Three New Costcos!

newcostco - 1 (1)

This week is a pretty awesomeΒ week for those of us in Wisconsin…there are three new Costco stores opening! Of the three, I can see myself shopping at one of them regularly and the other two when I am in their area and need something from there (or just want to have a look around, though the products should be about the same). For Costco, opening multiple locations in a region in a short time is not unusual. They’ve done it in Australia before, but this is the first time that more than one location is opening at one time in Wisconsin.

Actually, these will the the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Costcos opening up in Wisconsin in 2015, with the other one, which I have visited already, having opened in June of this year. This will make a total of 9 warehouses in the state – I’m sure there are more, but there hasn’t been any more rumors or information on future locations. Needless to say, I’m kind of excited πŸ˜‰

What’s the big deal?

Well, this goes back about 6 years ago, when there was just one lonely Costco living anywhere in Southeastern Wisconsin. If you didn’t go to this store, you either just didn’t go, or you had two choices – go to Madison or go towards Chicago – and you’d have to get pretty close to the city to get there. πŸ™‚

I don’t even remember now why I wanted to check the store out, but I did one day and when I had an opportunity to be in the vicinity of the store, I went in and checked it out. My first impression was, well, it’s a good store, but is it really necessary? The next week, I purchased a membership…thus beginning a good relationship between business and customer. You may say that I’m addicted to Costco, but that site’s been taken already πŸ˜‰

Since then, I’ve been in a total of 8 Costco locations – three in Wisconsin, two in Illinois, one in Australia, and two in Hawai’i…and I’ve bought something in every single one of the stores I’ve been into (including a PS3 in my only visit to one in Illinois and a tank of gas followed by a single bottle of allergy medicine in the newest one in Wisconsin…that one was for export purposesΒ ;)).

Everywhere I do go, I spread the “gospel” of Costco to people – whether it’s the $10 veggie tray or all of the awesome things that I get for “free” from there thanks to the money I get back from my purchases through a combination of the Executive membership I have plus my Costco American Express card (which is going away in favour of a new deal with Citibank and Visa next year). I talk about it so much, Costco is a bit of a running joke at work with those who know me well there πŸ˜‰

There’s so much to love about Costco, but one of the things that is awesome is that you don’t see a single ad for Costco on TV or on the radio. Nor will you see them placing inserts into the newspaper – even on Thanksgiving when literally everyone advertises in the newspaper…even their competitors over at Wal-Mart with their Sam’s Club brand. The only advertising you will see Costco do to potential new members is sign up booths around the local area like this one (which was taken in August) –

newcostco - 1

The Now Hiring sign has gone away, but the tent is still there. From what I read on Reddit, apparently there’s an open house the night before the opening…which may explain why they only open one store a day…move all the vendors from one location to the other πŸ™‚ As much as I’d love to go (had I known about it), I have to work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so I won’t be able to go to any of the open houses.

However, I’ll be visiting the one in the top picture on Saturday…I’m expecting it to be an absolute zoo like a normal Saturday

I will show you one thing I highly doubt these Costcos will have…since this was removed from the warehouse it was pictured in over the last 3 years (note the price of gas…$4.179/gal. or $1.104/L for regular, as of 11/1/15 it was $2.299/gal or 60.8Β’/L…and at the Costco pictured below, 10c/gal cheaper!). It’s a self-checkout, a/k/a “you do the work for us without pay”

costco-selfcheck - 1

Over to You

Have you ever shopped at Costco? If a Costco opened in your area, would you try it out? The Membership fee ($55 + tax) is refundable. πŸ™‚

A place for everything…

Well, at least my shoes πŸ™‚

Snoskred has placed a challenge to everyone in the whole entire world to share where their shoes live. I’ve been meaning to write some more recently and the fact that I now have updated my iPhone to iOS 8 and have installed a version of the swype keyboard called SwiftKey on here is a way to test it out.

There is also the still-easy option of using my proper keyboard and computer that I have. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I bought a MacBook Pro about 4 years ago, and it is working quite well for me (even though the hard drive is only down to 18GB free, 50GB of which is pictures!). In fact, most of this post is being written using a keyboard as it is much easier, and then I don’t get myself caught in an infinite loop of words that it automatically suggests. πŸ˜‰

Whoa, tangent. Where was I? Oh yeah, shoes. One thing I have to mention as well, is that Snoskred is responsible for most of the choices of shoes shown here, with the exception of two pair, mostly because she was not present when I purchased the shoes, though her other half was when I did buy one of them, and it’s related (if I’m remembering correctly) to the story of one of her pairs of shoes, which will be coming as a surprise soon.

