Chicago Sun-Times

Food sam­ples re­turn to the aisles of Costco

- BY KELLY TYKO Costco Wholesale · United States of America · Facebook · Tinie Tempah

Costco has started to bring back its leg­endary free sam­ples to some clubs, but it’s no longer the free food smor­gas­bord it once was.

Sam­ples are now pack­aged items and kept be­hind plex­i­glass shields, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg, which re­ported last week that sam­pling has re­turned to as many as 30 Costco lo­ca­tions.

The re­tailer sus­pended its pop­u­lar sam­ples in its whole­sale clubs in early March amid the spread of the coro­n­avirus. It was one of the first pro­grams to be cut as the threat of COVID-19 grew.

Club Demon­stra­tion Ser­vices, a ven­dor that has han­dled sam­pling for Costco for years, says on its web­site that clubs in 16 uniden­ti­fied states are in the first phase of the re­turn, which be­gan June 16.

“Start­ing slowly will al­low Costco and us to make sure we are tak­ing the right steps to en­gage mem­bers safely, while main­tain­ing the proper con­trols around the demo cart,” Don Do­hanyos, the com­pany’s pres­i­dent, said in a June 4 post. “We will take the lessons learned in our early demos to im­prove our over­all pro­cesses while we pre­pare for fu­ture roll­outs.”

Costco of­fi­cials did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on the sam­pling and which clubs have added sam­ples back.

Dur­ing Costco’s quar­terly earn­ings call in May, CFO Richard Galanti said the sam­ples would start rolling out in June.

“It’s not going to be where you go and just pick up an open sam­ple with your fin­gers,” Galanti said.

While sam­ples are com­ing back, Costco has stopped sell­ing its half sheet cakes at all U.S. clubs, the com­pany con­firmed, not­ing, “as of right now, we have no im­me­di­ate plans to bring back.”

“We are fo­cus­ing on our smaller 10-inch White and 10-inch Choco­late Cakes that seem to be res­onat­ing with our mem­bers,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

Costco an­nounced the change in late May in a Face­book post pro­mot­ing the round cakes.

Many begged Costco to re­con­sider the change and said the sheet cakes froze well.

“Please bring back the sheet cakes, even if just for pre­order. The round are not large enough for larger fam­i­lies,” one mem­ber wrote on Costco’s Face­book post. “Our gro­cery store cakes are good, but not Costco good.”

 ?? TIM BOYLE/GETTY IMAGES ?? Easy ac­cess to un­wrapped food (demon­strated here in 2002 at the store in Niles) will no longer be part of Costco’s sam­pling pro­gram.
TIM BOYLE/GETTY IMAGES Easy ac­cess to un­wrapped food (demon­strated here in 2002 at the store in Niles) will no longer be part of Costco’s sam­pling pro­gram.

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