Costco Is About To Bring Back Its Pre-Pandemic Sampling Rules

Costco is bringing back samples! Costco is bringing back samples! But, um, now we know all about germs and crowds and... kinda eww? So, what's really up with Costco bringing back its pre-pandemic sampling? Here's what we know so far. 

According to frequent Costco customers, samples were spotted at some locations as long as 6 weeks ago (via Costco Deals Instagram). At this time, Costco also announced their limited reopenings of food courts — plans that were in place prior to the CDCs new guidance on masking and vaccination status (via CDC). As with many industries, this new guidance seems to have spurred many companies to get back to "normal" much quicker, and that includes Costco. Yet, like much of the United States, the rollout of new offerings won't necessarily be even across all locations.

According to Redditor tiffownsthis, "My Costco this week had sample stations set up but it was just an employee standing there with the boxed product sadly describing it to you as you walked past them," (via Reddit). Redditor jillanek shared, "We went last weekend (Apex, NC for reference) and they had samples but they were to take out of the store. Little chocolates in little white unmarked bags so no way to remember what you had sampled. Very odd. Nice car snack though."

Fortunately, we can provide some clarity on this uneven sample distribution.

Costco's samples should be fully available by July

Richard Galanti, chief financial officer and executive vice president at Costco explained that around 170 of Costco's approximately 550 locations will have full sampling back by the first week of June, while the remaining locations should be back to pre-pandemic sampling by the end of the month (via USA Today). For those wondering about those new contagion facts we now know, Galanti added, "Increased safety protocols are and will be in place, including all samples prepared behind plexiglass, prepared in smaller batches for better safety control and distribute it to members one at a time."

And while many of us are thrilled to have this favorite store activity back, others actually kinda liked it gone. Per Redditor Knotfornots, "I don't hate the Costco samples. I hate the rude, entitled people, forcing their way to get to free food part of Costco samples." Redditor happyatheist3 shared more health concerns, too: "Great. Awesome. Smart. Because 100% of everyone not wearing a mask in the building is 'fully vaccinated' and those with a mask will be taking them off to eat samples."

So, while it's likely many people have missed the old times, plenty of people have also enjoyed some of our new practices. Germs have not gone away, but now we are more aware and a year without crowds was a widely welcome change for shopping. Costco's samples are back, but perhaps we are not yet on our way to the old normal.