Costco Is Making a Change to Its Free Samples — Here’s What You Need to Know

published Aug 22, 2023
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Credit: Alastair Wallace

True Costco stans like myself love the bulk store for many reasons — the deals you can get on little luxuries, the seasonal goodies that return each year and have dedicated followings (like these mini carrot cakes), and, of course, their free samples.

The free samples at Costco are kind of legendary, and there are a bunch of things about them that you might not be aware of. For instance, did you know that there is no official limit to the amount of samples you can try? Or that diehard Costco sample fans recommend going on Mondays or Tuesdays to avoid the weekend crowds? For the latter, however, did you know that if you must go on a Saturday, your arrival should be around 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., when all sample servers are usually out? If not, there are still plenty of things for you to learn about Costco — and that’s why we’re here for you.

Speaking of those sample servers, they’re often a big part of the experience themselves. Known to be smiling, samples in hand, they can really brighten your shopping trip. I mean, who doesn’t want a smile and a nod from a kind person handing out tasty treats? 

If the servers are a highlight of your weekly visit to the warehouse, then your local Costco may be missing your favorite part of the visit soon. Instagram account @costcodeals spotted a new version of a sample server at a Washington State Costco recently: a sample kiosk, no human to be found — loaded up with snacks. 

According to their post, they were told this was a result of staffing issues, but does it suggest a shift away from human sample servers in Costcos across the country? Are we going to end up with Costco robot servers soon, similar to how many fast food restaurants are on the path to operating? This may be the first sign pointing to yes.

I am sympathetic to the staffing issues plaguing employers everywhere, but I for one enjoy those little interactions with the Costco sample servers. Grabbing a snack from a hopper in a kiosk might be convenient, but it definitely takes some of the joy out of what makes Costco, Costco.

While the new sample kiosks operate off of the honor system expecting customers to take just one, if you’re looking for something to actually stock up on while shopping this week, the warehouse’s massive new peanut butter chocolate pie is one you’ll want to keep handy at all times.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Costco May Be Changing the Way You Experience Free Samples Soon