Sunday, May 3, 2015

Costco Wholesale in Hackensack is a victim of its own success

Large seedless watermelons were $6.99 each on Friday at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

Editor's note: A replacement for the crowded Costco Wholesale in Hackensack can't come soon enough. Today, I also discuss inexpensive bottles at Total Wine in River Edge, and good deals on canned goods from Jamaica at ShopRite in Rochelle Park.


Costco Wholesale in Hackensack opened nearly 21 years ago and has become so popular members know to stay away on the weekends.

I drove over on Friday, hoping to order prints of photos in my iPhone and get a new pair of glasses with HD progressive lenses.

The first sign of a crowd was a long line of cars turning into the entrance from South River Street, prompting me to make an illegal U-turn and enter at the back of the lot, far from the front doors.

The poor design of the lot allows lazy customers to wait for a space near the doors, but that often backs up traffic and blocks South River, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.

The photo counter wasn't busy at all, and I was able to hook up my phone with a store-provided cable and order more than 60 photos for our scrapbooks.

Evil eye

But when I walked over to the eye-wear counter, two other members eyed me suspiciously, silently letting me know they were waiting for a salesperson to help them. 

I didn't feel like waiting. I went looking for a few free food samples, but most contained chicken or beef, which I no longer eat.

Then, I strolled over to a refrigerated room, picked up a pound of organic baby spinach ($4.79) and went to the check-out counter.

My wife has been making our weekly food-shopping trip to the warehouse store in the last couple of months. 

I may keep it that way until a bigger Costco opens or remember to go to the Hackensack store only on Mondays to Thursdays.

No Costco wine in Teterboro

A new, bigger Costco is expected to open in Teterboro in the fall -- adding six miles to my round trip, compared to the Hackensack location.

But from what Hackensack employees say, the new store may not be such a big improvement.

Costco didn't buy a state liquor license for the Teterboro store, meaning members won't be able to take advantage of Kirkland Signature's good values in wines, such as a delicious California Cabernet Sauvignon and a "Superiore" Prosecco from Italy.

So, the closest Costco with Kirkland Signature wines remains the new store at the Willowbrook Shopping Center in Wayne, a 21-mile round trip.

The new Teterboro Costco will have a gas station for my wife's miserly hybrid, but I've heard the waits can be so long many members don't bother. 

And I won't have any use for it when I drive there in my all-electric car.

The tire store in Teterboro is expected to be larger, but I don't know whether members can have their wheels aligned after they buy new rubber.

In Hackensack, buying new tires at Costco means low prices, but you have to go to another shop for an alignment.

Costco offers extra-cost installation services, but you will have to take your new large-screen TV home by yourself.

Last week, my wife brought home a 20-pound bag of Deer-brand basmati rice from India that comes in a sealed bag tucked inside a zippered burlap one ($19.79). Consumer Reports says basmati varieties contain less arsenic than other types of rice, even those grown in California.

Kirkland Signature is Costco's house brand for premium products, but here the label is applied to artificially colored farmed salmon from Chile, with no information on whether the fish are raised on harmful antibiotics and other additives. Costco also sells canned wild pink salmon, a better choice.

We loved a new item, Kirkland Signature Greek Yogurt Fruit on the Bottom, but the second time we purchased it, the yogurt was much too thick and unpleasant to eat. We used the remaining cups to make smoothies with frozen strawberries, fresh bananas and juice.

Reds under $6.50 at Total Wine

An advertising flier for Total Wine & More in River Edge listed a 750-milliliter bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from California for $2.67.

So, I stopped there on Saturday and embarked on a search for that bottle and other inexpensive reds.

Red wines under $6.50 are scattered throughout the large store, making you work for the bargains. 

I picked up two bottles of Pacific Peak Cabernet ($2.67 each), a bottle of Double Dog Dare Cabernet ($4.49), Canyon Oaks Cabernet ($4.99), Mendoza Station Malbec from Argentina ($5.99) and Oak Grove Merlot Reserve ($6.49).

If you buy six bottle of wine with prices ending in "9," the store gives you a 10% discount on all of them.

Total Wine & More, 135 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge; 201-968-1777.

Ackee and callaloo

A Jamaican fruit called ackee and a green called callaloo are essential when preparing Jamaican food at home.

Ackee goes into the national dish, Ackee and Salt Fish, which uses the bland fruit as a foil for hot peppers and salted cod.

Callaloo is a spinach-like green that can be served as a side dish with or without diced sweet peppers.

On Friday, at ShopRite in Rochelle Park, my wife picked up a two dozen 19-ounce cans of Grace-brand Ackees in Salt Water for $7.49 each.

At Hackensack Market on Passaic Street, a 19-ounce can of ackee was $10.99.

A 19-ounce can of Grace-brand Callaloo, chopped, was $2.29 a can. She purchased 19 of them.

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