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Costco Restarts Free Sample Carts for Hungry Shoppers

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Costco is relaunching the free food sample carts in June 2021. (Photo by Webster)

Let the sample grazing begin.

Shoppers will soon be able to snack their way through the wholesale warehouse maze that is Costco. For many, that one simple free treat thing feels like a return to normalcy.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Costco will phase back their pre-pandemic sample serving carts. While the carts remained in place over the last 15 months, they mostly functioned as product displays, which, let’s be honest, are nowhere near as cool as sampling the products in bite-size portions. Some stores attempted to continue serving samples in sealed, pre-packaged form — still not quite the same. 

Richard Galanti, Costco chief financial officer and executive vice president, made the announcement in a Friday investor call. 

The first phase of the sample return will roll out in 170 stores in the first week of June. The remaining stores, around 550, are expected to be serving the goods by the end of the month.

Not only will customers soon be able to stalk the sample servers and bum-rush the cart when the new trays are put out, the food court will also allow half-capacity seating this month. Costco says it will space the tables and keep each to a four-person maximum.

Following the latest guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the store is now allowing fully vaccinated shoppers to go unmasked in areas where local health guidelines allow. Californians will have to wait until June 15, when Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to fully reopen the state, to drop their masks in indoor public spaces.   

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.