Tag Archives: Great Debate

#GreatDebate: Costco vs. Sam’s Club

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I’m one of those few — and slightly crazy — people who have membership at both Sam’s Club and Costco.

I’ve had my Costco card for years, back when I dated someone who could — and did — polish an entire 13-by-9-inch pan of cornbread in one sitting. (I literally had to hide food from him.)

And recently, I got added to an existing Sam’s Club account; meaning, it was free.

It’s interesting how similar — and surprisingly dissimilar — the two whole membership club retailers are.

Let’s start with price.

About three years ago, the website Cheapism, which finds and analyzes the best and cheapest consumer products and services, compared the two giants in 18 different categories ranging from gas to membership fees to health screenings.

It also looked at the price of 38 typical grocery items such as eggs, oatmeal and trash bags.

The verdict? Sam’s Club won the overall shopping competition, though Costco’s unit prices were slightly better.

And while price is important — hey, aren’t we shopping here to save a few cents? — it’s not the sole reason why people chose one over the other.

Sam’s, for example, takes more payment methods than Costco, which only accepts American Express, debit cards and personal checks. But Costco has the famous $1.50 hot dog and drink combo — something it introduced in 1985 at the same price.

And then there’s the parking situation, at least on Oahu.

I can’t even think about the parking lot at Costco’s Iwilei location without breaking out into a proverbial rash. (The Hawaii Kai store isn’t any easier. In fact, I’ve seen more yelling matches there than anywhere else, ever. And I lived in Chicago for a year!)

Sam’s Club, in my opinion, is slightly more sane, despite its location atop the stupidly stressful parking lot at Walmart on Keeaumoku Street. The stalls here seem wider, the crowd mellower. Overall, it’s a far less chaotic situation than at the two Costco stores in town.

People seem to have a strong loyalty to one or the other. It may be location — folks who live in Hawaii Kai may not see the point in trekking all the way to Keeaumoku Street to save a few bucks. Or it could be the products each offers.

Which do you prefer: Costco or Sam’s Club? Or do you hate them both equally?

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#GreatDebate: Who’s got the best fried chicken?

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The other day a few of us were talking about KFC, the fast-food chain that specialized in fried chicken.

We noticed that many of the local restaurants, operated by Kazi Foods, were closing, namely the ones on Kapiolani and Dillingham boulevards, on Kapahulu Avenue and in Niu Valley.

The conversation centered around the Kapahulu location. It closed a few months ago and, in its place, will be Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, KFC’s fiercest rival.

I was sad to see KFC good. I’m partial to Col. Sanders’ secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. But others in the group protested, saying Popeyes, which was founded in New Orleans in 1972, was superior in taste and quality.

It was interesting what a lively debate it started — and all over fried chicken!

I took this debate to others and found that a lot of my friends have very strong opinions about fried chicken. Some swear by Zippy’s popular version, others are passionate about the one served at Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering in Waipahu. Some still love the fried chicken plate served at Rainbow Drive-In — which, by the way, takes 15 minutes to prepare, so you should order ahead.

Fried chicken isn’t really a staple food here, but versions of it — like mochiko, garlic and katsu-style — certainly are. So maybe there is room in Hawaii for this debate.

So I’m throwing it out there: who’s got the best fried chicken in Hawaii (and elsewhere)?

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#GreatDebate: To tip or not to tip

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Last night I was writing a blog post for Startle.com about tipping etiquette on Oahu.

And it got me thinking about our tipping culture in general.

There’s really no difference in the way we tip in Hawaii versus anywhere else in the United States. But I know this is more of a cultural obligation. People who work in the service industry — and this is true for Hawaii — tend to get paid far less than other jobs, the idea being they will make it up in tips. Relying on tips to boost your income is supposed to mean you work harder for them. You’re nicer, you’re more courteous, you’re more helpful, you go the extra mile. That may translate to better tips — your reward for doing a stellar job.

Unless you’re from Japan.

In Japan, you don’t tip. (Though this may be changing a little.) You’ll get the kind of service they pride themselves in giving, and they don’t expect anything in return. If your check comes and you owe 2100 yen, that’s all you owe. You don’t have to try and figure out what 25 percent of 2100 yen is. Breathe.

And this made me think about tipping in general.

We tip for everything. The woman in the bathroom who’s handing you a paper towel. The kid selling newspapers at the intersection. The Sandwich Artist at Subway who leaves a tip jar at the register. All of these people expect tips.

In Japan, it doesn’t exist.

This results in two things: 1) No pressure from customers to tip and 2) no pressure on workers to earn those tips.

Personally, I don’t like tipping. I worked in industries that relied on it, and it didn’t necessarily change the way I served people. I did the best I could no matter what, and I didn’t factor tips into my take-home pay. Frankly, it was stressful and I would rather just earn my hourly wage than worry about tips, even if I could make 10 to 20 percent more.

On the flip side, I don’t like to judge service with tips. I just want to pay the bill — with the service included — and not worry about it.

So what do you think: is our tipping culture stressful or do you think it promotes better service? Let the debate begin!

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Great Debate: Should anonymous comments be banned?

angry_computer_guyOn yesterday’s “Today Show” the regular panel of professionals tackled a question that hits home for me.

The question: “Should anonymous comments on websites and blogs be banned?”

This is something we used to debate in the newsroom, when I worked at the now-defunct Honolulu Advertiser. We had just launched the ability for readers to post comments on stories online — and we realized very quickly how bold and brazen people were when they didn’t have to attach their real names to their comments.

In many cases, the comments weren’t fair. They were just mean and malicious and they really had no business being published. And yet there they were, unedited and unfiltered, and attached to real news stories that were held to a higher standard.

Frustrating.

At the same time, isn’t it the allure of the Internet to remain anonymous, to speak your mind without any fear or worry?

Here’s my take on this: If you’re going to say it, own it. Period.

I realize there are privacy issues. Like a woman who wants to share her experience being raped but doesn’t want to reveal her identity. I get that. But that’s an exception.

So I’m tossing it out there: Do you think anonymous comments should be banned?

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Great Debate: Artificial legs unfair advantage?

When South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius qualified for the London 2012 Olympics, this debate had already started.

The 25-year-old double amputee — known around the world as Blade Runner — finished an impressive 8th place in the men’s 400-meter semifinals earlier this week, finishing in a laudable 46.54 seconds. And critics are still wondering if allowing him to participate using Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs is opening the floodgates for technological aids for Olympic athletes.

But are these artificial legs really an unfair advantage?

His inclusion does clear the way for other amputee runners to compete on this world stage. And while it seems obvious to applaud and even champion such accomplishments, encouraging other amputees to chase this abled-body dream, I can understand the debate.

For starters, I think it’s absolutely absurd to think that this guy — whose lower legs were amputated as a baby after he was born without the fibula bones in his shins — has any unfair advantage. I don’t think he’s consider not having legs as an “advantage,” let alone an unfair one. It infuriates me to think that we can even criticize or accuse someone for doing something that’s already difficult for athletes with two good legs.

That said, the argument may not be about whether double amputees — or any disabled person — should be allowed to compete in the Olympics. (Of course they should!) It’s about the diabolical folks who will try to bend the rules to allow able-bodied athletes to use technology to gain an edge.

At least that’s what I think this debate is about.

Otherwise, I can’t say why anyone would ever think someone without two legs would have an unfair advantage. I wouldn’t trade my two working legs for blades, even pricey, Olympic-quality ones.

Maybe we have to stop thinking the worst of people — that Pistorius wants to cheat to win Olympic gold — and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe all he wants is to be a normal athlete. What’s the harm in that?

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