Monday, December 12, 2016

A Costco with no parking problems, no crowds, no waiting to check out

Costco Wholesale members who fight for a parking space, then fight the crowds inside the store, fantasize about shopping in a near-empty warehouse, such as the one shown above and below.

This warehouse even has a food court with 18-inch pizzas and all of the other Costco favorites you find elsewhere.

Editor's note: We prepare most of our meals at home, so I'm still waiting for the one food store in northern New Jersey that has organics and everything else at great prices. Meanwhile, I continue to make the rounds of my favorites, including Costco Wholesale, H Mart and ShopRite.


You died and went to Costco Wholesale shopping heaven in Hackensack, N.J.

That sums up the experience of walking into a Costco warehouse where you'll encounter only a handful of other customers and cashiers waiting to check out your purchases.

This warehouse closed in October 2015, when a bigger and far busier Costco, plus a gas station, opened in the Teterboro Landing Shopping Center off of busy Route 46.

Five months later, a renovated Hackensack warehouse opened as a Costco Business Center, where the focus is on such small businesses as restaurants and caterers, and delivers their orders.

That's why the parking lot and the store are such a pleasure.

The old food court also was renovated, but you won't find a pharmacy, optical services, photo department, tires, clothing or a separate store with wine.

True. The selection is limited. 

But you can pick up produce, eggs, milk, bread, water, snack bars, candy and many other items stocked by a regular Costco Wholesale.

Instead of fighting the crowds at the Teterboro Costco on Saturday afternoon, I dashed out to the Hackensack warehouse for:

One of the best salads in the world, Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix ($4.79 for a 1-pound package); incomparable Campari Tomatoes ($5.49 for 2 pounds), 6 pounds of large Bosc Pears ($6.99), 2.5 pounds of Starbucks French Roast Coffee Beans ($15.49 with an instant coupon), and KIND snack bars ($18.99).

The Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack carries hothouse-grown Campari Tomatoes from both Canada and Mexico. They prove winter tomatoes don't have to be watery or mealy or both. For a real treat, pop one whole into you mouth and bite into it.

The Business Center also carries 22-ounce jars of Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto, a refrigerated product. Here, I dressed organic whole wheat pasta with pesto and organic pine nuts, and washed them down with a glass of Kirkland Signature Malbec, a red wine from Argentina.

After my pasta, I enjoyed a salad of triple-washed Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, including peppery arugula, dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The Costco Wholesale Business Center at 80 S. River St. in Hackensack is open until 6 p.m. on weekdays, 4 p.m. on Saturdays and closes on Sundays. It's also closer to my home than the new Teterboro warehouse.

Although the H Mart supermarket in Little Ferry is as shabby as ever, managers have added dividers in the fresh fish case, as well as new signs, above and below. On Sunday, the store had no heat, so a free sample of hot noodle soup with fish cakes was greatly appreciated.

An employee acknowledged the new signs are missing a required piece of information -- whether the fish is wild or farmed -- and said the store will be remedying that. I bought three whole wild-caught red snappers for pan frying at home, and munched on free seafood samples at a nearby counter while my fish was cleaned.

I also bought Organic Brown Shimeji Mushrooms.

At the Little Ferry H Mart, the price of a 5-pound box of Spanish Clementines has fluctuated -- from $7.99 on Nov. 6 to $3.99 on Dec. 4, above, and to $5.99 on Sunday.
At the ShopRite in Paramus this afternoon, 1-liter bottles of Alonia-brand Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain were only $3.99 each, an unusually low price for an EVOO that isn't a blend from several countries. I bought three bottles with a best-by date of January 2019 for dressing salads, adding to pasta sauces and eating with bread. 

The ShopRite in Paramus, at 224 Route 4 east, also is accessible from Forest Avenue.

Amid the widely publicized adulteration of some extra-virgin olive oils in Italy, the price of this heart-healthy oil has risen dramatically, and producers have been shrinking the traditional 1-liter bottle and 3-liter tin, and selling what are called Mediterranean blends of EVOOs from several countries, including Greece, Spain, Tunisia and Portugal. Above, Colavita "100% Certified Italian" Extra-Virgin Olive was $14.99 for less than a full liter at the Paramus ShopRite.

A blend of extra-virgin olive oils was $7.99 for a half-liter bottle. A full liter is 33.8 ounces.

ShopRite says it imports extra-virgin olive oil made from Italian-grown olives. Here, a 1-liter bottle was $8.99, but I've seen it on sale for $6.99.

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