They come rushing out of the double glass doors with their eyes on the horizon -- or at least the row where they parked their cars -- pushing baskets groaning under their purchases.
As they leave Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, every shopper, especially those who drop $200 or $300 at a time, seems to be saying, Look how much money I saved.
But on Wednesday at 3 p.m., there were plenty of empty parking spots, short lines at the checkout counters and few shoppers in the store.
Looking for frozen fish, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was putting a bag of breaded tilapia in her cart.
I suggested if the package didn't list the origin of the fish -- tilapia farmed-raised outside the U.S. is suspect -- she might want to take the frozen, breaded Alaska cod fillets instead.
I bought a package of the breaded cod and another of frozen cod fillets ($9.99 and $15.49, respectively); Kirkland Signature smoked and sliced wild sockeye salmon ($15.39 a pound); Dr. Prager's veggie burgers ($9.99); 2 pounds of sweet red peppers ($6.99); large hothouse cucumbers ($3.29 for three); sliced, reduced-fat Swiss cheese ($8.99 for 2 pounds); a large, seedless watermelon ($6.99), and Earthbound Farm organic spring mix ($4.79 for 1 pound).
On the way to the checkout counter, I stopped to sample brown rice, and mentioned to a woman I soak mine in chicken broth for two to three hours before turning on my rice cooker, and that speeds up the preparation.
There was only one other shopper in front of me at checkout. What a great day.