Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Big is beautiful, by Bureaucrat

There's nothing quite like buying in bulk and at cheapo stores. I love a good bargain, and when the bargain includes bulk quantities, then I'm one happy bureaucrat.

I love discount stores, in particular the weird product range and the low, low prices. Critics would say that the products are flimsy, shoddy and just plain crap. That's true for most things.

But there are still quite a few great products that are sold in these stores. For the critics, I'd like to point out that these discount stores aren't necessarily flogging crap products. Aldi sells the rather delicious 'Merci' chocolates for $4. I've seen the exact same product being sold, alongside with expensive cheeses, wines, aged balsamic vinegars, etc, for $20 at a gourmet deli in Tasmania.... go figure.

Whilst living in London, I despaired at the lack of bargain basement stores. I was so thrilled to come across their PoundLand shops (similar to the $2 Shop). Everything there is a pound. I stocked up on a whole heap of cleaning products and various household products.

Still in London,I missed going to Aldi for cheap groceries. However, one day we chanced upon Lidl, which is another German discount grocery store. What joy I experienced when it stocked frozen whole lobsters from Canada. The lobsters were frozen in a ice tube, and only cost 5 pounds each. Brilliant - the frozen lobster tubes served as a formidable weapon and a tasty meal.

Back around Christmas, I made my first pilgrimage to CostCo. I don't know much about Americans and the US, but one thing they understand is that big is beautiful. As with Australia, the US is a large country with ample space to construct big-ass shopping centres and shops.

Wonderful, organised rows of bulk purchase items - it's like the Ikea for food - from cooking equipment, pallets of foodstuffs, sporting clothes, frozen seafood, fresh produce and many many more things.

One thing that caught my eye (and stomach) was the 1kg butterscotch toffee popcorn. When I saw it, I felt desire - I want, nay, I NEED, the popcorn. Then followed emotions of practically-minded alarm (how on earth could I finish such a huge tub of calorific yumminess) and then greedy-minded realisation of 'holy crap, I can, and will, finish this mammoth tub of artery clogging nuggets of utter bliss'. In less than 24 hours of buying it, I (with the help of the Lawyer and Beaker) managed to wolf down half of the popcorn.

However, it took a few more weeks for me to whittle away at the remaining popcorn. Now the empty tub makes a useful container for my bulk buy of quinoa (which I also got at CostCo).

With our shop over, and to complete the full CostCo experience, Beaker said that we had to try lunch at CostCo. Surprisingly, the amount of space that they've dedicated for the fast food takeaway is small. Imagine hordes of hungry families with their kids and the double-sized CostCo trolleys trying to squish into an area to eat their lunch.

We took our pizza outside on the steps of CostCo. The photo doesn't quite capture the enormity of the pizza. With three hungry adults and one child, we managed to eat about 80% of the pizza.

As you can see above, the slices of pizza were so big that I had to use both my hands to eat it. Bubba Chuck demonstrated her self initiative and problem-solving skills by folding a slice of pizza in half and then using both her hands to devour it.

To paraphase a well-known smallgoods motto: is big, is good.

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