Millions of people love heading to Costco to stock up on groceries, and most of those people are normal shoppers, just like you. But Costco — just like other big-box stores — is notoriously a place where all kinds of weird people come out of the woodwork. They’re never more visible than they are in Costco’s grocery section. All you’re trying to do is stock up on your essentials and mind your own business — but that can get tough with these characters in your path.
Below, get the rundown on the worst people you’ll encounter buying groceries at Costco.
1. The guy who would hand over his first-born child to get a sample of that pizza
We all know that Costco’s hot samples are pretty amazing. Trying something new is one of the perks of doing your grocery shopping at the warehouse store. But some Costco shoppers get way too eager to try a sample — particularly if a Costco employee is offering a popular favorite, like pizza. This particular Costco shopper looks like he’d hand over his kid to get his hands on what’s basically a bite or two of food, tops. We’d tell him to chill out, but mostly we just want to get out of his way.
2. The friends who have to strike up a conversation right in front of the freezer or refrigerator case
This can happen at any grocery store, but it seems to occur way too frequently at Costco (typically when the store is packed full of people). These two people probably see each other all the time, but they wait to catch up on the latest news until they’re both blocking access to the freezer case with their carts. They seem completely oblivious to the movements of the crowd around them, so they won’t notice you if you try to ask them to move their carts. And they certainly won’t move until after you’ve walked up and down the aisle half a dozen times, biding your time to swoop in and grab that frozen pizza you’ve been craving all week.
3. The shopper who plows through the crowd to get a sample — until she sees what it is
Another breed of Costco shopper who’s way too invested in trying the samples? The shopper who uses her heavily-laden cart to plow through the crowd to get to the sample table, only to change her mind as soon as she sees what’s on offer. Not everybody’s a fan of green juice or crackers with cheese. And some were expecting something a little more indulgent than a piece of fruit. But most people manage to scope out the sample tables without being so obvious — or running over so many people’s toes.
4. The guy with a cart full of kale and a smug look on his face
Like any grocery store, the Costco grocery sells all kinds of food, both healthy and unhealthy. Many people go for a mix of items — but not this guy. He has his cart piled high with kale, protein powder, and vitamins. He also has a smug look on his face (and a pernicious judgey streak in his heart). He’ll give the side eye to anybody who approaches him with a bag of Doritos or a pack of Coca-Cola in their cart. But does he really subsist on green smoothies? Is that possible? He considers it beneath him to strike up a conversation with anybody else at Costco, so we’ll probably never know.
5. The guy who considers it a moral failing not to buy the industrial-size mayo or ketchup
Here’s another judgmental shopper you’re sure to encounter sooner or later at the Costco grocery: The guy who only heads to the warehouse store a couple times a year and considers it a moral failing not to buy the giant bottle of ketchup or a mayonnaise container larger than his head. He may give you a weird look if you choose normal-sized condiments, or size up your cart if you’re picking up standard-sized cans instead of those that are large enough to feed a camp full of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
6. The parents buying tons of soda while their kids sprint up and down the aisles
Grocery shopping with one kid — to say nothing of three or four — is no easy feat. So we automatically cut parents some slack when they have to brave the chaos that’s the Costco grocery on a weekend. But we always have to wonder what’s going on when these Costco shoppers buy super-sized mega-packs of sodas while their children sprint, screaming, up and down the aisles. These people do know how sugar works, right?
7. The crowd that waits for the next batch of hot samples to be ready
Think you’d already seen every kind of strange behavior around the Costco sample tables? Not until you’ve seen a crowd gather and awkwardly wait while an employee prepares the next batch of a hot sample. There’s not much to watch when the food is just sitting in the microwave or mini oven. (And there’s a reason why celebrity cooking shows usually skip to the part where the food is done.) We feel bad for the Costco employee who has to awkwardly stand there with these overzealous shoppers gathering around the table.
8. The shopper who takes way too long to decide which bags of produce she wants
Hoping to stock up on some produce in the walk-in cooler? You’d better hope that you don’t end up behind this shopper. Everybody needs to take at least a few seconds to decide which ears of corn to buy or which apples to choose when they’re shopping for loose produce. But this Costco shopper takes forever deliberating over bags of spinach or cartons of berries. Sure, you want the best veggies and fruits you can find. However, it seems unreasonable to hold up a whole line of people to inspect every bag of spinach.
