Costco, how we love thee!

By Kent Rhodes, Editor—

My wife and I just finished our regular Saturday afternoon trip to the local Goosebury Costco. We are sometimes ashamed to admit that this is our favorite weekend activity.

We didn’t realize how addicted we were to this regular Saturday event until this morning. With the economy the way it is, and the budget stretched a little thin we decided that we needed to watch our money and only spend on the bare necessities. This would mean grocery shopping at Wal-Mart again.

After this visit to reality there was silence for few moments, then the comment was made, I won’t say by whom, “But this doesn’t mean we have to skip COSTCO today does it?” Heavens no, where would anyone get that notion? After all, we may be stretched to the limits, but who could deny oneself a trip to the “event center” of Goosebury.

I know that we are not alone in our feelings for the big “C”. We have been regular Saturday service attendees at COSTCO “worship services” in towns all over the U.S. and Mexico. Oh, yeah, during our trip to Cancun a few years ago we found that they also had a COSTCO. Amazing! But I digress.

Just sit at the food court of your local “C” and watch the people. You’ll see people from your place of work, church, Elks club and gym, You’ll meet people you haven’t seen for years, people that live in neighboring towns, or states. They all come to the COSTCO worship service, many on a Saturday, but apparently some do worship during the week.

When you visit COSTCO on your regular Saturday it seems almost sacrilegious to go again on another day, it’s like going to church in the middle of the week. My wife and I considered going to COSTCO anonymous (there must be just such and organization) after a strange Wednesday afternoon encounter. I had made a sly mid-week stop at the local “C” and had just finished up a vanilla yogurt and was slinking out the exit. What I didn’t know was that my wife and her friends were already in the store beginning to graze. We didn’t discover this until that evening when, through guilt, we both admitted to the breaking of our normal once a week tradition.

To those of you who have not been converted yet, you may not understand the use of the word “graze”. You see, one of the draws of COSTCO is their use of various “food carts” manned by nice men and women who bake, slice, grill, and serve various food products that are for sale in the store. It is a veritable “garden of eatin’!”

The idea, I’m sure, is to temp you into buying the demonstrated product. It sometimes works. But even if it doesn’t, it gets you in the door because you never know what you are going to be served. Salmon, cheesecake, pizza, yogurt, fruit drinks, cheese, fruit, meat balls…all are served in small portions that allow you to sample a dozen or more treats and still have room for a hot dog, pizza, or churro at the food court before you walk out the door.

Even if you go to COSTCO with no intention of buying something, by the time you have visited a bunch of these little carts of temptation, you fill guilty enough to buy something, anything!

And most people have their favorite things to purchase there, so the decision isn’t that difficult. I often feel that I really should not leave without a WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN FOR $5! You can hardly buy an uncooked chicken for that much, let alone one that has been broiled and seasoned and cooked to the point that makes you want to stop the car on the way home and tear off a wing or two.

If you have read this far you may think that I am the COSTCO public relations director. Not true. I just admire business success. And though their food, whether from the carts, the food court, or from their shelves is one of their big draws, they do sell lots of other items from cookware to clothing to books, electronics, computers, and roasted chickens. There I go again.

Okay, as long as I’m on food again lets talk about the food court. $1.50 for a hotdog and a drink. $2 for a slice of pizza as big as your head. I mean really!  How about dipping a hot churro in a vanilla yogurt? And all this while watching people go by with their full shopping carts. It’s a people-watching paradise.

The Goosebury County Fair is being held today, but my wife and I chose COSTCO instead. We’re hooked and my hat is off to the folks at the big “C” for showing us what can happen in America when you give people what they want. I’m sure the fair was nice, but we have other reporters to cover that. As for me and my house, we’re eating chicken tonight, even if it somehow lost its wings on the way home today.

I welcome your COSTCO experiences, good or bad.  Let me know that I am not alone!


Job hunting? Don’t overlook the toilet paper!

By Dean Thomas Bertrand, GSU Dept. of Business
An effective job interview is, or should always be, proceeded by a candidate finding out as much about the prospective employer as possible.

Search the internet, read trade magazines, ask, ask, ask.

But don’t forget to check the toilet paper in the company washrooms.

It is a proven fact that companies that are trying to cut costs (which could be an indication that they are in financial difficulty) go immediately to a lower grade toilet paper.

Go to your interview with enough lead time to get into the bathroom. No receptionist will deny you the use of their facilities when asked. Go immediately to a stall, pull out a few squares and give the TP the finger test. Now, 1-ply paper is obvious and you can make that determination with a visual examination. But there are different grades of 1-ply TP. See how easy it is push your finger through a square. How many times would you have to fold it over to be able to use it the way is was intended to be used. Then apply the following scale:

2-PLY PLUSH paper that would feel good on any part of your body. This is a company you want to work for. Chances are you’ll discover a lot more perks during the interview process.
2-PLY regular. Probably a good company to work for. May not have as many perks, salary may be slightly lower, but all-in-all a good risk.
1-PLY normal. This represents a company having difficulty but not really on the ropes. Cost-cutting measures have been implemented and your salary may be hard to negotiate upward.
1-PLY that doesn’t pass the finger test. The company is on the ropes. They may ask if you can bring your own stapler. Get out now while you can.

Business Briefs is published bi-weekly as a service of the GSU Business Dept.