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The Costco Effect

I love Costco. Even after moving back to the Orlando area and finding that I have to drive at least thirty minutes to get to any of their stores in the area, I still keep my membership and drive the thirty minutes. They are one of the most reputable companies in the country, because of the way that they treat their employees. They have actually been criticized by business experts for cheating their shareholders by treating their employees so well. They also carry a huge variety of organic, and non-GMO products that are difficult to find at such a low price anywhere else. I am checked out year after year by the same pleasant and up-beat individuals every time that I visit the same store. It makes me feel good to shop there.

There is another side to this story. I have yet to understand how or why it happens, but to be honest it truly, deeply frightens me. I know that people have joked about Costco’s abundance of samples for years, and I do believe that the samples may be one of the things that draws the freakish crowds into the stores, but that can’t explain it completely. Is it just me who only takes my children to the store out of necessity? Am I the only person who heads in with a list and a plan to get in and out as quickly as possible, so that I can move on and live my frigging life already?

When I go to Costco some days, I feel like I have walked right into the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Herds of human beings wander around openmouthed, with no apparent goal whatsoever. They are not courteous, they seem to be barely awake, they move slowly most of the time, and in a different direction form the one that their vision is taking in. I have seen family groups that I swear I could count into the teens and twenties, herding around the store together. Why is Costco the destination for a family outing? Why have I seen children riding around the store on sample bicycles, or elderly couples having sit-ins in the sample furniture with seemingly no intention of going anywhere anytime soon? I literally wonder if they have to be kicked out when the store closes. These aren’t masses of people with nowhere to go, I can’t see how the homeless would pay for a Costco membership fee just to hang out all day and enjoy the air-conditioning.

I guess what frightens me the most is the fact that these people just aren’t doing anything…well nothing but wasting a whole lot of time and potential. Sometimes I want to scream at them. “Why are you here? What are you even doing? Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” Of course it annoys me trying to navigate around all of their semi-conscious, space-sucking bodies, but I feel even more sorry for the merchants who are there with bigger carts that are harder to handle, who need to get product for their stores and restaurants. I am simply morally disturbed by this phenomenon, but the poor merchants are having their business days disrupted. I know that this is a rant, and I know that it is totally possible that all of these people who I find so disturbing all go home at the end of the day and fall into highly productive lives, but I seriously doubt it. I think that when I go to Costco I just get a condensed glimpse at the problem in our country. These are the numb ones. These are the people who go home and sit in front of the TV for hours, and eat sugary foods, and don’t vote, and don’t play with their children, and never create anything. I desperately want to do whatever it takes to wake them all up, and repair the world. Is that so wrong?


  1. That's why we got the "executive" membership. It lets me in at 10 during the week to avoid the "sample" crowds. Try it out, it's $50.00 a yr more than their regular but if you shop as often as we do , it pays for itself with the 2% rebate. Even better..they will refund the membership [difference] if you don't save enough to pay for it in the year.


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