My short bio: I have been a Costco employee for about 4 years, I am in a managerial position so I have pretty in depth knowledge about a lot of aspects of the company. I have been at work almost every day for the last 2 weeks since everybody has started freaking out. Id love to answer any questions about my experiences dealing with madness, or just any general questions about Costco.My Proof: (https://imgur.com/UPZZCNM)

EDIT: Thank you all, I wish I could keep answering every single question, but I gotta crash for the night. Im waking up in 4 hours to get ready to head back in for another day. Ill try and answer some more questions before I go in. But Ill keep answering questions tomorrow when Im off. Your all amazing and I look forward to all your questions. Keep them coming.

EDIT: And im back, Its my weekend so keep the questions coming, I have no plans so Ill be here all night answering.

Comments: 1668 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

BindweedHawkmoth2776 karma

My Mum and Aunt went to a Costco in the UK a few days ago. They said there was no toilet paper on the shelves, because what staff were doing was settIng up little toilet paper stations around the store. They checked each customer's trolley as it went past, and if there wasn't a pack of toilet paper on the trolley, staff would ask the customers if they would like some and give a pack from their station. If they already had one, the customer would not be given another pack.

I thought that was a brilliant way to stop people panic buying entire trolleys full! Do you know if this is a widespread practice, or maybe something this store came up with themselves?

MeatManager_2036 karma

That sounds like something they might have set up themselves, which is a great idea. At my location we just have the back wall, which is usually the home of toilet paper, blocked off, and employees handing out 1 pack per person as they come by. Every day when we open the door we have people running to the back of the store to get in line. Its crazy.

TobySomething278 karma

I wonder if people are so obsessed with toilet paper just because they heard it was running out, and it creates a self perpetuating rush to buy it. Ordinarily I feel like people usually keep a pack or two in the house and that should keep you for a few months.

Maybe if people had been talking about soap being unavailable initially everyone would be panic-buying that.

MeatManager_38 karma

Monkey see monkey do

AusCan531786 karma

Costco is opening their first store in Perth Australia tomorrow. How many kilometres should I stay away from that area? 6? 10? More?

EDIT: Apparently at 5:15 this morning the Carpark was half full.

2nd EDIT: Apparently the shelves were bare by noon.

MeatManager_1399 karma

New Zealand should be good enough distance.

Rubix130698 karma

I'm from Costco 749, I feel bad telling members I simply don't know when things are coming in, what are you telling members about when stock is coming in?

MeatManager_626 karma

I tell them the day we are supposed to be getting stuff, but I make sure to explain that its not a guarantee. Just today we didn't receive an entire pallet of product, still have no idea where it went. You can always use DRO to see your deliveries, not sure about some other departments, but they should each have something similar to see your expected shipments. Ask your manager to show you how.

uglyfucka552 karma

Thanks for all your hard work! How have the customers been? Some seem to be downright abusive in my country, then again most of our shelves are empty now

MeatManager_1157 karma

Normally 99% are amazing and understanding. But in the last 2 weeks its basically been like this. 50% are just like "okay ya your out no problem thanks", and walk away. 30% say something like "o my god I cant believe your out" and roll their eyes and walk away. 10% are incredibly kind and thank me for working. And of course my favorite last 10% are the people who start yelling at me. Today was probably the worst of it. We had to close off the entrance and only let a certain amount of people in at a time, and I heard there were a few fights that started. I personally had to get in between 2 people who started yelling at each other over the last of our ground beef that we had. It was a fun day.

PanickedPoodle532 karma

What's really the best time to shop to beat the crowds?

(Feel free to PM me and only me the answer.)

MeatManager_574 karma

Recently, there is no good time. For the past 2 weeks it has been busy non stop. But normally its the exact times you dont wanna go. 4-5, during rush hour traffic, and 7-close. Those are always the best times to beat the crowds. The half an hour before closing is always going to be the slowest time of the day, but thats true for any store.

WaffleBiscuitEater530 karma

Who makes the “limit 2” policies, managers or corporate? How do you know or decide which products to limit vs which can be left alone?

MeatManager_888 karma

It was a corporate decision to make it mandatory, but our GM made that call a few days before that order was passed down. The structure of costco really does give a lot of power and the stores and its employees to make decisions like this even without the approval of corporate.

ButterscotchFog422 karma

Other than toilet paper, what’s something that surprised you that sold out fast?

MeatManager_1085 karma

Literally everything food related. I understand stocking up on frozen chicken and rice. But who the hell needs to buy 50-60lbs of ground beef. How do you even have that much space in your freezer.

U_knowthatguy263 karma

Can Costco institute a "No Return" Policy on Paper, water, personal and medical supplies for 3 mos after this mess? Would that slow stuff down too since it's widely known that people are buying knowing that they can just return it all when things are back to normal.?

