Happy Hallowe’en, Costco!


Wow! Did Hallowe’en ever sneak up on me this year or what? I was down at the local Costco a couple of days ago on Saturday, July 30 buying a dufflebag-sized container of peanuts, a megaliter of coffee cream, and a palette of cigarettes when I noticed that they have already started stocking Hallowe’en candies and stuff!

Don’t get me wrong, aside from being a huge fan of Hallowe’en I absolutely love shopping at Costco. It’s my number one favourite one-stop shop for just about everything I need.

One of my younger brothers who also shops there regularly will drop by for a coffee and notice something new around my house. “New piano! Costco?”, he’ll ask. I’ll respond, “Yup. On special, too.” Or I’ll try a new recipe to bring over to his place for a pot-luck dinner. As he samples a shrimp he’ll reflexively ask “Costco?”, and I’ll say, “Yup. I bought the big ones for a change.”

Even acquaintances know about my shopping habits. I went to my dentist and told him that I thought I had an abscess. The first thing he asked was, “Costco?”

Anyway, back to the Hallowe’en stuff… one of the very few things I don’t like about Costco is their scheduling of seasonal items’ display dates. I mean, we’re three months away from Hallowe’en and having a record-breaking hot and muggy summer here. What’s going to happen to the chocolates and candies between now and the end of October? If they sold spooky skull chocolates a little melting might make them a bit scarier, but any normal chocolate bar’s appearance is going to be degraded by all this heat, won’t it? Any hard candies will have ninety days to absorb the atmospheric humidity and by the time Hallowe’en rolls around, they are bound to have become gooey smudges.

A couple of years ago my lawnmower died quietly in its sleep so I had to replace it. My first thought was to go to Costco where I had seen some pretty nice machines at a good price the previous week. When I got down there, all the mowers were gone. I asked an employee if they had been moved to another area of the store and was told that the season had ended, and it was only July! There was still another two or three months of grass cutting left in the year.

And then there’s Christmas. If memory serves, Costco starts putting out the Christmas stock out in mid-September, giving this major-spending holiday over one hundred days of consumer exposure. And the first day they’re open after Christmas, every last speck of Christmas stock, except possibly for edibles, is gone — no buying greeting cards on Boxing Day. The chocolate Easter bunnies make their first appearance before New Year’s Day.

I don’t know about you but I have to be in the moment in order to do my best Christmas shopping. The weather has to be a bit Christmasy. I find it hard to sustain my enthusiasm for more than a couple of weeks for any event. In that way, Christmas shopping is a lot like sex. Here’s an imaginary scenario to illustrate what I mean:

If a wife caught her husband looking at internet pictures of a woman in very revealing lingerie she has three possible options:

  1. She could freak out and accuse her husband of not being satisfied with how she looks and grill me to no end about his desire to cheat on her, or…
  2. She could run out and buy the exact same skanky outfit worn by the woman her husband was electronically ogling, dangle it in front of his face every couple of days but never put it on, and tell him that she has a “very special” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) birthday celebration planned for me a hundred days down the road, or…
  3. She could run out and buy the exact same skanky outfit he was electronically ogling and surprise him on my birthday.

Option #3 is, naturally, her best course of action. It would surprise the heck out of him and you can rest assured I’d get into the moment pretty darned quick!

Option #2 is the stupid choice. The husband will either a.) be worked into a tizzy that will last more than three months, or b.) become blasé over the whole idea. On his birthday, the husband will either jump the gun because he’s been teased for three months or will have long since been prematurely depleted of all the enhanced interest the naughty garment in question was supposed to produce. Either way, the whole thing will be pretty anticlimactic.

Option #1, unfortunately, is by far the most likely outcome.

So, Costco, how about waiting a little longer to display seasonal items and keep them available until a later date? November is just around the corner so if you do not care to heed my plea, at least stock some naughty Valentine’s Day lingerie for the wife in my hypothetical scenario.

UPDATE, August 8, 2011: Today I saw those Christmas gift label tags for sale at Costco.


About HoaiPhai

I'm up late digging up the dirt. View all posts by HoaiPhai

8 responses to “Happy Hallowe’en, Costco!

  • The Hook

    I’ve worked in retail, and believe, me they run 2 – 3 months ahead of the rest of us!
    Great, no, hilarious post!

    • HoaiPhai

      I hate that! You get holiday burn out… when the promotion begins, it’s nowhere near the holiday so you have no emotional reaction and then it sticks around so long that you are desensitized by the time the actual holiday rolls around. Have you ever been to a “Christmas store” where they sell Christmas stuff all year round? There’s one down here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Go in there in August on a hot day and when you leave, wish the clerk a “Merry Christmas”. Look at the clerk’s expression…talk about human suffering!

  • Hippie Cahier

    Along with the line “Christmas shopping is a lot like sex,” and the scenario options that follow (which crack me up!), what I like about this post is its timely pragmatism for a woman whose husband’s birthday might fall in October, and who should thus begin shopping for your birthday present now, while all the skanky pirate girl, nurse, and kitten costumes are on sale at the Costco.

    • HoaiPhai

      Coincidentally, my own personal birthday is in October! Kitten costume, eh? I, er, I mean the hypothetical guy in the tripartite scenario, forgot about those! I, I mean “he”, would wait three months for something like that!

  • Hippie Cahier

    …and another thing…

    I’ve been bothered by this push over the past few years to turn July 25 into “Christmas in July.” This year it was about 172 degrees here and 600% humidity on July 25 and no one was buying into it. One of the few up sides to global warming.

    • HoaiPhai

      My wife’s niece has two young children and the four of them (including the husband) were supposed to come this summer to visit us here in Canada from Korea. In Korea, they don’t have turkeys and they don’t do a traditional Christmas dinner like we do over here (like with Mrs. Claus tucking Santa in for the night while she’s wearing a red and white kitten outfit! That’ll put the X in X-mas!), so I had these big plans for Christmas in July. The kids would go to sleep and then I’d set up the tree, window lights, get the turkey prepped and in the morning, I’d put the Christmas CD on and we’d open the presents. While the turkey’s cooking we could watch Christmas films and some Canadiens’ games I have on DVD. They couldn’t come this year… maybe next! I was really psyched for Christmas in July!!

  • elmediat

    Retail business has effectively used media to create consumer seasons. As an old(er) person, I can remember the Eaton’s Christmas Catalogue creating anticipation and a realistic time – line in a youngster’s imagination. Now, back to school sales start in the middle of July – as a teacher this is unnerving, I’m still in recovery from the last set of classes/meeting/reports. Great post – include a shot of Costco lingerie the next time you get a deal.

    • HoaiPhai

      I have to agree with you about business creating consumer seasons. It used to be businesses stocked goods to respond to the consumers’ seasonal needs. I have fond memories of the Eaton’s Catalogue (and not only for the lingerie section), …it used to mean that Christmas would soon be here but now retailers’ floorspace (not only at Costco) is dictated by what theme will generate the biggest profits, which is understandable from a business perspective but it takes the (I cannot come up with the right word for it right now so I’ll say) “humanity” out of the equation.

      Costco does stock lingerie, but it is the pedestrian day-to-day generic unmentionables and not the “adventure wear” I was talking about in the story. It would be nice if the fictitious guy in the story’s wife could pick up something a little more naughty at Costco, perhaps branded as “Kinky Kirkland” or something.

      Check the update to the story… I saw Christmas gift tags in Costco this weekend.

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