An Insider’s Look at Costco

Take hold of something solid, stand under a doorway, or crawl into your bomb-shelter because I’m about to send some shock-waves through suburbia. Right here, right now, I’m going to drop the first negative review on Zillionaire. Bizzomb. Cue the explosion noise. Light the pyro. Slap on the warning labels.

You might be asking yourself, “What has got this Zillionaire so keyed up?” Well, in the immediate sense that would be the two whiskies I had on my lunch break today. In the long run though, it is places like Costco that are driving me insane and I normally have a high tolerance level for sanity.

First off, the “members only” concept is a little too PGA, pre-Tiger Woods for me. Exclusivity is fine for some things like art and Beanie Babies (Hoot the Owl is retired, folks!), but I’m not going to plunk down a membership fee to get 40 hot dog buns in one bag. In fact, if I ever need 40 hot dog buns in one bag I would hope that I would be too poor to buy them all at once or that I was too rich to even shop for myself. (In case you are playing along at home, I’d take the extreme in either direction, it’s just that middle ground where I need 40 buns in one bag that I don’t want.)

You know, I don’t just mention hot dogs casually here when talking about Costco and membership fees. Hot dog sales are the dirty secret the Costco executives don’t want you to know about. Seriously, they must be laced with something, right? How else can you explain the scenario I saw last time I visited Costco… I literally walked by a table with four women over 70 years old, all wearing semi-fancy older lady apparel with that gaudy gold jewelry that only elderly women pull off, chowing down on some foot-longs or something. It was like I was in the Twilight Zone. These women had obviously been drugged or misled to think they were eating something from Olive Garden judging from the way they smiled and chatted about false teeth. Wake up, America! Where else but Costco do people pay membership dues to eat a lackluster boiled hot dog in a warehouse? Not the usual recipe for success in my opinion. Sounds more like prison to me and last I remember, I chose to let my membership at Folsom expire!

But, alas, I’m a Zillionaire so I appreciate and value a place that strives to provide the right ambiance. And Costco’s is nothing but wrong. Let’s start with deli area. The interior designers at Costco sure did find a cushy job. “Heap some boxes there. Stacks some videos over here. No, these tables in the deli area certainly won’t do. Wait, put some umbrellas on them and they’ll be perfect!” Why are there umbrellas on the tables in the deli area! We are indoors. It will never rain, never will a gust of wind need to be diverted, never will a flake of snow wreak havoc on our heads! Are they shading us from the roof lighting? I guess it does feel nice to get out of the glow of halogen once in awhile, but I think people are so hopped up on tainted dog juice that they actually come to believe they are on a tropical island somewhere eating bar-b-q and sipping a Mai Tai.

So lastly, I’ve come to the whole concept of warehouse shopping. Costco saves a little money on the construction of a nice retail outlet, the story goes, so that they can pass on the savings to us consumers. So how come I see the same prices next door at Office-MaxCityDepot? My local Costco is such a dumpy yurt of a place I should be walking out of there with my hands full having only spent the change that builds up in my car’s cup-holder! They stopped passing on the savings a long time ago and now they just pass gas and tell you it’s air-freshener. I, for one, already make what some consider a bulk amount of air-freshener and don’t fall for the Costco sham any longer. I suggest you do the same.

Update: As this piece has morphed (via the comments section) into a discussion of the milestones in my life that have included hot dogs, I’ve decided to post an actual picture that appeared in the Western campus newspaper months ago. Apparently, it was a slow news day. Solo, check the gear!

Dave buying a hot dog.

A Zillionaire Milestone

While everyone else in the country was busy today celebrating Groundhog’s Day, an important milestone almost went unnoticed. Sadly, it’s not the first time we’ve been upstaged by a trained rodent. In case you didn’t know, today marks the one year anniversary of the launch of InternetZillionaire.com.

Our mission was simple: Present the world with a new way to kill time at work. Competition was tough at first, as people clung to their traditions of building rubber band balls and creating massive chains of paper clips. Gradually, people began to find that reading about save the date cards can be just as rewarding as photocopying their butt on the Xerox machine.

Anyway, I thought I’d use this space to share a little about our readership over the past year. Dave installed some tracking software to monitor the visits our site receives. The following are actual statistics about visits from other countries.

Here’s the top five:

1. Canada (282): When you factor in the exchange rate, our zillions are worth ba-zillions up North…

2. Bahrain (103): I couldn’t find Bahrain on a map if my life depended on it. After this many hits though, I think I owe it to them to buy an atlas.

3. Germany (65): This is even more astounding considering we have zero references to David Hasselhoff on our site.

4. United Kingdom (60): I feel honored to give something back to the country that gave us Def Leppard.

5. Bulgaria (56): This isn’t a surprise. Dave and I are like rock stars in Bulgaria.

As you might expect, not everyone came to our site intentionally. Many visits came via a search engine. Here are some actual words and phrases that people typed into Internet search engines that ultimately led them to Zillionaire:

Christbox (2): I’m sure there was a smattering of evangelical Christians disappointed when they found that “Christbox” is our newly adopted slang for an “XBox.”

Maleah McPherson (8): Seriously, Maleah… can you explain this? There are a lot of people googling you.

Eddie Van Halen Capri Pants (2): Actually, my beef was with Sammy Haggar’s Capri pants, but you get the idea.

Celebrity hit in the groin (4): See, I told you there was a huge market for this.

Camo Cumberbun
(2): No tuxedo is complete without oneā€¦

Tango Neutralized (9): This proves there are other grown men out there speaking in an esoteric language rivaling the nerdiness of Klingon.

What will 2005 hold? Well I don’t want to give anything away, but you can expect to hear about my Sonicaire toothbrush at some point. And possibly some thoughts on remote controls. I might even tell you about the time I saw Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved by the Bell) at a comedy club.

So stay tuned. And thanks to all the readers that have visited Zillionaire in the past year, and especially those who have commented. We’ve had fun killing time together…