Making Waves column: Bored? Not when there’s Costco

I love to go to Costco, Free food, friendly people, $1.50 hot dogs! Did I mention free food?

Other stores are nothing to Costco. A visit to the megastore is a major event, especially if you don’t get out much.


First off, finding a parking space is a feat worthy of Evel Knievel. You wind through the maze of the parking lot and spy some guy putting his last bag of groceries in the back of his Kia, and then you wait endlessly for him to pull out.

You wait, with the added pressure of three cars looming behind you, but the person always gets in the front seat to leave but takes 8 agonizing minutes fumbling with his keys. You refrain from leaping from your car to throttle him, finally he slowly pulls out.

You’re parked 10 rows from the gleaming facade of Costco and begin the long march to the gleaming City of Oz.

Why they don’t put a dazzling marquee out front with the exultant name of the superstore baffles me, but the front is blank, probably to conceal the endless fun within. For escapees from the old folks home, this is big stuff.

You approach the open door and flash your secret membership card to the guard at the entrance to the palace, and you’re in! Giant TVs swirling with nature shows, surfboards, and precious jewels await you as you pass into the halls.

And then you see the other pilgrims who have made the trek to the holy city, every walk of life; tourists, guys in aloha shirts, girls in blouses, tank tops and dresses, families with keiki running wild, beautiful women, old women, old men, teenagers, crowds of people talking story, a regular Persian Bazaar, the hub of Kona.

Many have driven over mountains from Hilo and long miles from Ocean View to come load up on tons of food and lug it to the ohana back home.

But the real reason you have entered the Emerald City is not for shopping, oh no, that is only a ruse. The real reason you have braved the labyrinth is for the free samples. Fabulous food spread before you at every corner, served by willing workers.

On a good day you can gorge down a 10-course lunch of tamales, brie cheese, chips and dip, hamburgers, salmon from Norway, and pork from Pahoa.

It is a spectacle how the free samples disappear. An employee sets them out and stands back as not to get mauled. In five seconds the morsels are gone, snatched up by all the hands reaching from the crowd.

When you step up to the food platters, you tell them that you are really thinking of buying whatever they’re passing out, but somehow you change your mind.

Soon, you’re as full as a pig at a luau. You wheel your shopping cart along, also a ruse. It is filled with one bottle of Apothic wine and a bag of Doritos. But you have hit every single food table in the massive supermarket, mission accomplished.


Now you approach the freeway jam of shopping carts lined 10 deep leading to the checkout counters. Your job is done. Time to depart from the dazzling palace of Costco, vowing that someday you will actually get a life.

Dennis Gregory writes a bimonthly column for West Hawaii Today and welcomes your comments at