Author Archives: costcoblog

Costco.com Free Sample – Cosamin DS Double Strength

cosamin

Costco.com has a new free sample offer — a 30-capsule pack of Cosamin DS, which is glucosamine and something else in a pill that I guess is meant to make your creaky joints feel better by slowing cartilage breakdown. They say it’s “#1 Orthopedic Surgeon & Rheumatologist Recommended” which sounds like someone who dosn’t speak English wrote it. I once went by a restaurant called “#1 Chop Suey” which that sentence reminded me of. Anyway, go get it if you have bad joints or just like to take supplements like Nick Nolte.

Wear Your Costco Clothes to Costco?

This made me laugh:

About half of my “everyday” clothes are from Costco but I have a rule about not going to Costco in Costco clothes. For some reason I find it embarrassing that other Costco shoppers might recognize my clothes as being from Costco or even worse, that they may be wearing the same ones! It is not that I have anything against Costco clothes or there is any legitimate reason for me to feel embarrassed, it just bothers me for some unknown reason…it makes me feel like a lemming…or a sheep…and I hate sheep. So the other day my Mom and I went to Costco (I have my own membership, which I am oddly proud of) and I discovered (to my horror) that I was wearing nothing BUT Costco clothes. My pants, shirt, jacket, socks, underwear…everything but my bra (and probably only because I don’t like Costco bras) and my shoes were from Costco. My Mom forced me to go anyways. She thinks I am odd. I’m forced to agree.

Costco Has New Board Member

As a (tiny) Costco shareholder, I know I should care about this, but it’s more fun writing about the receipt checker drawing cartoons on your receipt. Anyway, Costco has a new member of the Board of Directors:

Costco Wholesale Corporation (NasdaqGS:COST – News) today announced the election to its Board of Directors of Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At the foundation, which he joined in September 2008, Raikes sets strategic priorities, monitors results, and facilitates relationships with key partners for all of the foundation’s program groups. Until August 2008, Raikes was a member of the senior leadership team at Microsoft Corporation, where he had spent over twenty-five years. As president of the Microsoft Business Division, Raikes built a strong team of leaders and transformed the Information Worker business, delivering dramatic growth in the company’s business productivity line and nearly doubling revenues to more than $16 billion annually.

I’ve never heard of him, but I have heard of Microsoft! And I’ve heard of Bill Gates, too! And Bill Gates’s wife! So this sounds like a good thing.

Happy Holidays, From Your Friendly Costco Receipt Checker

costcoreceipt

I thought this blog was going to be very unique, and then I found Addicted to Costco and then the even more unusual Costco Cakes… and now,  a site that is dedicated completely to Costco Receipt Art.

The theme of the blog is all about getting the Costco receipt checker to draw a little design on the back of your receipt, and then this site collects the drawings. They say that the receipt checker will usually do this if you have kids in the cart, although it’s never happened to us and my kids are still little enough I think.

Anyway, check it out. The owner of the blog even scans the receipts to create cleaner images of the cartoons. That’s sort of weird but who am i to talk?

P.S. Don’t ask the receipt checker to write Merry Christmas, though, you know that’s against the rules.

Square Costco Milk Jugs Continue to Annoy Shoppers

costco_milk

I only buy organic milk in the half-gallon cartons that are 3 to a box, so I don’t have any experience with Costco’s gallon jugs, but here’s another person unhappy with them:

So impossible to pour . . . I get at least half of it on the floor, table and side of the carton every time I pour it.

This New York Times article from back in June talked about the hassle of this jug, but also about its upside:

The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.

Early one recent morning, the creators and producers of the new tall rectangular jugs donned goggles and white coats to walk the noisy, chilly production lines at Superior Dairy in Canton, Ohio. It was founded in 1922 by a man who was forced to abandon the brandy business during Prohibition. Five generations of the founder’s family, the Soehnlens, have worked there.

Today, they bottle and ship two different ways. The old way is inefficient and labor-intensive, according to members of the family. The other day, a worker named Dennis Sickafoose was using a long hook to drag plastic crates loaded with jugs of milk onto a conveyor belt.

The crates are necessary because the shape of old-fashioned milk jugs prohibits stacking them atop one another. The crates take up a lot of room, they are unwieldy to move, and extra space must be left in delivery trucks to take empty ones back from stores to the dairy.

They also can be filthy. “Birds roost on them,” said Dan Soehnlen, president of Superior Dairy, which spun off a unit called Creative Edge to design and license new packaging of many kinds. He spoke while standing in pools of the soapy run-off from milk crates that had just been washed. About 100,000 gallons of water a day are used at his dairy clean the crates, Mr. Soehnlen said.

But with the new jugs, the milk crates are gone. Instead, a machine stacks the jugs, with cardboard sheets between layers. Then the entire pallet, four layers high, is shrink-wrapped and moved with a forklift.

The company estimates this kind of shipping has cut labor by half and water use by 60 to 70 percent. More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam’s Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam’s Club store to two a week, from five — a big fuel savings. Also, Sam’s Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80.

I’m sure you noticed that Sam’s Club is using them, too, and it sounds like you’ll be seeing them more often in the future, so get used to them. In case you need a lesson on how to pour without spilling, one last bit from the New York Times:

“Just tilt it slowly and pour slowly,” Ms. Tilton said to passing customers as she talked about the jugs’ environmental benefits and cost savings. Instead of picking up the jug, as most people tend to do, she kept it on a table and gently tipped it toward a cup.

Mike Compston, who owns a dairy in Yerington, Nev., described the pouring technique in a telephone interview as a “rock-and-pour instead of a lift-and-tip.”

There you go. Now you have to be taught how to pour milk.

