Free samples are one of the many joys of shopping at Costco. Will there be makeshift charcuterie plates? Fried pickles in the freezer aisle? Or the holy grail: chicken pot pie? No matter what's available, you can always count on cheery sample workers to dole them out, or rightfully scold a rude elbow thrower or a gang of feral children.
Those helpful sample cart attendants might be going the way of the food court onion dispensers, though, at least if a video posted by @costcodeals on Instagram is any indication. They recently spotted a brand new free sample kiosk at a Costco store in Washington that's self serve — no sample worker or table in sight.
"Looks like they've turned to this due to staff shortages from what we are hearing!" they say in the video caption. Labor shortages have been a problem in all sorts of industries including retail, so it wouldn't be surprising if Costco, or the contractor it uses to run some of those sample carts, is having a difficult time finding enough employees to staff them.
by u/LeahsCheetoCrumbs from discussion New: Costco sample station
"I prefer getting samples from retirees tbh," said one Redditor in a thread about the kiosk on r/Costco, and others agreed. "As much as I couldn’t care less about samples and the crowds they attract, at least when people are doing it, it means someone’s getting paid," said another commenter. "I’d rather see someone with a job than not."
Other fans point out that Sam's Club, Costco's biggest rival, has had free sample vending machines for years already. You scan your card and see a commercial instead of a schpiel from the sample worker, and then it dispenses a wrapped sample. "This reeks of cheap ass Sam’s Club," said one plucky commenter.
Of course, there's also the biggest question about self-serve sample kiosks: Don't jerks get greedy and just take it all? Most people assume the kiosk would be empty within hours of opening, especially on the weekend. "They are very trusting," said u/MunWombat. It's the "Costco version of the Halloween 'take one' bowl," said u/planetaryBerry. "Watch and prepare to lose faith in humanity."
For more Costco and grocery news, please sign up for our free newsletters.