In Praise of Costco

Costco (2)

My wife and I have been retired for several years. We are on a fixed income and you may not think that the bulk food giant Costco would not be the first grocery store we might choose. You would be mistaken.

A great number of food and other necessary items save us hundreds of dollars each year. That fact, combined with efficiency, exceptional customer service and a friendly atmosphere make the shopping experience pleasurable.

Like every retail outlet today, the effects of the coronavirus forced Costco to make changes in the operation of their stores. I received an e-mail informing me that only a certain number of customers would be allowed in the store at one time. I expected the worst as I drove to my local warehouse. I needed gas in our truck, eggs, butter, bread, and a few other essentials.

First, the gas pumps. The lines were long, but everyone was patient and about 15 minutes later I drove to the parking lot. Even the farthest spaces were nearly filled. As I walked towards the entrance, I saw a line. As I got closer, I realized the line extended halfway around the building. I took a cart and was prepared to wait for half an hour or more: that didn’t happen.

A young man informed us that when 20 people left the store, 20 people in the line would be allowed inside. Ten minutes later I was in the store. The Costco employee who ushered us in was not only polite, she thanked everyone for their patience. As we held our membership cards high, most were smiling. Inside I met another employee who wiped the cart handle with a sanitizer. She was also smiling. With the exception of one rude woman who pushed her cart into the back of my leg, everyone kept their distance and I was finished in about 20 minutes.

Walking to the checkout lines, which were very long, another women directed me to a man who pointed me to what he believed would be the fastest lane. The carts ahead of me were full, but the cashier quickly went through each item and I was on my way out of the store in minutes.

I was impressed with how organized and efficient the entire staff was during this time of crisis, and they did it with a smile.

The funny part of the story is that I must have arrived at Costco during a peak period. When I exited the store the parking lot was less than half full. If I had arrived one-half hour later, I could have walked right in. I’m glad I didn’t. The experience was a lesson about human nature, and a renewal of my recognition of why I love living in Northern Nevada.

I have been a loyal Costco customer for years, and now even more so.

In contrast, I had to get one item across the street at a store I seldom shop, Wal Mart. I found what I needed, and I was grateful: most of the shelves were bare or nearly so. The faces of the customers were filled with frowns and anxiety. I hurried to the self-checkout and as I left vowed never to return.

Whenever possible, stay home and enjoy your loved ones. We will get through this. I wish our government was as intelligent and efficient as Costco.

The Truth Lives Here

Op-ed by James Turnage

Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart

My eight novels, including “Down from the Mountain,” are exclusively available on Amazon; CLICK HERE; the Kindle app is a free download

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