The Downside of Costco’s Rotating Inventory, or, A Man Without Oatmeal

I think every Costco shopper has had this experience: you find a product you love at Costco, often a Kirkland brand product, you come to depend on its existence, and then without warning Costco stops carrying it (or stops making it).

Garrett had lost about 50 pounds when Costco stopped carrying Kirkland oatmeal, a staple of his weight loss regime. He decided he had to have that oatmeal and determined to buy all of it before it went away. Today he is successful:

I now have a one year supply of Kirkland signature costco oatmeal, for only the low, low price of 142 dollars.

I know Costco loves to rotate the stock to keep us buying, but, come on, throw us a bone here. Costco, I’ll make you a deal… if I see a discontinued sign on a product and I am willing to commit to $200 worth of purchases of that product if you will keep it on the shelves, then you will do so, at least until I am unwilling to keep following through on that commitment. That seems fair to me. Or do I need to go higher to seal the deal?

The Downside of Costco Peanut Butter Jugs

costco_pb1

From Greg.org:

But here’s the thing about buying a 3lb jar of Skippy [1] peanut butter. No one has a knife long enough to reach the bottom, and you can’t just toss it out and open the other 3lb jar it was shrinkwrapped together with, because a) there’s like a depression or something in the news, b) why go all the way to Costco to save 50 cents on a year’s supply of peanut butter if you’re just going to toss it, and c) in fact, that blob down there is actually like half a regular jar from the deli; it only looks like a small amount because it’s at the bottom of a peanut butter bucket.

Wait, so the knife. No knife that can reach the bottom, so you have to stick your hand in there, and you get peanut butter all over your knuckles

Mike Huckabee Book Signing at Greenville, South Carolina Costco Tonight

Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is signing his book “Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America” at the Costco in Greenville, South Carolina at 6PM tonight. Wasn’t “Do The Right Thing” the name of that Spike Lee movie from a long time ago? Huckabee should have chosen a different name, because that’s the first thing I think of when I hear that book title.

Did you know Mike Huckabee used to be really fat and then he lost over 100 pounds? Here’s how he looked fat:

fat-mike-huckabee

Gay Costco Employee Wins $420K for “Hostile Work Environment”

I’ve been reading about this story as the lawsuit went to court but did not post about it until today:

LOS ANGELES A jury Wednesday awarded a Costco employee more than $400,000 for working in what they called a hostile work environment.

The jury said Juan I. Valera was also retaliated against for being gay and HIV-positive.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about 2 1/2 days before finding that Valera, who is on leave from his job as a photo manager, suffered under a hostile work environment.

However, the panel rejected his claims that he was the victim of sexual orientation discrimination; that Costco failed to provide accommodations for his needs; or that the company acted with malice.

“This was a big verdict for us,” said Valera’s attorney, Leo J. Terrell. “It sends a message to Costco management that they better wake up.”

Terrell said his client might file further litigation because he is
still a Costco employee and was never returned to his original position.

It’s disappointing to see Costco, which is supposed to be so good to its employees, have such a black mark on its reputation. The case seems pretty clear cut. Here’s what happened, at least according to guy’s lawyer:

According to Terrell, after more than 20 years at Costco, everything changed for his client when a new general manager, John Weaver, arrived at the Inglewood location in 2005 and casually used the word “queers” in a statement. Wilcox denied that such a statement was ever made.

Valera took a leave of absence because of the stress, and upon his return asked the assistant general manager to protect him from further insensitive remarks, Terrell said. A day later, Valera claimed his work load was doubled and his pay was cut.

Valera was forced to take a second stress leave and was demoted to cashier, Terrell said. He also eventually was stripped of his benefits, according to his attorney.

In May 2006, the woman who replaced him as photo manager, Elaine Ponce, filmed what was supposed to be a training video. It depicted fellow Costco employee Kenneth Ellison mimicking Valera and calling him “Auntie Juan,” Terrell said.

The tape reportedly begins with Ellison stating to another employee, Carlos Taylor: “Carlos, I have a dilemma; next Friday is my Auntie Juan’s bar mitzvah. He is a transsexual.”

Terrell told jurors there was no doubt the co-workers were making fun of
Valera in the video.

But Wilcox said the three workers merely made the video to illustrate a scenario in which a Costco employee asks for time off on short notice.

After Weaver was shown the video, he demoted Ponce and one of the other
employees involved, Wilcox said.

I don’t know about all that “stress leave”, but when the employees are making a video calling the guy “Auntie Juan” and talking about transsexuals, and the Costco lawyer tries to make the argument that the workers were just making a training video, it’s kind of unbelievable. I’ve never seen a corporate training video with a lot of talk about transsexuals named Auntie Juan going to their bar mitzvahs, but maybe my workplace is a little more conservative than most. (I don’t think so!)

I don’t know exactly what I think Costco should have done, but I do wonder whether they should’ve tried to settle with this man instead of having a trial. That video seems like a real smoking gun to me.

Costco November Sales Down Because of Gas Prices and Stronger Dollar

Costco stock will probably take a hit today, but actually this seems like not-bad news to me:

Warehouse-store chain Costco Wholesale Corp. said Thursday its same-store sales dropped 5 percent in November, dragged down by declining gas prices and foreign exchange rates.

Excluding gasoline deflation and foreign exchange, the company reported a same-store sales increase of 3 percent.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast a 2.4 percent same-store sales decline. Excluding gasoline, analysts expected a 0.3 percent drop.

There’s not a lot Costco can do about gas prices going down, and there’s not a lot they can do about exchange rates. It sounds like they’re controlling what they can control, and if you take away the stuff that can’t be controlled, things are humming along just fine.

I’m prepared to watch my stock go down in value, though :(