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6 Things I Learned as a Child of Costco-Crazy Parents

In the name of all that is Kirkland, I swear by the quality of KB socks, memories of being pushed on over-sized orange carts, a hot dog and drink for a buck fifty, and the joy of receiving a smiley face on the receipt from the nice lady reviewing purchases at the exit. Why? Because I am the product of true-blue-and-red Costco parents, and I say it loud, I say it proud.

My whole life is in bulk. With parents both part of families larger than eight people, I never stood a chance of knowing a holiday requiring less than three large tables to dine (one, of course, a kid’s table, from which I will never graduate). My parents in turn, Irish Catholics that they are, raised a family of four children in the suburbia of San Diego, California. A family of double-bucklers, room-sharers, and Sorry! team pairs so that everyone could play together. And in a house with three other siblings who know the definition of fair based on the amount of sock pairs retrieved after a laundry load, everyone needed the same things at all times. Luckily, my parents have Costco to thank for allowing them to raise a school of children in a comfortable, economically sound way.

Now, because I Heely’d up and down the perfectly slick floors of Price Club (what the lifers call it) and waited for my parents on a display of a swinging hammock for a’many a’years, I had no choice but to pick up some lessons from the place:

1. Never underestimate the power of a bulk buy. The best buy is the bulk buy. This is the cardinal rule. Yes, you do need a package of toilet paper the size of a sixteen wheeler. It might take few good months, but behold, you will go through it. And besides, if you don’t go through it fast enough, you’ll be thankful you bought it when your daughter decides to start a TP’ing war with the neighborhood kids, and you don’t have to compromise your good parenting reputation by being seen at a Safeway checkout with 20 6-roll packages.

2. Even if a deal is amazing, if you don’t need it, pass it up. When in Costco, not all who wander are lost, nor are they confined to a shopping list. My parents are the largest offenders of this lesson. They love the absence of a “10 items or fewer” line and indulge in whatever their hearts tell them to put on the conveyor belt, regardless of if they have strayed miles away from their original intentions. If I had a dime for every time my parents attempted to go to Costco to load up on staple food items and returned to the car with a new backyard umbrella and a gumball machine, only to then come back the following day to stand in the return line with the gumball machine, I would be able to shop at Dean & Deluca on the regular.

3. Embarrassment of a thrifty-ish lifestyle is a waste of energy. I’m not sure why, but there was a period of my life where I felt Costco was a place for people who needed handouts, as if the mass amounts of free samples were some kind of soup line for middle class families who needed a bit of help. I don’t think I was completely wrong in thinking this because, c’mon, the deals are just out of this world. However, as I grew older, it became clear to me what a large benefit and savings my family made by shopping here. So, now, to the woman in the teal apron, I will be taking that sample of mini chicken tacos with peanut sauce, and that woman over there is my mother who can assure you I do not have an allergy, thank you very much!

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