WOODINVILLE — A lone white Costco shopping cart with a cult following had an out-of-control feeling last week.
The color of the cart led to its fame and almost its demise.
What’s up with that?
The cart, a white unicorn in the herd of slate gray metal workhorses, was called Blanco for four years.
Yes, you read that right. The basket has a name. And people call him by his name. It even had a worker name tag, until people kept stealing it as a souvenir.
Push it around the store and you get a dozen people saying “Hi, Blanco” or “Lucky you got Blanco”.
You are no longer just another ordinary shopper when seen with the beloved Blanco.
Turns out not everyone liked Blanco.
The white carriage had to be decommissioned over the weekend under a cloud of mystery and controversy.
The reason: “It’s classified,” said a cashier.
Word in the aisles was that someone might be offended by the name. Blanco means white in Spanish.
“Yeah. That’s the main thing,” said an employee who did not want to be identified.
Costco headquarters did not respond to a request for comment.
Social media exploded when news broke last week that Blanco was being eliminated. A “Save Blanco” group has been created. Diehard fans threatened to picket the store on Sunday. Most expressed their sadness at the loss.
Anywhere in a shopping cart that’s so much more than just a shopping cart.
The story of the Mythic Cart begins when the store’s fleet of white carts were replaced with gray carts at Woodinville Country Costco #747. “Yet we dared to hang on, to resist the insurrection,” reads Blanco’s biography.
The white cart was discovered in a nearby ravine in 2017 and returned to service.
A worker named the cart Blanco and founded “The Legendary Costco Cart” Facebook page which has some 2,500 followers.
Blanco has become a part of Costco culture, with first-person Facebook posts about life inside the warehouse and traditions of the parking lot.
The day in the life of a caddy, told with wit and humour.
“Does this corral of carts make my butt look fat?” Blanco asks when his back is shown in the front row of carts.
“Give me your tired boxes, your poor containers, your huddled wavy masses yearning to be recycled, the wretched trash of your teeming shoreline,” reads the cart on a course of boxes.
Numerous photos show beaming shoppers taking Blanco for a spin as they stock up on Kirkland supplies. It eliminates the hassle of buying giant packets of toilet paper and paper towels.
“It’s silly, but it’s fun,” said Neil Enns, Costco regular, Seattle Storm team photographer and frequent contributor to the cart’s Facebook page. “It’s just a weird little thing.”
The cart, when Enns gets it, makes him feel “like a badass,” he said. “I have the best cart in the whole store.”
His wife made him a mini white carriage ornament for Christmas last year.
Blanco joined the mayor at the city’s summer parade to carry bottles of water to hand out while blasting Taylor Swift music. He was loaned out to charity events with Santa Claus, a food bank and an elementary school. At work, the cart was topped with a garland for the holidays.
Reviews have praised the cart for its service.
This skeptical journalist – trained in the maxim “If your mother says she loves you look at this” – had to see it for herself.
Prowling the grounds of Woodinville, a white cart was nowhere to be found in the huge corral of carts or the gray metal enclosures.
Hmmm, where was that Blanco?
“Someone took it,” said a carter.
My heart raced. I was 150,000 square feet away from finding Blanco. My husband caught a gray cart. “I’ll pretend I don’t know you,” he said. And he left.
My research focused on electronics, clothing, meat, toys, alcohol. Aisle after aisle, nothing but gray carts.
Blanco had to be somewhere…
Then, the white metal unicorn appeared in the distance. At the end of a frozen food aisle, a tall man stood by the cart, pondering the goods behind glass.
He had already piled a dozen items into the white cart when I approached him. He knew the legend of Blanco and was sympathetic to my mission.
“Do you want to trade carts?” he asked, reading my thoughts.
It was my lucky day.
For the next 20 minutes, Blanco led the way as I loaded its sturdy frame with boxes of wine, coffee, dried mangoes and crates of “limit 2” water.
Blanco didn’t magically conjure up toilet paper and paper towels, but it did get me noticed. Blanco fans were everywhere. I felt special. Or as Enns put it, “badass.”
Heck, I was ready to join the uprising to guard the chariot with such magical powers.
Fate intervened, or maybe it was buyer pressure: the cart got a last-minute reprieve.
On Saturday, Blanco received a new name: Dash.
A new twist has been put on its backstory to try and explain the name change to make it a happily ever after tale the world needs more of.
Dash also received a name tag.
The Facebook page has been changed to “Dash The Legendary Costco Cart”.
Carts are the unsung heroes of the food on our table.
Yet they are taken for granted. Thrust against curbs. Slammed into rows. Abandoned on the road. Or, like everyone’s favorite white cart, thrown into a ravine.
Blanco has never been named “Employee of the Month”.
Maybe Dash will.