Anyway, my shoes have a few homes in my residence. Most commonly, I just leave the shoes wherever I take them off. Here you see an area in the den of the house. This is showing my workout shoe collection –

The workout collection

The workout collection

The pair of shoes at the bottom were the first pair of dedicated workout shoes that I had used for about 18 months or so…when you wear them for only an hour a day, they tend to last a lot longer. Over them are my current pair of workout shoes, and are the first pair of shoes pictured that I bought in Hawai’i. These are Adidas Climacool shoes, and I still love the orange color, something that came as a result of my desire to get away from grays and other blandness.

Next up are the living room shoes. Nine times out of ten, this is where the shoes land after I get home from work and working out –

The Living Room collection

From left to right, there are my every day shoes I wear to work, black Rockports which I bought from Costco for only $40 after I had come back from Hawai’i since I wanted a better-fitting pair of shoes than what I had previously. Next we have an awesome pair of sandals that have been in two lakes with no issues, since they’re waterproof. These are Cobians which I got in Hawai’i. Lastly, we have another pair of Adidas shoes – these are the shoes I wear most of the time on the weekend, and on Fridays and casual days to work.

This next pair was living in my bedroom at the time I shot it –

bedroom

It is almost time for me to replace these shoes. These are the other pair of Adidas shoes I bought. I had my doubts about them at first, since they had these nubs on them, but when you wear them for a while, your feet feel SO awesome after taking them off since you get a massage πŸ™‚

There’s one more left –

In-Car camera

This is the normal home for my gym shoes – in my gym bag, sitting in the back seat of my car. They’re there because right after I get done with working, I go right to the gym and work out, so I definitely need these shoes, otherwise I’d be working out wearing dress shoes πŸ˜€

Some of these shoes have longer stories than others – that may just be some fodder for future blog posts πŸ™‚

Gone like Hotcakes

So, on Monday, I mentioned that I’d have something about a toy that I’d be getting this week. So far, I’ve gotten nothing. Well, that’s actually a lie because I did get the thing that I wanted to get so that I could save on this thing.

What is it, you ask? A digital to analog TV converter box of which there is a program underwritten by the US Government to subsidize the cost of the boxes to the effect of upwards of $80 (2 $40 coupons per household).

What had spurred me on to applying for the coupons in the first place was the appearance of the boxes in the local Wal-Mart store. I had noticed them at the beginning of March, on the day when I was doing the test drive to and from work, and we stopped at the store which I pass every day to check it out.

When I first saw them, they literally had stacks and stacks of the boxes. At the time, I thought that they would be in plentiful supply for quite some time. Since seeing them at first, and seeing them in a whole bunch of other stores, I didn’t think anything about it until I received my coupons on Tuesday (I knew that they were coming because the site said that they were sent out on Friday or so), and I had an item on my list that said I’d look at getting the box after work.

So, I stop at Wal-Mart on my way home from work. I had an inkling (from other stores disappearing the boxes in recent days) that they might not have any out, but I checked anyway, expecting to just walk in and walk out with a box for $10 after the coupon.

I get to the electronics section, and there’s nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. Even the display unit has disappeared. I go to ask the clerk in the area, and they make a comment that they’re sold out, but might have some on Thursday or early next week.

Just a side note here – you can tell I want something when I have this unending desire to get it. Do you want an example of this? Well, at midnight, I called up the store which had just opened up in the area.

Lesson 1: Don’t call Wal-Mart at midnight.

Why? Well, you tend to get some of the densest folks in the store. I call them and ask if they have the digital converter boxes. I get put on hold, and after a minute or so, the person comes back and asks if I’m meaning for an audio system. In the end, as far as I can tell, they don’t sell them there. I’d just guess they’re out as well.

We get to Thursday, and I need to go over to another city to pick up some medicine from my clinic, so I decide to make a pit stop at the Wal-Mart there (they’re like viruses, in just about any city now [but not as bad as Walgreen’s, which appear on every street corner {I pass 2 on my way to work every day}]). I head over to the electronics department, and they actually have a box there. Well, not exactly. It is just a display model with a clock ticking down to February 19th, the switch off date for analog TV. Any boxes? Nope. Any in the back? Nope.

