Tuesday, March 29, 2005 · posted at 9:04 PM
The past is a foreign country. So as much as I love the red and white bulls eye symbol of Target, I was not always a Target girl. Before there was Target, after there was Gemco, there was FEDCO... and it was great.

Fedco was your neighborhood superstore. And by super, what I really mean is SUPER. Not only did it have your movies, clothes, toilet paper, toothpaste and over the counter medications, it also had a grocery store, optometry section, electronic booth, and knives counter (though I never actually saw anyone purchase anything from there, which was reassuring as an 11 year-old).

So for those of you lucky enough to grow up with Fedco (this may be just So Cal people), you may be fighting back tears right now. Fedco was a big thing. My best friend from elementary school even designated Thursday as "Fedco Night" - forsaking episodes of Friends and My So-Called Life to go errand-running each week. Often you'd run into friends and people you knew at Fedco - it was such the social scene.

My family went crazy at Fedco. I'm talking like walking out of there with 3-4 carts each time (if you do your math, that's one cart/family member, yours truly included. Imagine being 9 years old and steering a shopping cart you can't see over. Suffice it to say, my siblings and my mom have scar tissue covering the backs of their ankles from me always running into them).

Who needed Legos and spatial puzzles when you could practice your problem-solving skills trying to figure out how to fit the laundry detergent into/onto the cart without (1) disrupting the mountain of books, hair products, and paper towels or (2) contaminating the chicken, carrots and lettuce by placing within a 6-inch radius of the groceries?

Fedco also had an "every minor must be accompanied by an adult" rule that largely went ignored by its patrons and its employees. Still, I revelled in running around the store chaperone-less - afraid of getting caught, but feeling like I was doing something very rebellious. Couple that with slipping the "no you can't have that" items onto the conveyor belt behind Kleenex boxes and under towels at the check-out stand and you had one bad-ass 7th grader.

Additionally, Fedco was the wise sage - teaching us many lessons, both good and bad. I remember growing up thinking that two or three hundred dollars was nothing. It was just a Fedco trip. I also remember my sister would peruse the receipt sometimes to find the single item that cost the most. Once, to both our horrors, it was prophylactics.

But the best part of Fedco? No trip to Fedco was complete without a trip to the food court for pizza and cherry ICEEs (or the tongue staining blue raspberry flavor depending on your post-Fedco social plans). Later, Fedco would add a Panda Express. And later still, Fedco would close its doors for the final time to make way for Target Greatland.

And while now I can get my toothpaste and facewash and Velveeta cheese and shells (plus fun Michael Graves wares) from one friendly neighborhood stop shop, I still get misty when I find an old Fedco pricetag. I also get disgusted because that means the toothpaste, facewash or Velveeta cheese and shells is 6+ years old...

Sigh. Getting nachos and cheese (or just nachos, since the Greatland is always out of the processed cheese in a bag), just isn't the same, and Pizza Hut just doesn't cut it.

R.I.P. Fedco... R.I.P.

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