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Shopping at Costco (The New Normal) for now...

DaveNV

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I've been good about staying at home, but we're running low on some things, so this morning I ventured out to Costco. Much has changed since I was there just a few weeks ago. I wanted to share my experience, to give Tuggers a head's up of what you may find next time you go to your local warehouse.

As you may already know, they have adjusted their hours. They're opening earlier during the week, but now close at 6:30. Weekend hours are the same as they have always been. My local warehouse has started "Senior Hour" on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, to accommodate those who may not want to fight the crowds later in the day. I was told it started at 8:00AM, but this morning my warehouse opened at 7:30. I didn't see anyone checking for members to be of a senior age group, so perhaps they're letting everyone in at that time. (Although as I think of it, everyone I saw was middle-aged or older. No kids.) I'd arrived at the warehouse at about 7:00, thinking I'd be able to score a place in line and get in at a reasonable time after they opened. Last time I drove by an hour before opening there was a line around the block. Today there were four people ahead of me in line. By the time the door opened the line had grown to about a dozen people. When I was loading my car after I was done shopping, there were many more cars in the parking lot, but there was no line to get in. So one idea: Arrive early.

Also, they are only allowing in two people per membership card. So leave the kids at home.

Carts were pre-sanitized, and there were workers staged to sanitize carts after they were returned. The two people doing it were from the staff who would normally offer samples. With sampling currently suspended, those folks are earning wages by sanitizing carts. Good on Costco to keep them working. Lots of signage outside, indicating what they are not accepting for return right now (we've discussed this already here, and it's the same list.) They had a defined routing of crowds going on, directing members down a long line of sanitized carts, and around the end, then back up to the entrance door. It looked like this is how they're controlling the entrance order of members, to maintain social distancing between shoppers.

Once inside the warehouse, things looked pretty much the same, except the volume of some merchandise seemed reduced. Not sure if that was deliberate, or if they're just low on things. Most of the grocery section aisles were full of staple food items, but I noticed the center section with clothing and seasonal stuff was lower than I'd expect at this time of year. They had several pallets of toilet paper and paper towels lining the main aisle that leads to the back of the warehouse. Signage indicated one of each item per member. At the back of the warehouse, where paper products are usually located, they had a "detour" set up, to route shoppers one way down the dog food aisle, around the end, and back up the paper products aisle. One way in, one way out. I'm sure it was all about crowd control, and to keep the lines moving. There was no TP in the back area. I heard another shopper ask an employee about TP, and they were directed back to the front part of the store to the pallets lined up there. The Costco person said, "You should go there now - they go fast, and it won't last." That shopper took off for the front. I saw them later, and they had a brick of TP in their cart. I'm sure they felt lucky.

Other changes I saw:

A number of departments were closed. Optical and Hearing Aids were the two I specifically saw. I'm sure the reason is due to the close contact between Costco staff and the member in those departments. Don't know about Photo or the Cell Phone Kiosks, but I'd assume minimal staffing, if they're open at all. The Food Court is take-out only. The Gas Station was open, but is also under restricted hours. Plan ahead if you intend to get gas.

They are spacing out which check out registers are open, with only about every third register open. They had taped off the areas between registers, to force the line to go straight back from the register, not meandering or "bottlenecked," as they tend to do in regular shopping times. They have the lines pretty clearly indicated of where to stand. Cashiers were doing their usual thing, except they didn't touch my membership card - they scanned it with their handheld scanning gun.

They have installed plexiglass sneeze guards in areas where the cashier stands. They asked me to stand in front of it, to provide a barrier between me and the cashier. (The credit card machine area did not have the plexiglass.) On leaving the building, the person checking receipts at the exit door also has a cart with a plexiglass sneeze guard, and she asked me to hold out my receipt under the guard, kind of how a ticket booth at a movie theater works. She did the marker swipe on the receipt as normal, and I was on my way.

The Member Services area had taped off lines to direct people in through a certain door, not the main warehouse door. One Refund Cashier and one Membership Clerk are all they're allowing to work at one time, so they can maintain distance. I heard a supervisor talking about moving a pallet of returned merchandise back to the "quarantine area," so apparently they're moving returns to a certain area, so it doesn't contaminate the other merchandise in the warehouse.

