Thursday, January 8, 2009

To Costco or Not to Costco

That is the question ladies and gentlemen...

I always battle with my conscience when I drive into the parking lot, pull out my card, and walk in the doors of Costco. My brain becomes overwhelmed at the ceiling high exhibitions of glutony and my little consumer American brain goes in to seizures of joy when I think of all the *stuff* going in to my basket and going home with me. It's consumerism at its worst, lots of big boxes of stuff that will last me forever that I don't really need but I just can't help it and go in to a frenzy. I start foaming at the mouth and all my sensibilities go right out of my head. I become like some nighmarish soccer mom fighting with grannies over the last box of 300 rolls of toilet paper.

Many people agonize over a membership to Costco or Sam's Club or whatever other wharehouse chain that is in their area. They know that the deals can be extraordinary, but price tag at the cash register can be extraordinary as well. For parents who have kids at home, the thought of buying 300 rolls of toilet paper (ok, I'm exaggerating, it's really more lik 50) or 250 diapers at one time and not having to worry about buying more for quite some time sounds wonderful. And it can be, if you can really discipline yourself.

Wharehouse stores rely on our desire to buy buy buy! Here are my strategies for surviving the outing while saving my wallet:

1. Make a list and stick to it. (yeah, that one is obvious but some people don't know)

2. Set a dollar limit. Add up as you go, this will greatly help you determine if you really need that 5 gallon bottle of peanut oil.

3. Stay out of the frozen food section and snack food section. There are very few things in those aisles that we really need.

4. Only go there once in awhile. If that 2 pack of peanut butter will last your family 6 weeks, then there is no need to go there more than every six weeks. Going more often will only make you spend more.

Wharehouse chains are getting more hip to the eco-friendly idea as well. Yesterday, I found 80% post consumer recycled toilet paper and paper towels, organic chicken thighs, organic frozen brocoli, organic almond butter, and babybel cheese at prices either comparable to or less than I could get at a regular store. And that is the crux of the issue. I really can get great deals on good food that will last me a long time to make my life less stressful by going to the store less.

If you can tame you inner consumer, my grasshopper, then a wharehouse store is ok for you. If you can't then maybe you should take a break and reasses what you really need from a store like that.