There are a lot of reasons to love shopping at Costco — the prices, the breadth of products, the cheap food court — but the Costco samples are definitely at the top of the list. Who doesn’t love free, delicious food? Not only is it a great mid-shop snack, but it gives you the opportunity to try items before you buy in bulk.
Of course, the samples come with their problems, too — congested aisles, long lines, and poor etiquette. One Costco sampler recently took to the r/Costco subreddit to offer up some do’s and don’ts when checking out the Costco samples — and fellow workers and shoppers joined in.
To make the most of your Costco shopping trip, these are the guidelines to go by.
Don’t hang around waiting for Costco samples
In the main post, Redditor peculiar_pandabear highlighted that waiting for samples just causes congestion. “If a sampler tells you that the sample will be ready in x amount of time, please just circle back around when you can instead of waiting by the stands,” they said.
Not only does this make shopping easier for others, but it gives the samplers time to prepare the food correctly. “We have rules on when and how to prepare and serve food and we need to follow these,” they said.
Redditor psychpopnprogncore added, “I also do samples at Costco and I can’t tell you how annoying it is when someone stands there and watches me cook after I’ve told them it will be 5 or 10 minutes.” People often try to take samples before they’re ready and psychpopnprogncore said, “It’s not done and I’m not [going to] lose my job [because you’re] hungry.”
Respect the sneeze shields
They’re there for a reason. Peculiar_pandabear noted, “Please avoid touching items behind our sneeze shields. Our carts are very small and we need to utilize the space we do have, meaning sometimes we’ll have our product on our carts. Our carts must be kept sanitary, and unfortunately, touching anything behind our sneeze guards means we have to drop everything and resanitize.”
They added that this includes when samples are on red trays — you should grab them through the sneeze shield and not reach around them to avoid causing the entire batch of samples to get thrown away due to contamination.
Psychpopnprogncore agreed. I’ve had to throw out an entire package of goat cheese because someone reached from behind and dragged their sleeve in it or someone grabs crackers out of the bowl and I have to throw them all away,” they said, noting that sample cups should be thrown out and not placed back on the serving tray. “I’m not going to reuse it.”
Don’t be a jerk to the person giving you free food
Peculiar_pandabear explained that the Costco samplers have daily sales quotas, and while you don’t need to listen to an entire sales spiel, acknowledging the person giving you the Costco samples isn’t that hard.
“I totally understand not wanting to listen to the whole pitch and I don’t necessarily fault anyone for it. What I mean is at least say hello and greet us instead of just zooming by grabbing a sample without evening knowing what it is,” they said, adding that this is super important if you have allergies.
“I’ve had many, many customers grab samples before even knowing what it is, which results in a perfectly good sample being thrown away, or, in worse cases, allergic reactions,” they explained. “I’ve had [five] customers eat something without listening to what it is, and then have an allergic reaction and blame it on me.”
Redditor txtw noted that the sales pitch can be useful: “I think sometimes it’s worth it to have a little pitch. For example, I sampled a burger last weekend but I didn’t realize they came pre-cooked with a bun; I thought they were just frozen burgers in a sleeve. A one-sentence pitch to highlight the product is fine.
Don’t be a jerk to other customers
Redditor Ryan_503 chimed in with this bit of advice: “Grab your sample and get out of the way!”
Others agreed, pointing out that abandoning carts in the aisle to grab free Costco samples causes frustration for everyone else around.
Mind your kids when getting Costco samples
Redditor Nickster125, a former Costco sampler, noted that parents should make sure kids aren’t too close to the cart until the sample tray is ready. “There have been many occasions when I was slicing products with a very sharp knife and I had to pull back or risk slicing and dicing little fingers,” they said.
Redditor boburuncle added that it’s helpful when parents make sure their kids know an adult should be with them when they get samples to confirm for the sampler that the child doesn’t have any allergies. “They do this in the Costco I shop [in] and I totally get it,” they said.
Only sample what you might actually buy
One thing everyone agreed on? It’s totally fine to sample products you’re unsure about, but if you know you’ll dislike it, there’s no point. (This is part of why checking out the product or the quick sales pitch is sometimes important.)
Redditor ktappe noted, “I don’t understand people who make sure to go to every sample stand. Free gross stuff is still gross. Don’t take it.”
Cropguru357 added, “I don’t agree with folks just eating samples without interest in buying, either… Maybe that’s just me. Samples are meant to be something I might be into.”
Costco samples are a fun, tasty part of our weekly shopping trips, but we won’t deny it can be frustrating when sample crowds make it difficult to navigate the store. Bottom line: Be kind to others, be considerate of their time and the work the samplers are doing, and you can enjoy a delicious sample or two. There will probably still be jerks, but better to judge them while you’re grabbing your samples, Just Bare chicken nuggets and maple syrup than be one.
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