All in, it was pretty painless today. But it was definitely different. And I expect for now, this is going to be the "new normal" for shopping at Costco.

I hope this information is helpful. I'm curious to know if your recent shopping experience at Costco is much different than this one was for me.

Stay healthy,
Dave
 
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rickandcindy23

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We found some shortages at our local Costco on Monday, but funny that there were no empty shelves. No quinoa and brown rice. No green beans (no canned vegetables except corn). No cauliflower in the produce department, and no cucumbers, broccoli or peppers. no riced cauliflower in the frozen dept. Rick got his eggs and bacon. That was important to him, and he got orange juice, too.

That was odd, all of these things they did not have, those were on my list. We had to go to WalMart for the rest.

But I did get toilet paper for my stepdad and Rick's stepmom (86 and 92 years old) because we told both of them they cannot go out, and my stepdad was on his last half-roll. Helen still had 3 rolls, so she wasn't in a dire situation yet. My stepdad eats dinner with us every night, he lives 9/10 mile from our house, so he drives over. He has done that for 17 years, so it's not a new thing. He isn't going anywhere but to our house. I worry that our trips to the grocery store will infect him, but we are so careful, and we don't get a cart at WalMart, and we each have hand sanitizer in our pockets. It's expired, but it's still good, I think because it has alcohol in it.
 

CalGalTraveler

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@DaveNW Thanks for sharing. This makes me feel better about eventually venturing out to Costco. I hope our local warehouse has taken similar measures to protect shoppers and their employees. Ours never even had wipes for the carts. Not even 2 weeks ago when I visited (reported on another thread).
 

DaveNV

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@DaveNW Thanks for sharing. This makes me feel better about eventually venturing out to Costco. I hope our local warehouse has taken similar measures to protect shoppers and their employees. Ours never even had wipes for the carts. Not even 2 weeks ago when I visited (reported on another thread).

I saw that you'd posted about the carts. I'm sure your warehouse is doing as they are here - where they pre-sanitize it for you. I'm curious to hear how it is when you do go back there.

Dave
 

Passepartout

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Crap! If I'd known you were going, I'd have given you my shopping list! Trying to avoid the inevitable Costco run, but that only works for so long.

Just kidding! Thanks for the review. I just went to a neighborhood state liquor store for pickled veggies, and some patron crowded right up to me while I was checking out. I said, 'Do YOU MIND!?' She backed off. But sheesh! what are people thinking? And no, I didn't forget to capitalize 'patron'. :)
 

CalGalTraveler

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BTW...Instacart does shop Costco, however we don't have available slots in our area. Perhaps they have availability in yours.

I have heard of people hiring TaskRabbit to restock and deliver from Costco but will be more than $3.99 per delivery.
 
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rickandcindy23

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Crap! If I'd known you were going, I'd have given you my shopping list! Trying to avoid the inevitable Costco run, but that only works for so long.

Just kidding! Thanks for the review. I just went to a neighborhood state liquor store for pickled veggies, and some patron crowded right up to me while I was checking out. I said, 'Do YOU MIND!?' She backed off. But sheesh! what are people thinking? And no, I didn't forget to capitalize 'patron'. :)
People forget. They are used to standing close. Six feet it not a bad habit to start for good, but it will take time. I am trying to imagine six feet of distance at Disney World, Disneyland or any other amusement park.
 

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Our Costco setup sounds very similar to yours. Their cart sanitizing process appeared to be very thorough.

They were only looking at receipts at the door through the plexiglass - no marking. I also noticed the cell phone area was shut down and jewelry case empty.

As for product shortages, in addition to the items with a limit of 1 per member, they were cleaned out of fresh and frozen chicken.
 

DaveNV

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Crap! If I'd known you were going, I'd have given you my shopping list! Trying to avoid the inevitable Costco run, but that only works for so long.

Just kidding! Thanks for the review. I just went to a neighborhood state liquor store for pickled veggies, and some patron crowded right up to me while I was checking out. I said, 'Do YOU MIND!?' She backed off. But sheesh! what are people thinking? And no, I didn't forget to capitalize 'patron'. :)


Jim, sorry, I forgot to tell you I was going. Of course, the day's drive for you to come collect it might make it less of a good idea... ;) Glad you asked her to back off. She was probably a Patron patron. :)

I didn't have any issue with social distancing this morning. Everybody was avoiding everybody as best they could. And when I got to the register, there was no line. I kind of liked that part best. :)

Dave
 

"Roger"

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I imagine that there will be some variations at different Costco's in part due to the local populations.

