A Woman's View: Is there anything you won't buy at Costco?

Published: Monday, April 18 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

Is there anything you won’t buy from Costco?

I read recently about women buying wedding dresses from Costco, and it just stopped me. Really? Wedding dresses. What about standing on the pedestal and twirling? What about the pinning here and tucking there? What about the three mirrors and the chair for your mother-in-law? Something about this didn’t seem right. I had to check with the women of a Woman’s View.

“Oh sure,” Saren Loosli said without hesitation. She is the founder of www.powerofmoms.com. “I would buy anything at Costco if it was what I wanted and a good price. I’m all about getting a good deal.”

Our former congresswoman Enid Greene was nodding as Saren spoke. “Amen,” she chimed in. “I figure it would need alterations, but . . . Yesterday I bought a swimsuit at Costco. If it doesn’t fit, you can’t take it back, but I’ll be throwing stuff over it anyway. It’s just for girls’ camp.” (Which led to an off-air detailed and enthusiastic explanation by my other guests to Enid of Costco’s return policy.)

Part of what fascinates me about Costco is how animated women become when you start talking about it. If you ever need to change the subject and keep it changed, bring up Costco. It’s not just that they’ll buy anything there – anything from wedding dresses to computers to salmon - but it’s affected they way they shop.

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, owner and clinical director of Wasatch Family Therapy said, “I have two lists on the fridge – one Costco and one Smith’s.”

The other women started nodding in agreement. Julie continued, “There are some things we don’t want in bulk, like bananas, but I love it. I don’t want to spend my time going around looking for deals. I want to spend that time being with my family.”

Enid confirmed, “We do the same thing, only it’s Costco and Harmon’s. I’ll say to the kids, ‘today is a Costco day or today is a Harmons' day.’”

Saren said the same thing.

And me? Somehow I want to say something different, but doggonnit, I do the same thing. I have a Costco list and a Maceys' list. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about Costco that speaks so much to our natures. Why do we love its cavernous aisles and cases of everything? Why do we love buying chili powder by the pound and spaghetti sauce shrink-wrapped in threes? Why? If we have big families, we need a lot – that’s the practical answer. But it’s more than that. There is something on a soul level that makes us go to Costco even when we just need M&Ms and a flat of strawberries.

What is that?

Here is my hypothesis.

We like to be surrounded by abundance. It’s the same reason that my friends from Russia used to go to Smith’s every chance they got just for pleasure. (Costco might have killed them.) If there are cases of chicken broth and black beans available for sale, all is right in the world. If tuna fish is sold, not by the can, but 15 cans at a time, what could really be wrong? Just buying 15 cans of tuna fish is an act of faith. It implies I’m going to be around long enough to eat that many cans. Shopping at Costco feels life affirming somehow - the tasting at the end of each aisle and the mountains of muffins.

It’s not about whether we need it or not. It’s the feeling of a harvest, a feast, every time you go, plus a space heater if you need one.

But then again, that’s just one woman’s opinion.

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