It’s a blessed rainy morning in Carlsbad, and I just heard news that makes me believe that our Carlsbad Costco is a true Christmas winner.
Just saw early financial news that brick and mortar stores experienced a rare 4% decline in Christmas season sales this year, while online sales have surged. And given that I broke my big toe and ankle on Thanksgiving morning this year, I feel my absence might have contributed to this seachange shift in shopping. After visiting the local urgent care center for my ankle on Black Friday morn, I left in a splint (doctors also take off on Black Friday because it is now an unspoken Professional Holiday)–and headed home to login to Amazon, Ulta, Groupon…and Costco.com
I was in no spirit to brave crowded parking lots, long checkout lines and lugging heavy shopping bags around. And even without the broken bones and crutches, I doubt I would have ventured out. But like any red-blooded American woman, I wasn’t going to ignore this unofficial shopping holiday. I just did it online and still saved more than I spent. And Mike was was such a good sport about missing all the shopping fun!
The one store, though, that has won our entire family over, both online and beyond the crowded parking lot, is the Carlsbad Costco.
Like Amazon, they offer free shipping and have great deals. Unlike Amazon, returns are a breeze at Costco and can be done just before I or we enter the store to pick up one or two items and leave $300 later with a few other amazing finds. And willingly stand in a long line to pay, with cashiers who know my first name–because we’ve both been fixtures at the store for so long. In fact, if I were to leave my career as a Carlsbad real estate broker, I would feel right at home at Costco where I already know most of the checkers and many of their shoppers at any given point in time.
My dear and departed Dad, who HATED shopping of almost any sort (“Are we done yet?” “Can we go now?” “What’s taking so long?”), loved going to Costco and exploring its aisles. He loved that there were no dressing rooms, cosmetic counters and pesty sales people trying to help you shop. He loved pushing a cart and exploring Costco’s wide aisles filled with mundane goods and fleeting treasures. He liked the concrete floors, the endless samples, and the presence of other men. It was one store where he felt at home, could fill his car up with gas–and possibly run into a daughter, son-in-law or grandson.
Costco is just that popular. It’s where friends–and even families–sometimes meet.
But their online experience is equally gratifying with an exchange policy that blew us away. Buy something online you don’t like and you can easily return to the store. We weren’t sure what to do when we needed to return a BBQ we had ordered online and which did not fit in the space we had designated. It was far too big to fit into our car. Mike called and was told Costco would arrange for a pick-up and immediate refund.
And it’s not just the nearby Carlsbad Costco that we love. We adore them all. A highlight (not the only one) of our trip to Acapulco, Mexico years ago was a field trip to the Acapulco Costco. It was just as crowded as the ones in the US, with variances in foods, brands and currency. Closer to home, we also frequent Costcos in San Marcos, Vista and occasionally ones further south in San Diego.
I am obviously an unabashed fan of Costco, but know that many others love and trust the experience as well. See something with their Kirkland brand, and you know it has Costco’s strict seal of approval. True or not, I once heard that Paul Mitchell manufactured the Kirkland shampoo and conditioner. Don’t know about their other products, but trust them completely.
This may look like a paid infomercial. It is not.
I was just wondering this morning about the decline in brick and mortar sales and the possible closing of stores–including the likes of Walmart. Costco was not mentioned, and now I begin to understand why. And why Amazon is taking their excellent online experience into the brick and mortar realm.
Perhaps they took a lesson from Costco’s book.