Parking at Costco – I have a solution

I just got back from Costco. It is surrounded by acres of free parking. When I arrived I drove to a far corner of the lot, parked in one of the 100 available spaces, and took a three minute (by my watch) stroll to the store. While I was walking, I noted at least 50 cars slowly patrolling the aisles, following folks with baskets to their cars, and then blocking the aisle while the shoppers unloaded so they could get a spot ‘close in’.

I grabbed my basket, filled it with the requisite amount of ‘stuff’ to cover the shelves in my garage, and headed to the check out line. It did seem like there were a lot of people there for 9:30 on Sunday morning, but I merely selected a line and waited. I checked my watch again. Total time in line – 7 minutes, 30 seconds.

The woman in front of me was complaining to the clerk about the number of people at Costco, the maddening parking, and of course the long checkout lines. I commented that her stay in line was less than 8 minutes. She was stunned. She was sure she stood there for half an hour.

When I got back to the car and drove out of the lot, I checked my watch again. Total time at Costco, including filling the car with gas, 40 minutes, soup to nuts.

The key to a quick turn around started with the parking. I’m sure there are times when the lot is full, although I have never experienced it. The woman’s comment reminded me of the Wall Street Journal reporter who called me and complained that there was no parking in a certain upscale shopping area of LA that I knew well.  I was surprised as I knew there was parking behind most every store on every block. He told me that you had to pay for that parking, and he was looking for free parking.

The woman at Costco wasn’t looking for parking, she was looking for parking close to the door.

I have a solution. Why not charge for parking based on the distance from the entrance. For those that want to park close up, charge them $20. Have someone walking around a certain area with some tickets and a pocket full of change and if someone wants to pay the fee, let them.

As an aside, how wonderful it was to see all those people spending money. I was thinking about all the jobs they were creating, all the people who were leaving welfare rolls, and what such mercantile activity means to everyone across the fruited plain.


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