What Costco Samplers Wish Customers Knew



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Loading a Costco Sample
Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr

Costco Sampling Do’s and Don’ts

Love 'em or hate 'em, free samples are so central to Costco’s brand that their return in June 2021 after a pandemic hiatus was newsworthy. Some shoppers no doubt rejoiced. After all, who doesn’t love free food? But it turns out that some samplers (and shoppers) find the process a tad irksome, especially when customers misbehave. On the r/Costco subreddit, a Costco samplers have aired those grievances and reminded the public of some basic etiquette. The post has since blown up, with other samplers and customers weighing in. To ensure our readers don’t commit any egregious sampling faux pas, we’ve gathered five things that samplers wish customers knew.

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The crowd forms in anticipation for Costco samples
Mark Krynsky / Flickr

Don’t Wait For a Sample

Costco customers can be a bit like vultures. As soon as they see a station, they set up camp and wait for their prey — even if the samples aren’t ready yet. Don’t do this, samplers say. Waiting congests the aisles, and it’s stressful for the sampler. Instead, go back to shopping and circle back when the food is ready. 

Samples at Costco
Governor Jay Inslee / Flickr

Don’t Reach Behind the Sneeze Guard

Since samples returned, Costco has taken extra measures to keep things sanitary. The sneeze guard is one such addition that, as its name suggests, is meant to act as a barrier between ravenous, germy Costco shoppers and the food. So don’t reach behind the sneeze guard. One sampler explained that as soon as a customer reaches behind the guard, the employee has to drop everything and sanitize the cart.

Samples @ Costco
Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr

Do Take Samples from the Front of the Cart

Yes, maybe the cup in the back has a few more honey-roasted peanuts, but just take the sample closest to you on the red tray. Again, the problem is that touching items further back might mean the sampler has to throw out the tray because it’s contaminated. Plus, grabbing from the front ensures that tray rotations are easy. 

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Loading a Costco Sample
Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr

Do Listen to What Samplers Have to Say

Samplers have a daily sales quota, which means that flat-out ignoring their product spiel is pretty inconsiderate. “It can be a little bit disheartening when people don’t even listen to us (or) say hello and just snag a sample,” one Redditor writes. Out of all “grazing etiquette” tips, this was the most divisive on r/Costco. "If people wanted sales pitches," one reply noted, "Costco would just have you stand behind a podium and talk about your product. The sample is the sales pitch .."

Costco Kid Likes The Samples
Michael Newman / Flickr

Do Keep Kids Away From the Sample Cart

Sometimes preparing samples involves big, sharp knives and hot pans. So, just as you would do at home, keep the kiddos away while the samplers are chopping away. This goes for adults, too. Don’t reach for a sample before the employee is finished working. Otherwise, someone may lose a finger. 

Related: 10 Types of People Who Shouldn't Set Foot in Costco