21 Secrets Costco’s Free Sample Employees Wish You Knew

Yes, we see you coming back for seconds.

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Cheese plate
Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

We know you come back more than once…

“I’ll have customers come up six times and ask me each time if I think [my sample] tastes good. Usually, around five or six, I’ll say, ‘You tell me!’” —a former Reddit user who worked as a Costco sample employee.  Check out these amazing Costco shopping perks that only members know about.

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Giving out cheese samples
Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

…and yes, it’s ok

“Feel free to take more than one sample, especially if you take the time to talk with us. As long as you don’t take an entire tray or take three when there’s a crowd, you’re more than welcome to take multiple samples. Our job is to give them out, so don’t feel bad for taking them.” —Reddit user rivanio, a former Costco free sample employee.

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Bakery aisle
Shutterstock / anystock

Don’t ask me where the bread is

“Costco rearranges their products almost daily. And the actual reason is because they want to provide a “treasure hunt atmosphere” to their members. This leaves them wandering around aimlessly, and before they know it, their cart is full and they don’t know how it got that way. This is a Costco marketing scheme we’ve all fallen victim to it.
“Because of this, we do know where the basic things are (milk, deli, chips, etc.), but they move everything else around as much as they can. This is why we’re usually clueless. Most actual Costco employees are clueless as well. They just send you in a direction with confidence. Whereas we’re honest with our cluelessness.” —Reddit user Number1dad, a former Costco free sample employee. Learn some more surprising secrets Costco employees aren’t telling you.

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Senior woman sitting outside on a wooden bench and rests.
Shutterstock / encierro

Working with all elderly people can be great

“I was one of the first younger people to get hired on at my store, so… I did [feel young] with all the elderly workers, but most of them were super cool! It was like I had 15 grandmas looking after me. I still go back and visit them regularly.” —Reddit user ROBaddict, who worked as a Costco free sample employee for two years.

“I’m 20. The majority of my coworkers are 60-plus-year-old women. And they’re all golden girls. Love ’em.” —Number1dad

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Glass of milk

We know some of the samples are gross

“I had Lactose Free milk, which was awful, and no one tried it. Also, Purple Carrot baby food.. .no one will try either of them.” former Reddit user.  Check out some amazing things you can get at Costco.

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Costco shopping cart
Shutterstock / Michael Gordon

Pressuring you to buy stuff makes us uncomfortable, too

“We have to [do that]. And if we seem forceful, a manager is nearby and watching us. We hate that part of the job.”—Number1dad

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Bakery sample

We’re never fully out of salesperson mode

“I’ve had a friend mention cinnamon bread… that I’ve sampled, and it sort of triggered something in my head and I accidentally starting talking to them as if they [were] a customer.” former Reddit user

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Handing over cash
Shutterstock / Sergey Mironov

We don’t make more money if you sample more

“We could literally sell every unit Costco has of a product and we wouldn’t see a dime more. We get a pretty good hourly wage though… If we personally sell over the warehouse goal on average throughout a pay period (two weeks), we get scheduled more. If our warehouse (the sample team) collectively is above the warehouse goal, our supervisor gets a bonus. We do not get any monetary commission for doing well.” —rivanio. Here’s the truth about how much Costco employees get paid.

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fresh cheese tastings with toothpicks in the cheese shop over the cutting board
Shutterstock / ChiccoDodiFC

Yes, we do eat them

“Oh of course [I eat them], but only when I’m on my break. At my store, you can be fired for eating a sample while you’re working.” former Reddit user

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Chef cutting block of cheese

And we sneak stuff home!

“Could I [take home leftovers]? Not technically. Could I give my brother that was walking by a large portion of my extra product? Yes.” ROBaddict.   These are the items you can buy at Costco, even if you don’t have a membership.

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Handing out sauce and roll
Shutterstock / arazu

We wish you wouldn’t dine and dash

“We are obligated to try to sell our samples to you, not just give them out for free. If you’re going to take a sample, and especially if you take two, just humor us and listen to our little speech.  [And] there’s nothing nicer you can do than say ‘thank you.’ You’d be surprised how many people just waddle over to us, shove things in their mouth and stumble away. We thrive on the rare times people treat us like human beings and not vending machines.” rivanio

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Employee handing out free samples
Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

We very rarely sell out of product

“Selling out means that there are zero left in the store. Sometimes the display next to me would run out and I’d get super excited but then a worker comes with a whole new pallet of product. I’d only seen two people completely sell out by the time I left.” Reddit user CostcoSampleGirl, who spent eight months as a Costco free sample employee.

