Monthly Archives: October 2019

A visit to Costco France…was it worth the almost 4 hour drive?

School vacations in France.  A time to unplug and get out of town for a few days before jumping back into school and work with both feet!  We had only been in France for about 5 weeks so we weren’t ready for an epic trip and we were missing some American staples (Mexican food, bagels, …) so why not take a trip to Paris and explore the American food scene there?

The day before our trip, the fine folks at the SNCF (French Rail) decided to strike so our planned train trip became a car trip.  A bit of a bummer BUT, we could use that as a reason to visit the American amusement park just outside of Paris known for its special brand and ability to bring people in from all around every weekend.  That’s right, we were heading to Costco!

Ahhh…a slice of America in view!

We were at the Greenville, SC Costco at least every 2 weeks to buy milk, Nesquik, giant bags of chips, and gas.  Since the trip to Costco France was long and we were still waiting on our container (and our Yeti), there were some things we couldn’t easily buy (looking at you refrigerated items…).  However, we were excited to check out the store and see if it was worth a return trip once we were in our permanent apartment.

As soon as we pulled around the traffic circle and saw the enormous building, it was clear that we were ‘home’.  Work was underway to put in a gas station but no timeline was available. 

After parking (in the massive, American sized, parking lot) we got a cart.  Not just any old European cart that takes a Euro to get it and you can’t steer worth crap.  No, a real cart with back wheels that only move in a straight line!  Yes!

One important difference to note before we got inside. Our dear Costco on Woodruff Road took about 10 minutes and cost us less than 50 cents in gas to visit (not including the membership fee – a gift from Michelin). The Costco in France…

  • ~75 Euros in gas
  • 75.60 EUR in tolls
  • 3h 45 min in the car
  • …and that was before we bought a thing!

Thanks to our friends at the SNCF, those were sunk costs for us but still, something to consider before making a visit.

Do you hear the angels singing?

A few of the ‘Costco standards’ that we saw throughout the store:

  • Person at the front door in a red vest with a clicker to track the number of guests
  • Bunch o’ deals and TVs just after the front door
  • Samples!
  • Massive quantities of chocolate chips, toilet paper, and real American peanut butter
  • Cash registers galore

There were certainly some things that we were hoping to find that we couldn’t – Log Cabin syrup (but they did have 100% maple syrup), Kind and/or Lara bars and skim milk are a few examples.  That being said, we were pretty excited with lots of the things we DID find!

Christmas decorations? They’ve got you covered
  • Boxed Mac and Cheese (not Kraft but still…)
  • Bacon (we’re coming back for you)
  • Mozzarella sticks (coming back for you too…)
  • Brownie Mixes
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Pancake Mix

After the shopping was over, it was time for a visit to the food court for some real, honest to goodness Costco pizza!  They had Pepsi (just like in the US) but they continued the French tradition of ensuring you don’t drink too much sugar by limiting you to one serving of Pepsi.  Come on French government, if you’re going to allow people to smoke everywhere like chimneys, let the rest of us drink as much Coke as we want!

As we were walking out, there was a standard display of Michelin tires greeting you followed by the classic Costco receipt checker (unfortunately, our kids are too old to solicit the smiley faces any more).  After loading up the car, it was time to head home but fear not outpost of amazing, American sized stuff in the middle of France, we’ll be back!

Is it raining cats and dogs? No, that’s a storm of change and it’s heading your way!

Our family recently relocated from the US to France and has been experiencing A LOT of change!

  • Live out of suitcases for 58 days and counting? Check.
  • Two first days of school in two different countries? Check.
  • 10 different cars in 4 months? Check.

In the middle of all of this change, I read this interesting article on our bandwidth to handle change and was shocked by these two sentences:

photo credit: pixabay

“Consider a leading global wealth manager whose employees, we recently found, had to deal with approximately 250 changes per year. These included operating model changes; new leadership structures; new productivity procedures in areas such as travel booking, digitized financial planning, and HR; new enterprise resource systems; agile ways of working such as sprints; and new legal and risk requirements and compliance procedures.

Holy smokes, 250 changes per year!  I bet that’s true for most of us.  Just take a minute to think about it… benefits changes, staffing changes, position responsibility changes, organizational changes IT systems, physical moves, etc.  The article doesn’t clearly state this but I would guess their research doesn’t account for changes outside of work like kids moving grades, aging parents, new neighbors, etc.

I know it’s true that I fail to account for the ‘other’ changes going on when I am pushing ‘my’ change effort. With this newfound understanding, I want to start thinking about capacity for change like a bucket of water. When the bucket is full, it doesn’t matter how much effort we put into a great communication plan or training module, there’s just no room!

How full is your bucket? What about the bucket of the people you are working with?