There are four Costco's "near me" - all about one hour away, plus or minus five minutes. On Tuesday, I chose to go to the one located away from the big metropolitan area in my state. I arrived for "senior hour" at quarter past eight. There was a line going out the door, but it took only about five to ten minutes to get a cart and get inside. People in line were easily standing well apart from each other, usually eight to ten feet.

Inside, the store was fairly uncrowded and people were again keeping a respectful distance from each other. The one item that I noticed not there was the eight pack of spaghetti (as well as the six pack of assorted pastas, penne, etc.) Checkout was where the real lines occurred, two lines both backed up halfway across the store.

Most people's carts (including mine) were not at all packed. People were picking up a few items that they were most concerned about. About one out of six to eight carts were loaded to overflowing. When you got near the checkout, you were directed which one to go to and all the registers were going. The combination of having all the registers staffed and the fairly modest size of the purchases would account for the fact that despite the long lines, it really didn't take that long to check out

I hadn't cashed my rebate check yet (as mentioned, I live fairly far from any Costco.) There was only one person at the service counter. Very unusual, but as it turns out adequate. I only had to wait for one person in front of me.

All in all, I was impressed with how well Costco was handling everything.
 

moonstone

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Our DD went to our local Costco (Orillia ON) after work yesterday to pickup our prescriptions. Since we were only able to get a 3 mos supply before we left for the winter we only have a few days of supply remaining and couldn't wait until our quarantine is over next week to get refills. I called the prescriptions in ahead of time and spoke to one of the pharmacy techs instead of using the automated refill feature. I advised the tech that it would be our DD picking up the prescriptions and she told me that if she was just picking them up, and not doing any other shopping, to enter through the exit doors telling the person at the door she was just getting prescriptions, if there was a lineup to get in. Our DD said there was a short line to enter the store so she went in through the exit doors and went straight to the pharmacy counter and was able to pickup our order with no problems. The only difference in these times is that the Costco pharmacy said they can only fill 30 days at a time (instead of our usual 90 days supply that DH's benefits will allow) due to the Emergency Measures Act.

~Diane
 

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My wife went to our local Costco the other day, just to get a pizza from the food court for her and her dad. She called in advance, and was able to pay for it and pick it up with only one other customer present, and him at a distance. So good going. But just as she was picking it up, she saw some retail customers walking out with Purell! She quickly dropped the pizza, asked the clerk to watch it for her, and raced into the store section to find the precious item. Alas, gone before she got there. Oh well.
 

Karen G

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Dave, my last Costco visit was very similar to yours. But I'm kind of spooked about going again because our newspaper reported that two employees at Costco had tested positive for the virus, one at our store on St. Rose and one at the other Henderson store on Marks. Costco was out of tp when I went, but yesterday I learned from the Nextdoor website that a local janitorial supply place had some cases of tp to sell. I picked up a case of 80 rolls for $54 + tax but had to make an appointment for the pickup and go to their loading dock in the back of their office to pick it up.
 

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Many of the 'essential' stores open in my area have seniors hours at the beginning of the day, but I don't see much effort to ask 30 somethings to come back later. In the last 3 days, I've been to my local grocery giant and a drugstore at seniors hours, and while there were mostly seniors, there were many younger people as well....neither stores were terribly busy when I went, so it wasn't an issue.
 

DaveNV

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Dave, my last Costco visit was very similar to yours. But I'm kind of spooked about going again because our newspaper reported that two employees at Costco had tested positive for the virus, one at our store on St. Rose and one at the other Henderson store on Marks. Costco was out of tp when I went, but yesterday I learned from the Nextdoor website that a local janitorial supply place had some cases of tp to sell. I picked up a case of 80 rolls for $54 + tax but had to make an appointment for the pickup and go to their loading dock in the back of their office to pick it up.