So, I go back to the first store which said they might have one Thursday night. They don’t have any, but fortunately, the gal remembers me from Tuesday night, and mentions one important thing – they are backordered. They don’t have any at the store, and even the distribution centre is having a backlog of orders as well, and the next time they might have some available is unknown.

Lesson 2: Do stop at a Wal-Mart early in the morning.

This brings us to Friday morning, and since I have an hour or so between when I arrive and when I start to volunteer, I decided to head down to the Wal-Mart that is about 3 miles south of where I was to see if they had any. The setup was the same as the second store I went to – display unit with countdown clock. No other display, no boxes. I decided to skip over the folks at the electronics counter because I was listening to the reason for stopping at Wal-Mart at 7AM: the Wal-Mart Radio network. They were reading out a list of employees who had worked for them for 20 plus years. It was a simple format – Employee name at store number in city name, x years. It was such a fascinating thing to listen to  because of all the numbers they just roll off in such a short succession. Plus, it was completely content-free radio. Just names read out by some guy, along with some music (which he claimed was requested music).

I get to the door, and strike up a chat with the greeter (because frankly, there ain’t much going on at 7am in a Wal-Mart which has just opened), and I mentioned the converter boxes. She said that they didn’t have any, but I should try the store I had tried (I explained what I was told), along with one that was, well, just too far out of the way πŸ˜‰

She then mentioned that she had cable and was OK with the conversion to digital, which is completely true. I’m safe with it as well, but the biggest reason that I want the box is all the channels that you don’t get on cable (luckily she has the same cable company as I do so she can appreciate it πŸ™‚ ). She also made a comment along the lines that I observed – in March, they had stacks and stacks with no clue what to do with them. Now, you can’t find them.

It’s like they’re disappearing like they’re going out of style! πŸ˜‰

Random Shopping stuff

Yesterday, we had to run to Target to pick up some photos that we had printed professionally – trust me, it cost a lot less to print them professionally than to print them at home – 136 pix printed (with same day pickup) for $28 – compared to having to buy probably at least two or 3 color cartridges at $15 or so each, and probably a black cartridge at $6 – plus having to buy some more paper, you can see the logic behind getting professional printing done.

Anyway, as we were perusing the stuff in the store, I looked at the cards section, and they had something I had never seen before – political cards. They had a couple of cards featuring Barack Obama – one was with him in a mockup of what you’d see on the Oprah magazine, with headlines like “How to Spend Liberally to look Conservative” and other little plays on words. Another card they had that sticks in my mind was one featuring our ever-so-smart President and Vice President. Let me put it they way they did it (at least in my memory) –

Cheney: Good news sir. We are getting more than 100 Brazilians to assist us.
Bush: That is great news. (Card flip)
Bush: How much is a Brazillion?

The last line is “A Brazillion wishes to you on your Birthday.” Personally, I think it’s quite brilliant, though I know that there are some diehards in the right wing who will split a vein over it. To them, I simply say be less serious about everything.

Anyway, we then went towards the kitchenware section, where I saw what has to be the most ridiculous thing ever for a kitchen – an avocado slicer. Yes, who needs a spoon and a knife when you can buy one thing that is only good for one task and costs quite a bit more than you’d pay for a spoon and a knife – $12.95 at Target?

The last thing we went to was the soft drinks aisle – while I don’t drink soda anymore, except for the odd taste here and there – my mom still does, but she’s been converted to Coke. We saw that they had them for 3 for $9 for 12 packs, and as I was putting them into the cart, I said, somewhat half-heartedly, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the store closest to us would have them at $2.75 each for sale this week.

As it so happens, we get the Wednesday circulars, and lo and behold, one store has Coke on sale for just that price – 4 for $11 ($2.75 each).

I tell ya, sometimes I feel like freakin’ Nostradamus! πŸ˜‰

Back to School Shopping…out of control!

This week’s Hump Day Hmm is all about school. There are a lot of stories that I could tell about my days at school, but I want to take a different look at going back – the school supply list. It’s one of those things that are a big flashing sign to tell you that it’s time to go back; they have the lists available at most major stores now, unlike in my day when they’d just mail you a list and you’d get on with it.

Of course, this is designed for the parent who lost their shopping list sometime during the summer (or for the parent of the kids who didn’t want to go back to school…I remember being terrified about going back to school for the second grade, each year after that got better though…until college ;)), but anyone walking by can grab one, two or half a dozen.

