Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shopping adventure in Hackensack

Celebrate the New Year (2008-12-31 DSC00880)Image by Willscrlt via Flickr

 I had to postpone my weekly trip to Costco in Hackensack yesterday after walking into the store and seeing long lines of shoppers with overflowing carts. North Jersey residents get the day off and what do they do? Shop. But I was hungry, so I abandoned my cart and went  looking for free samples.

There wasn't much: What were those small, dark chocolate things? I had six, then a couple of rice crackers, but the guy with the chips and salsa was trying to sell three bottles of the stuff to another customer and had no samples out.

I headed for the wine and liquor store, next door and not affiliated with Costco. Anyone can shop there. I picked up four bottles of red wine for under $4 each: Crane Lake cabernet from California and Avia shiraz from Chile, not Australia. A fifth bottle,  a Montepulciano D'Abruzzo was $5.99.

When it came time to pay, I pulled out my wallet and saw my Blue Cash Card from American Express was missing. I gave the wine store employee my True Earnings Card, and told him I was going to look for my other card, but as I stepped away, the handle of one of my reusable bags caught the neck of a bottle of $7.99 wine on a display near the register and it went crashing to the floor, splashing our shoes.

I headed back to Costco, first to customer service, then to lost and found, then to the case of Empire kosher chicken parts where I had spoken to a woman, telling her the "all natural" on the package is meaningless and what she wants to look for is poultry without antibiotics. I pulled out my wallet to give her my business card and apparently, the Blue Cash Card went flying to the floor, which is where I found it (it's mostly clear plastic and hard to see unless you're looking for it).

Without further drama, I returned to the wine store, paid and packed my five bottles of wine in another reusable bag, using the first to separate them. The clerk didn't charge me for the broken bottle.

I then drove to H Mart in Little Ferry, about a mile from Costco, and found the Korean supermarket had few customers. It was a pleasure to shop there: 25 cents for a bunch of scallions; $1.29 each for hot house cucumbers 16 inches and 17 inches long from Sunset, which means no herbicides; collard greens that rung up at 79 cents a pound, not the 99 cents on the sign; spicy Korean ramen, 5 packages for $4.99; and two one-pound packages of prepared food -- stir-fried noodles called japchae and seasoned, stewed tofu, $3.99 each.

So my first stop and last stop of the day went smoothly. Before Costco, I went to the Wicker Warehouse, opposite the county jail, to buy a bookshelf.

The woman was nice enough to charge me $149, the price in my catalog at home, and not $169, the higher price effective yesterday with the arrival of a new catalog. The store recently repaired a broken wheel on my wicker armchair for free, replacing the bottom half and all the wheels with an improved design.

For dinner last night, we warmed up the Korean noodles from H Mart, quickly blanched and sauteed the collard greens and enjoyed a roasted-vegetable lasagna from Costco I had in the freezer. It was a satisfying vegetarian meal.

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