I made one of my rare pilgrimages to Sam’s Club yesterday. I can only go there every so often as it takes a couple of months for us to run through the over-sized quantities we buy. Everything is big because, make no mistake about it, at Sam’s Club size really matters and more is definitely more (although it is noted than in many things in life less is more – such as calories, bragging, inches of snow, debt, etc.).
I was at Sam’s yesterday because I needed candy for my first day of classes and when I think large quantities of candy I think Sam’s Club. It is my belief that every new school year is off to a brighter start when two things are involved – candy and brand new crayons (yes, there is coloring with crayons on day one of my classes…yes, I do teach at a university…yes, the sugar in the candy fuels the creativity with the crayons…yes, there is a method to my madness…yes, they pay me to do this job…yes, I do live a charmed life).
As is so typically true though with a store like Sam’s Club, it is difficult to go in for just one thing. You get your big cart and show your card to be allowed into the “Club” and then you pass all the checkout lanes on the way to the candy/food/household/beauty side of the store and see the lines of folks with carts piled high…and an imprint is made. I have not read this anywhere, but I am guessing that seeing others’ carts all piled up with items has a psychological effect that makes those passing by also want to fill their carts. Perhaps Sam Walton understood this phenomenon and set up the store that way purposefully. Truly, it matters not whether it was purposeful – I believe the effect is there. Case in point, my cart which was filled to the brim by the time I made it to checkout.
I really did believe it was a quickie visit (down the candy aisle and out), but then I just decided to quickly cruise the beauty and food aisles (after all, it was nice and cool in the store and it was hotter than blazes outside). Well, long story short – I managed to find lots of items that I deemed necessary. Really, it was a Sam’s Club visit like any other, but as is typical in my world of constant amusement there was so much to take in there that I wanted to share on my blog.
It was a sample day (is every day a sample day at Sam’s Club?) and as always, there was much lingering in the sample areas. I try and avoid the sampling and when Cheyenne is not with me I can (Cheyenne is a relentless sampler). There was a man there at the store who I saw walking around with two young girls from sample table to sample table. He was on the phone the entire time while the girls flitted from table to table. I remember a time when I would do that – talk on the phone while at the store with my kids. I really don’t do that anymore if I can avoid it. It seems rude and as if you are not present in the moment (not exactly sure when that dawned on me, but it was only within the past couple of years – probably correlated with Cheyenne’s willingness to share her thoughts about how rude she thought it was). At any rate, I don’t recall seeing this man buy anything. He talked, his kids sampled…he talked some more and his kids sampled some more. It occurred to me that one could likely justify the cost of their Sam’s Club membership by going there at lunch time each day and sampling. Think of the genius in that – you sample, you walk, you sample, you walk -you work off the calories in short order after consuming them.
And while I am on calories, I have a complaint to issue with Frito Lay in regard to their Sun Chips. Sam’s Club has a “buy two” deal on chips – a dangerous proposition for someone who should not have even ventured down the chip aisle. I try and still allow Cheyenne to have some more typical snacks from time to time even though they are not the norm in our house. The reason they are not the norm is because when such snacks are around I tend to eat them right along with Cheyenne. My methodology is to buy items that Cheyenne likes, but I do not…well, most days that works. Darn it though if they didn’t have those cheddar Sun Chips. Cheyenne really likes those and so do I. I stood there in front of the Sun Chips for a good long time before grabbing the bag with a sense of resignation. And that is when I realized that Sun Chips are now bagged in a different kind of bag – a bag that makes a tremendous amount of noise when you handle it. I am not sure if this is true universally or only in regard to the Sun Chip bags at Sam’s, but the noise is dramatic and distinctive – check it out and you’ll see what I am talking about. So guess what, there is no quietly sneaking a few Sun Chips from the bag. Oh no. The Sun Chip bag is the antidote to closet-snackers – you snack on Sun Chips and you are suddenly way out of the closet. Damn you Frito Lay…and thank you.
When I finally became one of the folks in the checkout line influencing the purchase patterns of those Sam’s Club patrons just entering the store to get their one thing, I came across Sam’s version of reusable grocery sacks. They sell them in sets of two and since they are larger than average I thought I would buy one set to facilitate a more tidy transition from the Sam’s cart to my car. Well, let me say, those are some big bags! They were so big that I had an excited utterance and outwardly exclaimed (quite loudly I think), “My goodness these are big!” To which the nice young gal who was checking me out responded, “Well, this is Sam’s Club…everything is bigger here.” Yep…in Sam’s Club size really matters.
But big deals are good- right? I got a giant houseplant for under four dollars (and I do mean giant). It baked a bit in my car on the way home and was looking pretty sorry so I put it in my bathtub and gave it a bit of a shower. When I returned later to look at it – well, it had perked up significantly – it made the bathtub look like a tropical jungle. It now reminds me of the plant in Little Shop of Horrors – so I named it Audrey II. If you are a fan of big leafy houseplants – with the operative word being “big” – drive by Sam’s and see what I talking about (they are outside in the overhang area by the exit door).
So I may have started my Sam’s Club trip with the intent of only running in and out for a box of candy, but my trip was super-sized. Still, all in all it was productive. I now have all the candy I went for, all the deodorant I should need for a year (even if I am living in the Mojave Desert), apple chicken sausage (sounded intriguing at the store – I’ll let you know how it turns out), PF Chang’s orange chicken and a number of other food items that seemed appealing in the moment, bags large enough to cart a small child and their favorite medium-sized pet and chips that I can’t get away with quietly snacking on; and, I know where to pick up a great non-fattening lunch should I ever so desire – one sample at a time. Life is good.
Day four hundred and thirteen of the new forty – obla di obla da