Senior hour at the local Costco (Coronavirus Edition)

Line at about 8:15 am at the Brighton Costco. I am standing past the tire center – entrance to the store (and another line) is just around the corner in the distance.

The hubs and I decided to check out the new “senior hour” at Costco this week.

And I have to say, Costco (at least this location) is doing everything right.

That long line? There are reasons! The carts and the line are all outside. The line also wraps around inside where the carts used to be, to keep everyone separated. Most folks were keeping their distance (and most seemed to be over age 60). I’d guess about 40% were wearing masks of some sort. Staff was moving down the line, handing out wipes and vinyl gloves.

Ready to shop! Or maybe rob a bank.
Ready to shop! Or maybe rob a bank.

This is the only store I’ve been where they are limiting the number of people going into the store. Staff are directing traffic – as soon as someone comes out of the store, they wave the next person in.

They have signs. Everywhere. One sign lists what products they don’t have (hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol and ground beef were some of the items listed when we were there). Others remind you of social distancing (with pictures, in case you just don’t get it). They are limiting the number of people allowed in per membership – 2 people. Yes, that means you can’t bring the family.

Signs about distancing are located throughout the store, as are signs limiting how much you can buy of certain products. And if you are wondering if the cashiers will even notice – why, yes. Yes they will, and they will confiscate your extra 5 packs of TP, and your second cart filled with paper towels and Clorox wipes. When you are standing in a huge-ass line to check out, the urge to cheer every time this happened was almost overwhelming.

They have stacks of confiscated products stacked at the registers – in fact, pro-tip here: ask at the register for those wipes you couldn’t find. Chances are staff relieved someone of 6 packages of them.

My most important Costco purchase, the rare and elusive Clorox wipes bundle. I bought one package BECAUSE I GET IT PEOPLE. Also, half of them are going to the kid who works at St Joe’s.
My most important Costco purchase, the rare and elusive Clorox wipes bundle. I bought one package BECAUSE I GET IT PEOPLE. Also, half of them are going to the kid who works at St Joe’s.

While most people were great about keeping their distance – and honestly, it’s easy to do with the Costco XL carts and wide aisles – there are always those few, aren’t there? Like the women who stopped to have a lengthy conversation, positioning themselves on either side of the aisle, with no room for anyone to get through responsibly. And saw, but ignored, the people at either end who were waiting.

I get it. You see people you haven’t seen in a month. Live and in person. But…don’t do this, OK? Call them later.

The checkout lines? Predictably lengthy. I started in the back of the store, in a loop by the hummus, made it to the cheese case, and by the time I had inched up to bath towels I was redirected to another line. Staff walked the lines, moving shoppers with less than 4 or so smaller items over to a cashier in optical.

It was so well managed, that when I got to the checkout area – standing within the large yellow lines that indicated a safe distance (notably, this is roughly the length of your XL Costco cart + you + customary personal space)(unless you are one of those shoppers whose idea of space is to have your cart touching the butt of the shopper in front of you. Don’t be that person.) – I thanked the staff person who was directing the line and told him I thought the store was doing a fantastic job with all of the precautions.

At checkout – you wait until the belt is completely clear to load your items, and if your cart is not full, they will tell you to just leave it all in there. They scan your card and no longer offer to swipe it for you. Plexiglass panels are in place in front of the cashier and the register. In other words, they are taking every step they can think of to limit contact (although I was a little surprised my cashier was not wearing gloves – most seemed to be).

Obviously, the food court is no-go right now, and is completely blocked off including the tables. At the exit, you slide your receipt through an opening in a plexiglas panel to be checked.

Arrival to departure, this was about a 1.5 hour excursion. We had a specific list, and it was small – my guess was this would have usually been a 30-minute shop. So keep that in mind if you go, and factor in a bunch of extra time.

And go on a nice day for that outside line.

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Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary (www.usualandordinary.com). She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012, and as a trustee currently. She is enjoying empty-nesting in Pinckney with her husband, three cats and a few chickens.