I'm sure I've talked about Costco before. That megalithic testament to bulk shopping and warehouse chic. A company that single handedly brought wooden pallets and forklifts into the public eye (after languishing in storerooms and the Goldfinger's mini-base). But just in case I haven't, what about it eh?
It's not like, say, Walmart; people don't have strong opinions of Costco. Either you need to buy a three years supply of almonds, or you don't.
But before Walmart --blight-upon-small-towns-- gained the ire of well-meaning progressive types, Costco might have been a small blip. It ostensibly would have raised the hackles of well-paid professionals at their twice monthly cocktail parties and benefit silent auctions. It's a blight on the landscape, many would have said, it pulls people away from independent groceries and shopping centers : the supposed heart of any community. It's impersonal, corporate. It would have had had many of the same criticisms that Walmart has now. Minus the really really evil ones.
Although, as an armchair city-planner and would-be dictator of the world, I'm not sure the things Costco has taken from us are all that important. Important to me, that is. Maybe I'm the sort who doesn't feel a compulsion to socialise with Old Man Cooper who has owned the grocery by the roadside diner for coming on thirty ought years, and damned if he still is trying to sell rutabagas (50% off). I don't find a small collection of locally owned shops to be preferable to a hangar of goods with it's own gravitational orbit.
Shopping is not a social experience for me.
Hell, if I had my choice, I'd get my comestibles and toiletries sent to me via a complex yet aesthetically pleasing series of pneumatic tubes. Someone name Fourier would man the tubes. He'd have a PhD in Steam Works Arcanum or some cool shit like that. My food would come in heavily riveted containers with my initials embossed in faint blue lettering. Yes, maybe I've thought about this a lot. Or maybe I'm just trying to drive home the idea that shopping need not be social.
Besides, Costco, for all it rips from the hearts of small towns, gives us something that's been lacking in this permissive and lax society: dedication. Real, earnest dedication. No hemming and hawing and "Oh I better phone Ethel, she'll know what to do, she always knows what to do" and checking tea leaves with tarot cards and a small portable weegie board for good measure. No. None of that nonsense.
Costco asks, nay, DEMANDS dedication. Because when you buy that 18 pack of Irish Spring, you better be DAMN sure and dedicated to using Irish Spring for however long it takes a normal person to go through 18 bars of Irish Spring. And who cares how it desiccates every pore of your body and leaves you a lifeless shell, crying out for the blessed touch of a French moisturizer that may have aloe and possibly vera. Who cares that your dry skin has become so flakey that your boss has sent you to get checked for leprosy three times.
This is Costco, this is how Costco rolls. You better know what you like. And you better like it, alot. You better be the damn editor of the local newsletter that covers that product. You better have been invited to the production plant where they make said item and filled out many and multifarious questionnaires. The CEO of that company better have you on his personal Christmas card list. Because you'll be buying enough to supply a small island nation, or a one of those crazy families that are always on TLC with 23 or something children and the mom has a look of bliss that, without a fraction of a doubt, is driven purely by barbituates whose high concentration is non-lethal only to King Kong or a mother who has given birth to 23 or something children.
At Costco, you don't buy reasonably amounts of food. You buy goddamn blocks. Blocks, bricks, cubes. Large, heavy, shrink wrapped shapes that could easily be used to construct a makeshift house or a scale model of the Great Wall of China.
And it takes a dogged determination to finish those things. Dedication to using every last bar of that goddamn shipment of Irish Soap. Because you are a Costco Shopper. And you revel in knowing that you will indeed be eating Captain Tasty's Fish Stix for 4 straight fricking months.
Which is all why, I think, Costco no longer takes the heat that Walmart so rightfully enjoys now. Costco is sacrifice. Costco is dedication. Oh, and Costco doesn't do that whole 'exploit their workers' and 'take life insurance out on them so that the company can profit from their death' thing either.