Costco showed us a "don't look at us too close" mentality which did not foster trust, even if they aren't up to anything. The Assistant Manager greeted us with, "There are some questions I can't answer!" He felt uncomfortable and I couldn't help but wonder what about his job is so secret?
He told us that Costco's priority is to give the customer the best quality at the lowest price. Many of us agreed that they accomplish that priority quite well!
Costco did not appear to take into consideration the ecological cost of anything, only the monetary one. It is up to the consumer to care about the ecological cost. The students and I decided that this responsibility would be much easier if products' labels showed their ecological cost, just as foods show their nutritional ingredients.
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We were greeted quite differently at the Co-op. If human happiness is part of the equation, we all agreed that working with the Co-op would be a nicer place to spend your time! We asked one worker if he would rather work at Costco because he could be paid $2.50 more there to start than what the Co-op pays. He just looked at us like we couldn't be serious. He had passion for his work and spoke directly to the students with no hint of fear of being asked something he wasn't supposed to disclose.
Mary of the Co-op disclosed absolutely anything the students asked of her and kept ready eye contact with them at all times.
Costco felt uncomfortable, but the Co-op emphasized that difference between a 'human-sized' environment, where the people make the decisions, and a gigantic company that will give you what it can, but don't ask it any details about how it gets it to you. Costco seemed to promote the use of product 'because it is inexpensive', while the Co-op promoted the use of the product because it is a resource to cherish. This gives the word 'use' two different definitions!