I read about the two SW Henderson Costco employees testing positive for Covid-19. I'd hope they'd be kept away from work, and everybody would be hyper-aware of the risks of contagion. If you don't need to shop there, probably safer to stay away from awhile. Clever idea about the TP buy, though. Even the price was pretty good: My Costco today had 30 roll bricks of Charmin for $23. You're probably good to go for awhile!

Dave
 

DaveNV

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Many of the 'essential' stores open in my area have seniors hours at the beginning of the day, but I don't see much effort to ask 30 somethings to come back later. In the last 3 days, I've been to my local grocery giant and a drugstore at seniors hours, and while there were mostly seniors, there were many younger people as well....neither stores were terribly busy when I went, so it wasn't an issue.

That's what I was thinking about Costco this morning - with only a dozen or so waiting to enter at opening, there wasn't a lot of reason to make younger folks wait.

Dave
 

SmithOp

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I went yesterday at 2pm, there were at least 50 people waiting to get in so I got gas and left. Gas, no problem pulled right up to the pump and addendant was wiping it down.

I went this morning at 7:30, at least 100 lined up, not open yet. I drove away to a different location by 8:00 and people were already coming out with full carts. The line looked short so I looked for a parking spot, none to be had. I then noticed the line was Disney style, doubled back a couple of times using pallets. At least 100 people there too.

I drove away and went to Smart &Final. Only 10-15 people shopping there and I got everything on my list except TP.

Costco is still a no go down here in SoCal for me. :(


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DaveNV

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Costco is still a no go down here in SoCal for me. :(

I think your average population has a lot to do with that. We have a lot fewer people in my area than you do. Glad you got the things you needed.

Dave
 

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The only difference in these times is that the Costco pharmacy said they can only fill 30 days at a time (instead of our usual 90 days supply that DH's benefits will allow) due to the Emergency Measures Act.
That's interesting. My 90-day prescription was just refilled yesterday at a Safeway pharmacy. No mention of any limit on the 90-day supply.

Kurt
 

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My wife made our first trip to Costco today in over a month (well before any of the madness started), and was pleasantly surprised. She went about 12:30pm. There was a short, 5 min delay getting into the building as they were limiting the number in the store. There was nothing on her list that they were out of, and even though TP was not on out list, they still had plenty there (only Kirkland brand, however). Wasn't nearly as scary as we thought it was going to be. We are good for at least another month now. :thumbup:

Kurt
 

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The tire center was temporary closed at our local Costco because of the virus .

They had a line in the back of the store. where you could pick up only 1 pkg of TP and 1 pkg of paper towels.

Also you could pick up only 1 Lysol spray pkg of four cans..

They were also, no rubbing alcohol, gloves or wipes in the store.
 
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Luanne

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My wife made our first trip to Costco today in over a month (well before any of the madness started), and was pleasantly surprised. She went about 12:30pm. There was a short, 5 min delay getting into the building as they were limiting the number in the store. There was nothing on her list that they were out of, and even though TP was not on out list, they still had plenty there (only Kirkland brand, however). Wasn't nearly as scary as we thought it was going to be. We are good for at least another month now. :thumbup:

Kurt
The Kirkland brand of tp is the best!
 

dioxide45

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Similar experience at Costco in our parts. They were pre disinfecting all the carts. Outside they had wooden pallets to direct the line one way. So if you parked on the wrong side of the parking lot, it was a long walk. The sign saying what was out of stock was not up. It was laying there like they were working on updating it, but it was still laying in the same spot on the way out. They didn't have any TP and they didn't take my card, just scanned it as I held it up. It always bugged me in the past anyway. Why did they need to take it every time and lay it on their register? In and out was pretty quick. They had the steak and cheese I went in for, just not the TP that I figured they wouldn't have. I don't know if ours has a cell phone kiosk and the person usually pushing DirecTV and AT&T Internet was gone. No one is shopping for other stuff, but I did see people with live plants. Likely working in their yards during this time.

I haven't noticed big crowds. No lines and not many people in the store. Not different than say a Tuesday after work. They are directing traffic to different checkouts though and all the self checkouts were open.
 

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I saw that you'd posted about the carts. I'm sure your warehouse is doing as they are here - where they pre-sanitize it for you. I'm curious to hear how it is when you do go back there.

Dave
Thanks Dave, going next week.
 
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