.”

  7. 7 JS // 2010.06.16 at 8:00 am

    Even though in the beginning those stores look like endless rows of stuffs, after a few trips you can pretty much figure out where to get your regular stuffs and manage to be in and out in a short time. My last experience shopping with my boyfriend’s mom in some strip mall in Canada was quite bad… We had to look for individual stores in terrible traffic with terrible drivers. And when you are in the stores, you have no clue whatever you are buying is at a reasonable price or not. Therefore you would want to do some bargain hunting in several different stores. It is definitely a fun experience for people who love to shop just not for me. I pretty much never go to the showroom in IKEA unless the things I want to buy is there. As to Costco, we just head toward the bread section and then the meat and then the veggies and fruit… so on so forth. We do not venture in those “dark alleys” unless I was in the mood for it. Our best time was around 10 minutes to get a full trunk of supplies.

  8. 8 Maria S // 2010.06.16 at 7:24 am

    I totally agree Kimberly! I hate huge, dirty stores. Costco felt the same at first – then I fell in love with quality products at great prices. I don’t go there on weekends, though – the crowds are too much for me. I’m lucky enough to be able to get in a weekday.
    My other shopping preferences are farmers markets also! And my Mom has a small local grocery chain that I simply love! I DO NOT shop at Wally’s place because I HATE being nearly finished and realizing I forgot one thing and it is at the other end of the crazy, crowded store.

  9. 9 Kimberly // 2010.06.16 at 3:01 am

    Despite how it might appear from this blog, I really don’t like to shop. So, I definitely prefer to go to one place where I can buy a wide variety of items that are of good quality and offered at fair prices, and for me that place is Costco. Perhaps because I’ve been shopping at Costco for so long it doesn’t overwhelm me, but I get what you’re saying because I totally feel like that when I go to Ikea. I think it is great the amount of choices and things that they have, but I find it a overwhelming to actually shop there. I shop online a lot too because I don’t like to browse for things, This weekend Dave & I went to the mall for the first time in like 3 years I think, though it could have been longer. That said, I also like shopping smaller stores, or things like the local Farmer’s Market because it is convenient and everything is definitely fresh.

  10. 10 tle // 2010.06.15 at 11:52 pm

    It is all about convenience. I have a Sunday and 1 weekday to do most errands and shopping so going to 8 differente stores is a bad move for me and also traffic, parking… will drive me mad. So I shop at Costco for convenience. If I have to purchase something that Costco store does not have then mostlikely I will purchase it online. Most of my shopping is done at Costco, Ralph, Bed Bath and Beyond and Target. I haven’t stepped into a mall for a long while!

  11. 11 XUP // 2010.06.15 at 6:51 am

    I’ve said something like this before here, but I’m always so stumped when people rave on about places like Costco. I have many friends who are passionate Costco shoppers (and I’ve given them the link to this blog). We also have a new TNT supermarket here which is all Asian food and is the size of a Costco and peope are positively orgasmic about it. I hate all these places with an equal passion. They drag me along to try and convert me, but the stores freak me out with their endless rows and gigantic boxes of stuff. Same with those giant home supply places and bed & bath places. And IKEA and stuff. They’re like small cities. I don’t get it. I really don’t. I’d much rather shop at 8 different little stores to get everything I need. Ah well – to each his own, right?

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