The Surprising Reason This Shanghai Costco Is So Popular

Those of us who make it a point to drop by Costco on a regular basis do it because we are fans of their Kirkland Signature private labels; that, or we just can't stay away from the warehouse store's edible offers, which include $1 hot dogs, pizza, and rotisserie chicken. But China's social media influencers have found a new reason to make their way to Shanghai's Costco. It has nothing to do with discount and bulk buying, and everything to do with taking imaginary tours beyond their borders.

Because the pandemic made international travel impossible, many influencers haven't been able to go too far from home. As a result, Quartz reports they've been heading over to places that bear more than a passing resemblance to overseas haunts — Costco being one of them. There are snaps of influencers riding in shopping carts, hanging out on a grassy patch with the Costco logo in the background, or even posing with cups of Coke, all because they're #pretendingtobeinLA (via Twitter).

Trendy in China

The influencers, many of whom post on a Chinese lifestyle app called Xiaohongshu, don't appear to be trying to trick their followers into thinking they are someplace else. Instead, CNN notes, it seems to be about making their posts look more interesting. 

"Costco is really great, the pictures taken there really have the vibe of being in LA! If you babes also want to take such pictures I suggest you arrive here at around 4pm, when the light is good...and remember to wear clothes with brighter colors!" one influencer raved. Another reportedly said "If you cover the car plates [it] looks exactly like if you were in LA" (via Quartz). And its not just about #pretendingtobeinLA, because other hashtags have influencers #pretendingtobeinParis or #pretendingtobeinTokyo too.

Costco has always been a hit in China. It made headlines in 2019 when it opened its first store in Shanghai with a membership list more than 200,000 persons long. To describe opening day as "chaotic" would have been an understatement, as social media images and video uploads on Shanghaiist showed long lines, packed aisles, and fights breaking out over merchandise. Opening day proved to be so disruptive the store ended up closing after five hours, and the company was forced to issue an apology. The warehouse chain is scheduled to open its second store before the end of 2021 in another nearby city (via Yahoo).