Costco, the giant warehouse style shopping barn from the US recently imported to Canberra, is a surreal place. The sheer size of it reminds me of pictures of Zeppelin hangers from the 1930s. It's a vast lit cavern of massive shelves teeming with items both large and small.
theDad was in town to see us before he trots overseas for my younger brother's wedding. So as a Canberran (1) experience we took him out to Costco.
Yeah, it was surreal. I showed him the giant over-sized trolleys, we experienced being carded at the door, and then he got to take in the vast well-lit cavernous surrounds. He chuckled at the sheer enormity of it all.
Then we hit the tasting stations with no less than five stations visited; skinless franks, bologna, apple pie, sirloin steak, and salted almonds. My dad being an ex-farmer and agronomist commented the thickness of their meat cuts was very much an American characteristic of butchering.
We had to wait a while at the bologna station, for the tasting station operator, who was cooking the meat dish there and then, had just run out when we were there. We waited ten minutes as the operator, just 24, talked about his life, where he'd been a cook, and how he'd once effectively run their family restaurant at the age of just 14. We were joined there by an elderly Canberran who volunteered the fact that he'd been in Canberra since 1947 and that back then the territory population was just 15 167 people.
We talked a bit about Costco and Bologna man enthusiastically talked about what it was like to work for Costco and the benefit they had from requiring membership—including noting how membership and the checking of receipts at the door reduced shoplifting to practically zero. It was actually gratifying to hear a service delivery person talk with passion and joy about where they worked, a rare experience for me.
As we walked past the food preparation window, for you can see the vast prepared meals being prepared through the viewing gallery behind the food displays, we noticed how hard core their hygiene was. The cooks wore face masks (or beard masks in the case of one guy) in addition to hair nets and gloves.
Christmas decs are for sale already there and, true to Costco form, some of the decoration options were massive. Including a six foot tall ceramic nutcracker soldier complete with the gritted together teeth. Only it didn't actually crack nuts, which I call a fail on. Fathers day also got a look in with a station set up selling bottles of Jack Daniels where you could get the bottle engraved with a personal message there and then, the message scribed onto the glass by a Costco operator. It's a shame though the bottles with sample messages upon them had the commonly inflicted typo of 'Father's day' (2).
theDad's biggest guffaw was reserved for the bakery section, especially upon seeing the giant 2.3 kg apple pie that Costco sells (and whose size precludes entry in a typical oven). The item that caught his eye the most though was the head-sized Black Forrest Cake; 2.4 kg of cake action for $21.95. He mused for a moment about getting one and trying to esky-carry it back to his hometown.
It was an experience taking theDad there and it was awesome being able to spend some quality time with him as I hung shit on the surreal elements of Costco, while at the same time admiring the fuck out of their product range and service delivery.
You won this round, Costco...
(1) As we drive along to see a local exhibition my dad asked what the origin of Mugga was in regards to Canberra, for the name is used on many things such as the Mugga Lane Recycling place. I believe it's named after the tree. But as I searched Wikipedia, trying to enter data into my loaner iPhone Safari as I sat in the back of our small car with theBoy, I also checked out Canberra's wiki. One apocryphal tale claims Canberra is an Anglicization of the local indigenous word for the 'hollow between a woman's breasts'. Which totally suits Canberra—we are the boob cleft between Melbourne and Sydney!
(2) The typo also seen on branding at Target (2a), Newspower, Dick Smith and ALDI.
(2a) However go Target for having branding of two dads and a kid with the tagline 'for all kinds of dads'. What a massively progressive thing to do and what an awesome fuck you to homophobic fucktards. Go Target!