Ever since my dad shared his Costco membership with me this past August, I’ve been so excited. I grew up doing family trips to Costco, so in some ways, my love and attachment to this massive store and corporation is for nostalgic reasons. I even have fond memories of my parents picking me up from the airport when I’d return home from college, and because it would usually be around lunch time, my dad would have a Costco chicken-bake ready for me, stuffed with big chicken chunks, little bits of bacon, cheese, and Caesar dressing, all in a baked crispy bread casing.
But living in Manhattan, there are many challenges to having a Costco membership. The Costcos nearby are not very close — the closest one is in Spanish Harlem, and the second closest one is in Long Island City. The Spanish Harlem location isn’t anywhere as well stocked with the variety that I was used to at the South San Francisco location my parents used to take me to, and it’s also challenge when you live in a relatively small apartment that can’t easily handle, say, 72 rolls of toilet paper, since everything you buy is in bulk from Costco.
I still managed to spend a whopping $177 there today, which I never, ever spend even in two or three weeks on regular groceries at our local grocery stories near the apartment. I guess I did just stock up on the next year and half’s supply of oil and toothpaste, not to mention what is probably the next five year’s worth of turmeric and red pepper flakes, but there’s so much satisfaction in getting good value and high quality at the same time. I know there are haters out there who think that Costco is evil, but you know what… there’s nothing wrong with getting excited about value at a good price in today’s day and age when the gap between the rich and poor is just getting bigger and bigger. It reminds me of the time when I took a fashion design course at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco one summer, and the designer teaching the class scoffed at all of us for buying our clothes from places like Macy’s or H&M where a t-shirt would cost $10 or a jacket $100. She said that at those prices, they were made with sweatshop labor and that we really should be spending $200 on a t-shirt and $1,000-2,000 on a proper coat to ensure fair wages. Really? Do we all have the budget for that? We’re not all as privileged as she may be with that type of clothing budget.