You're Breaking Costco Sample Etiquette By Being Too Nice

Costco, the beloved American warehouse retailer, is known for some pretty fantastic sample stations, offering shoppers a treasure hunt of indulgences in an assortment of delectable treats while they peruse the store and add necessities to their carts. Growing up going to Costco on sample days meant free snacks and perhaps the pastime of trying to sneakily repeat samples without getting caught. For those doing the shopping, it's a little more complicated. There exists an unspoken rule of sample etiquette that some shoppers unwittingly break: being too nice.

When faced with an array of samples, many feel compelled to reciprocate the generosity by accepting the full-sized product they just tasted and adding it to their cart. This compulsion may arise from a sense of obligation or a desire to avoid appearing rude. However, according to Costco employees, this behavior is unnecessary, can lead to wastefulness, and can contribute to unnecessary and extraneous work for employees. 

Costco sample station etiquette

Accustomed to slow periods during shifts, sample servers often consequently welcome members by approaching them and engaging in conversation. Some shoppers mistakenly interpret this as an opportunity to take more samples or spend excessive time chatting, leading to wasted samples, especially if there's a lack of intention to buy the full-sized product. But that isn't actually the issue, shockingly.

The primary issue arises when individuals feel self-conscious about taking too many samples or conversing for too long. To save face, they end up grabbing products they have no intention of purchasing, only to abandon them in inappropriate locations throughout the store. This not only creates unnecessary clutter but also results in wasted resources and additional work for Costco employees. 

So, what is the appropriate approach to navigating the sample stations at Costco? There's an all-too-simple solution: Be genuine. Shoppers should avoid taking things they have no actual intention of buying.

Be courteous, but genuine

If you take a sample or two and don't intend to buy anything, there's no need to feign interest or pretend to make a purchase. A sincere "thank you" to the sample provider and a polite move to the next station is all that is required. By adhering to this straightforward etiquette, shoppers can enjoy their samples guilt-free while respecting the employees' time and effort. Costco's sample stations are designed to enhance the shopping experience and brand sales, not create unnecessary pressure on customers to purchase — or clutter sections of the store with products that belong elsewhere. So, the next time you find yourself faced with a tempting sample, remember to be kind and courteous, but don't feel obligated to buy anything if you're not interested — simply savor the flavors and continue your shopping journey. 

Being too "nice" and disingenuously adding products to your cart only to abandon them somewhere else in-store can lead to unintended consequences, from wastefulness if products spoil to unnecessary labor to replace the misplaced item (and fix erroneous inventory tallies). By adopting a courteous yet honest approach, customers can enjoy Costco's sample culture without feeling obligated to make unnecessary purchases. Time to embrace the spirits of gratitude, authenticity, and respect while enjoying the agreeably awesome offerings of Costco's sample stations.