9. The person who puts their hands all over the peaches or tomatoes before putting them all back
Another kind of Costco shopper you’ll encounter when you go to buy produce? The kind who picks up, turns over, and sniffs just about every peach or apple in the crate, then puts them all back and leaves the section empty-handed. We know the basics of choosing the best-tasting produce. (Hint: You really don’t need to spend multiple minutes scrutinizing, sniffing, and practically licking each peach or each branch of tomatoes you’re considering.) But this shopper definitely makes us think that we’re missing something.
10. The person who takes half a tray of samples
Perhaps the most notorious kind of bad behavior at the sample table is grabbing too many samples — but this Costco shopper feels no guilt. Most people just take a sample (okay, maybe two) to enjoy as they walk around the Costco grocery. However, we’ve all spotted somebody grabbing half a tray of samples and walking mysteriously away. Why are they hoarding samples? Do they have a bunch of other people with them who just have to try those mini egg rolls? Are they planning a party and don’t want to bother making appetizers? We’re not sure, and this secretive shopper doesn’t seem likely to spill the beans any time soon.
11. The people who change their mind and leave refrigerated items somewhere random
You may not catch this Costco shopper in action, but you’ve probably seen his handiwork. This is the guy who takes his time to choose the right package of chicken breasts or the perfect refrigerated pizza, then changes his mind and abandons it, not in another refrigerator case but on some random shelf. We understand not wanting to trek all the way across the store to put it back where it came from. But leaving it at room temperature just spoils it — literally — and ruins it for everybody else.
12. The shopper who wants to know a Costco employee’s life story
Whether they’re chatting up the sample lady or interrogating the cashier, some Costco shoppers love to talk — and don’t seem to have anyone to talk to outside of their beloved warehouse store. It’s probably a lot better to try to strike up a long conversation with a Costco employee than to ignore them, as so many other shoppers do. But if you were hoping to ask that Costco employee a question, you might as well give up now. They’re going to be there a while.
13. The people stocking up on bread and milk — just bread and milk — before a storm
These people seem to come out of the woodwork at Costco if the morning news has promised a particularly bad storm. They people run around the Costco grocery like chickens with their heads cut off, looking only for bread and milk. If you really expected to be snowed in or to have your house lose power, would those really be the most practical things to stock up on? We’re not sure, but we’re definitely skeptical.
14. The shopper who won’t look up from her smartphone to steer her cart
We don’t know what it is about Costco, but the warehouse store seems to attract the kind of shopper who stays glued to her smartphone, even when she’s pushing a cart down an incredibly crowded aisle. It’s unclear whether she’s scrolling through Facebook, catching up on the news, or perhaps polling friends about what she should buy at Costco. But if you aren’t careful, she may slam her cart right into you or roll it over your toes — without even looking up.
15. The people who abandon their carts in the middle of aisle — and get mad when you try to move them
Costco’s shopping carts are huge and unwieldy. So we don’t blame people for stepping away from them for a second to compare frozen vegetables or pick out the spices they need. But anybody who leaves their cart in the middle of a busy aisle shouldn’t get angry and defensive when somebody nudges the cart out of the way so they can get through the aisle. Nobody was trying to steal their Cheetos — but they’ll remain convinced otherwise.
16. The couple who can’t stop arguing
Couples choose to argue at all kinds of inopportune times and places. The Costco grocery, unfortunately, is no exception. Sometimes, they’re actually arguing over something grocery-related. Kirkland versus name-brand is a real topic of contention in some households, we’re sure. However, the argument usually has nothing to do with the task at hand, and it just makes the grocery shopping experience more stressful (and embarrassing) for everybody else in the grocery section.
17. The shopper who misplaced her card somewhere between the door and the checkout line
So you’ve finally made it through the store and crossed off everything on your grocery list. Congratulations! Just hope that you don’t get stuck behind the shopper who somehow managed to misplace her Costco card somewhere between the door and the checkout line. She’ll rummage through her cart, root around in her bag, and check all of her pockets. And she’ll almost always find it — but the ordeal is probably more stressful for you than it is for her!
18. Shoppers who refuse to return their shopping cart
Once you’ve made it to the parking lot, you’ll encounter one last breed of annoying Costco shopper: The shopper who can’t be bothered to return their shopping cart. Despite the fact that there are numerous places to return a cart, these shoppers just opt to leave them adrift in the parking lot.