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a Costco employee cooks chicken at Costco in Mountain View, Calif.
Paul Sakuma/Shutterstock

Standing for hours on end gets rough

“[We have to stand for] six hours. We get a fifteen-minute break and a half-hour [lunch]. It’s uncomfortable. Your knees sometimes swell. We get stiff mats to stand on. We can’t walk anywhere out of our twelve-foot space. I appreciate sitting.” Number1dad.   Here are the surprising secrets one former Costco employee learned while working there.

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Shopper with two loads of Christmas items at Costco in Mountain View, Calif
Shutterstock / Paul Sakuma/AP

It’s a good seasonal job…

“If you need extra money, it’s a good place to work on the side if you can manage it.”—ROBaddict

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Filling out job application
Shutterstock / Mangostar

…that’s not too difficult to get

“My advice to someone applying for the job? Know how to sell. You’re not going to have much competition; 90 percent of my coworkers were women in their 50s-70s. They’re going to ask you how you will sell a product. Give a good example and you’re in. Also, you have a required drug test, so if you do drugs, do not apply.” —CostcoSampleGirl.  Watch out for the things you should never, ever buy at Costco.

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Costco retail wholesaler, people shopping entrance and exit

Saturday is the best time to go

“Saturdays and Sundays will always have the most samples. If you want unlimited amounts of samples and no lines, go on a Monday or Tuesday, but there are less to choose from. On the weekends, go right around 1:00 or 2:00 because all shifts are out at that time.” —former Reddit user

“Try to avoid coming on Sunday. Everyone and their dog comes into Costco on Sunday, usually after church. Unless you enjoy waiting for ten minutes in a crowd of people, of course.” —rivanio

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Joe Biden Vice President Joe Biden talks with Costco employees in the bakery section of the store while shopping at a Costco in Washington
Shutterstock / Susan Walsh/AP

We’re technically not Costco employees

“We don’t technically work for Costco, believe it or not. We work for a contracted company called WDS (Warehouse Demo Services)*. But we only stay in one store.

“WDS treats us fairly well. Costco employees get treated MUCH better. We don’t get any benefits and get $11 an hour with only a $.25 raise every year. Costco employees get full benefits and frequent raises. I’ve applied at Costco many times to no avail.” Number1dad

*This company was called Warehouse Demo Services when this Reddit user worked at Costco, but they changed their name to “Club Demonstration Services” in late 2014. So nowadays, Costco free sample employees work for Club Demonstration Services, but it’s the same company.

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Child breaking off piece of chocolate bar

People do take the whole tray (and more)

“Once I was giving out Ferrero Rocher [chocolates] and this 15-year-old took nine trays’ worth. That was 63 candies and about 50 bucks’ worth of product, right into his pockets…He kept asking if he could have more. We’re told not to say no, and he figured that out. He stopped because I was scowling at him. [This] story is unique because it’s extreme, but people taking loads of samples is not really unique, and I’m not really fazed anymore.” —rivanio

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Costco shoppers crowd through a Seattle store
Elaine Thompson/Shutterstock

We still shop at Costco

“I’ve always been a fan of Costco samples. I still enjoy them. And bulk goods. But I am kind of jaded at this point.” Number1dad.   Learn the secret to why Costco’s pizza tastes so delicious.

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Candy, nuts and liquor sit in a customer's cart at a Costco warehouse store, in Seattle.
Shutterstock / Elaine Thompson/AP

It’s not as good a job as it might seem

“On the surface, it sounds great. Stand in one place giving people free food. If that was the job, it probably would be good. However, our job is to sell the food to you. So, while we’re either making or giving samples out, we have to convince you to put the package in your cart.

“Combine that with people who don’t say thank you, having samples spit onto the tray or the table or (maybe) the garbage, people demanding to know where things are and scowling when we say we don’t know, being called horrible things on an occasional basis, and no benefits, I’m pretty sure there are better jobs in the world.” rivanio

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No guilt brownies
Taste of Home

People love cheese and chocolate

“I’d say that anytime we bake brownies, it’s like we’re giving out [drugs]. In terms of how many people actually buy though, [the most popular product] would probably be the multigrain tortilla chips. We also sell a lot of steak strips.” —rivanio

“Most popular is probably anything cheese-related. Who doesn’t want to try free cheese? That and anything cooked hot—cookies, hot pockets, pot stickers. We demonstrated each of those at least once a week; they smell SO good cooking.” —ROBaddict.  Next, learn the shopping tips that will save you tons of money at Costco.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest