Here in Alaska, everybody goes to Costco. Going for the Big Stockup seems to be the way that people like to buy groceries up here. Maybe it’s like that in the rest of the country and we just don’t know it. After all, we do live with that Old Town Fort Collins mindset, which is a little different than in some places. Anyway, there are actually two (2) Costco stores in Anchorage, and recently, Dan made his first trip to the Big Daddy of big box grocery stores.

He and Eric hitched up their bike trailers and rode to the store. When they got there, Eric put Dan onto his Costco Gold Club Card Membership, (you’re not even allowed into the store without showing your card) and off they went on their spending spree. Of course, Eric, being the Costco veteran was not nearly as overwhelmed by the experience as Dan, who was completely taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the place. It literally is the size of a warehouse, or a jet hanger that could house a handful of 747’s, and not just full of food, but homewares, electronics, big screen TV’s… just about everything the modern person would ever need. It’s really the biggest retail store that Dan has ever set foot in, with long aisles, and high metal shelving that it stacked with industrial/bulk sizes of EVERYTHING. Need black beans? Buy 12 cans to a box. Need eggs? buy five (5) dozen. Need cheese? Buy it in 5 lb. blocks. Or bigger. Need pasta? Buy 8 bags at a time. (Dan was REALLY excited about this one!)

Since TV’s weren’t on the shopping list, the pair headed straight for the food still wearing their bike helmets and clacking on the hard polished concrete floor in their cleated cycling shoes. Dan immediately got lost while getting a sample of pesto on a cracker and tried to text message Eric to see where he was, but soon found him as he went for a little mini pizza sample. You’re starting to get the idea- free samples everywhere!

In short time, Dan and Eric piled their shopping cart as high as they could with all kinds of goodies in large quantities, and proceeded to the checkout. The total bill: $247. Not bad considering the vast quantity of food they bought and the fact that it was to feed three people for hopefully an entire month, or at least some fraction thereof. They wheeled the cart out to their waiting bicycles and, much to the amazement of themselves and a few mildly curious onlookers, packed it into two Yakima Big Tow Trailers (no longer manufactured) and rode home to show Amy their take.

One note- in the world of Big Box chain stores, Costco pays its employees a much higher hourly wage than walmart or sams club, and gives them health benefits and retirement plans. The effects of this are easily seen throughout the store; all the employees are polite and helpful, dress neatly and obviously take pride in their jobs. In fact, Costco’s CEO Jim Sinegal is an outspoken proponent of raising the Federal Minimum Wage. He’s the REAL maverick.

Read the Washington Post Article.

Of course, we still have to go to the store on a regular basis to buy fresh vegetables, so in some ways, it might seem a little silly, but if you’re going to buy cheese, beans and pesto anyway, you might as well get it in massive quantities, which is definitely cheaper in the long run. And besides, that’s just the way they do it up here.