I am Chinese. I love Costco. So does my family. So do all my Chinese friends. We love the idea of Costco, because it is part of the Chinese DNA to seek out bargains. There’s a fantastic New Yorker story from 2011 about Chinese tourists who go on an all-inclusive tour through Europe. The takeaway is that the trip isn’t about savoring the sights, but cramming in as many landmarks in one day as possible—and capturing photographic proof—because that is good value for your money.
This is the Chinese mindset, and this should offer some insight about the Chinese people’s mania for Costco. On some Saturdays at my suburban Chicago location, it’s like being transported to Hong Kong.
You can imagine, then, how wild it was at China’s first Costco, opened Tuesday just outside Shanghai. The blog Shanghaiist recaps the crazy first day, which featured three-hour waits just for a parking spot. Just look at this clip of eager customers slipping beneath the metal barriers, then jostling—like, on the verge of a fist fight!—for what appears to be raw chicken.
According to Quartz, the lines just to get in were half a kilometer long (a little more than a quarter-mile), and the Costco had to close by mid-afternoon. My big question left unanswered: Is there the equivalent of the $1.50 hot dog combo?!
I’m no business analyst, but speaking as a Chinese man I think Costco and China are going to get along just fine.