I can not honestly remember ever having a list of things required for school as long as they have for this school year. Of all the junk I’ve kept over the years, I’ve not kept my school supplies lists, but I’m going to try to do a comparison based on what I recall. πŸ˜‰

4K

This stands for 4-year-old Kindergarten. When I started school, they had a different term for this – “preschool”. I didn’t go to preschool, but I’m guessing that the required supplies were minimal – maybe a small bookbag and the occasional snack for the class.

Now, you have schools giving these toddlers (really, I think 4-year-olds are still toddlers) lists of items to bring in that include scissors, folders, backpacks, and even glue sticks. There’s one school that is giving parents the option of bringing in gift cards to Wal-Mart for photo processing. Last time I checked, photo processing at Wal-Mart cost 19Β’ per photo – 100 photos would then be $19. It makes me wonder how many photos they’re going to print out over the year…

Kindergarten

I think when I went to kindergarten, we might have had to have a backpack, but it was rarely, if ever, used. We might have needed to bring in a pack of crayons, but other than that I don’t remember a big shopping list like they have today. Then again, when I was in Kindergarten, it was only in the afternoon, not an all-day affair like you have today.

I think it’s mostly due to that single change to all-day school that the schools are now asking for a list of items that you would normally see for first grade, or even second grade. The schools are now asking for kids to bring in upwards of 25 glue sticks (the rationale is that buy them now when they’re cheap – that makes sense actually; it’s something you see across many of the supply lists).

As you move up through the grades, there are some interesting similarities. For example, in first grade, schools are now asking that the pencils all be sharpened so that the teachers can give out pencils as the students use them. During the six weeks I was in first grade (which is a story for another day ;)), I was allowed to have my own pencils; if we needed a new one, we just got up and sharpened it, if it was a new pencil, we just had to sharpen it for a bit longer.

I also remember that by the time I was in third grade, we were allowed to have erasable pens – blue or black, however, most of us chose to stick to pencils; now, you have to be in 5th grade before being allowed a blue or black pen, but if you’re in 4th grade, you have to have a red pen (or pencil). Ahh, the days of “hand your paper to the person behind you; here are the answers”. I don’t know if it was just me, or a lot of people, but there was a distinct style of writing 100 on a paper – you made the one, and then wrote the “00” as if it were two capital Os, making something that looked like this –
100
Another trend that I’ve noticed is that schools are now asking for color coded folders. What happened to getting just x number of folders? I remember getting folders of different colors, then labeling them with the subject; we all used different colors, and different designs. I guess that the concept of individuality is now frowned upon in schools?

Moving up to Middle School – grades 6-8 in my area – you have pretty much the same requirements as elementary school, but there are some added items. For example, they tell you the exact calculator you are to have for school – TI-30X IIS Advanced Scientific, needed for all 3 years; I had a Casio calculator that did the same things; I bet it was cheaper as well.

In 6th grade, you need to have a 3-ring zipper binder (so much for all the prohibitions of trapper keepers for all the previous years, now they tell you that you need one!), also 2 dry erase markers and a set of highlighters. 7th graders are required to bring 2 inch-and-a-half binders, a compass, graph paper, and a composition notebook. In 8th grade, you need to have two binders – one at 1Β½ inches, one at 2 inches. They also require a jump drive – at least they haven’t said how big it has to be, but it is an improvement over a floppy disk. πŸ˜‰

I think I made it through middle school using maybe 2 binders – a small one in 6th grade, then a larger one in 8th grade. Interestingly, there is no prohibition on the type of paper that students can bring for middle school – it used to be that you were only allowed to have wide rule (and it is still that way for students in elementary school). Of course, I always went to college rule since it was more efficient, and my teachers never made an issue of it πŸ˜‰

Fortunately, by the time you get to high school, there are no lists of things to bring for class. You’re pretty much expected to have a general idea of what to bring. If you’re needed to bring other supplies in, the teacher tells you. As it is, one of the common restrictions – no wheels – was one that I ignored in high school, being one of the first with a wheeled backpack (which I later abandoned for a more traditional bookbag, one that I use every day now when I go out to walk).

What I’d love to know is what were you asked to bring to school when you were there – was it the laundry list, or just bring the basics? If you have kids in school now, do the required items seem ridiculous compared to when you were in school?