Costco has opened its doors in little old Adelaide, and my daughter took me to experience it last night. A few people have asked me to write about it…!
We drive through battered, tired suburbs to the city’s latest ode to the American mega-shopping experience. It both amuses and horrifies me that rejuvenation of these areas focuses on the erection of large shopping centres, as if shopping is the panacea to society’s ills. If only it were that easy. Still, I have been persuaded to submit to this shopping experience, if only to placate the asker.
The asker is my daughter, and society would be proud of the shopper she has become. In that, like many things, we are very different. She is excited, chatting animatedly on the drive there, hoping to win me over to the Let’s Go Shopping! team. I know I am a lost cause.
The shopping trolleys look like they are made for giants, or at least very large men. Like most carts, these are difficult to maneuvre, made more so by their sheer size. I was fooled into a false sense of security by the ease of wheeling the cart into the store. Once inside, though, the trolley gave its uncooperative nature away, particular evident at its inability to veer around corners of the aisles easily.
And there are a flotilla of trolleys, the crowds wheeling them aimlessly or purposefully, depending on the mission. Some carts are full to the brim with large cans and containers, others contain a few smaller items. The shop itself has the feel of an aircraft hangar. Indeed a Boeing 747 could fit, with room to spare. The floors are polished concrete, the shelves reach almost to the roof. Foil air-conditioning channels hang from the ceiling in decorative loops, mirroring the looming Christmas season.
We wander the aisles, and I take in the bigness of it all. Big crowds, big containers, big jars, big boxes, big items, big prices. We bump into people we know, and I inspect the contents of their trolleys while swapping small talk and air kisses. Pasta. Coffee. Washing powder. Cat food. Underwear. Chocolate. All the important things in life.
We line up obediently at the checkout. It’s quick, just as my daughter promised, probably because our items aren’t packed in an orderly way into bags. Instead our goods are returned like homing pigeons to our trolley. One person scans them, another returns them. Efficient, made more so with Paywave. Free card from wallet. Tap consul. All paid.
As we load our groceries into the boot of my daughter’s car, I notice the petrol station, devoid of cars. Fluoro lights bathe its naked driveways in an alien glow. It strikes me that a zombie apocalypse would be more hospitable than this petrol station. Next door, cars are banked up as if a zombie apocalypse were imminent. No $60 membership card required here. Cheap petrol offered by one forces others to fall into line. Lowest bidder wins. Market forces prevail.
We arrive home with our stash, scooping items out of the car boot into our arms, as if they were long lost loves, and carry them indoors. I wonder, not for the first time that evening, who on earth needs a 1.5kg container of peanut butter-stuffed pretzels…