MeatManager_349 karma

I really don’t know how they will handle it all. But I can say Iv seen someone return a Christmas tree that was dead from the year before, they got their money back.

idksomuch210 karma

How often is your store able to restock stuff like bottled water, toilet paper, paper towels? I understand supplies are a nightmare right now. I've been trying to buy paper towels from my local Costco for 2 weeks now, not because I'm trying to stock up, but because our apartment actually needs paper towels because we ran out and I kept putting off going to Costco because I'm one of those nutjobs that kept thinking "it won't get that bad" "people are just hoarding" and "people who are hoarding are crazy" but now... joke's on me I guess.

MeatManager_271 karma

We get a shipment of stuff like that almost every day, somethings every other day. But the problem is that it is all gone within an hour or 2 of opening. So unless you can get there before noon on a weekday, your shit outta luck.

flickin_the_bean181 karma

How is management handling people who get sick or are quarantined? Are they offering sick pay, pto or leave outside what is offered regularly?

MeatManager_331 karma

Luckily Costco is pretty good when it comes to people calling in sick. Even if they don’t have enough sick time, it is really difficult to get in serious trouble for calling in sick. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m the coming weeks corporate releases some plan in regards to people self quarantining. Which a lot more people need to do.

TotallyHumanPerson172 karma

What are the most coveted and least favorite departments to work in, and where does the cigarette cage sit on that scale?

MeatManager_241 karma

Most departments arnt super difficult to get into if your willing to move, or at least get some cross training in. The only position I can think of is a forklift driver. It seems that everyone wants one of those spots. That or a front end supervisor, which everyone seems to be gunning for. Which is a stupid choice in my opinion, cuz your battling against like 20 other people for 1 or 2 spots. Not sure about the cigarette cage. My location doesnt sell tobacco.

Bacchus1976146 karma

Any inside info on the Costco meat case? Best deals? Bad buys? Not-so-prime cuts?

MeatManager_592 karma

Find YouTube videos online on how to cut your own steaks. The meat department isn’t an actually butcher shop. We get all our stuff in what is called subprimals. They are super easy to cut into steaks, and often times sooooooo much cheaper than buying actual steaks. Every steak you see in the counter, we have the whole piece in the back in a cryovac that you can buy for basically the same price as 1 pack, but you get 3-4 times the meat. And nothing will take you more than 10 minutes to process down yourself with a basic knife. And freeze the rest.

oneeyedelf143 karma

Why does Costco cut the caps off prime ribeyes just to sell them separately. I buy a choice ribeye and it will have its cap. I feel like they should be made to not call it a ribeye when they remove the cap...

MeatManager_121 karma

Fantastic question, we do it because its something different that most places dont. Its kind of just a special thing we have done for our members. They actually tried to change it to selling just normal prime ribeyes a few months ago, because when we cut the caps off and tie them, we lose a lot more of the actual steak and make a lot less. But they did not sell nearly as well. So the decision was to go back to this way. We dont make nearly as much money on it, but its something that our members love, so its what we do.

jsd119145 karma

I too work for Costco. Amongst the madness, I am on medication that suppresses my immune system. Dr told me I can’t go on disability because I technically can work, even though I’m at a high risk of catching the virus, and can possibly be fatal, which is also very stressful daily working. I also have a house payment and need to keep money coming in. What’s your advice if any? Thanks in advance!

MeatManager_217 karma

Honestly talk to one of your AGM’s or the GM themselves. Explain your situation and see if they can move you to a position that is out of contact. Your situation really is shitty and I’m sorry. If you have any extra vacation or sick time it might not be a bad idea to just take it. I know it’s not ideal. Everybody is getting kinda screwed by this. Best of luck my friend.

dadading_dadadoom143 karma

Are supply trucks making frequent drops or increased loads?

MeatManager_360 karma

Trucks are making their normal shipments, which is almost every day, and we are receiving slightly larger shipments. But the problem is its not just one costco thats getting hit. Every single one is getting completely bought out, so they have to spread what reserves they do have pretty thin. Our depots are almost completely empty. Normally if we see a massive increase on a certain item, we can normally email or call our buyers and request more and get it in a day or 2. But its so bad our regional guys in corporate have told us that under no circumstance are we to reach out and request more product, they are sending us literally everything they have or can get their hands on. Im hearing reports of our buyers having to pay double the price on stuff just to get us product on such short notice.

zombietrooper391 karma

I'm a bread vendor for a Costco here in Virginia. Can confirm the insanity. Dropped off a $2000 bread delivery this morning, it was gone by 3pm. (out of an $8000 load, have other stores too, ie Sam's Club and Walmart). We're at max capacity. Gotta give Costco mad props. They're the only store that understands the situation and isn't cussing me out for "not delivering enough bread".

MeatManager_310 karma

Ya it truly is ridiculous. The amount of product we are moving, we just have to throw our hands up be like o well I guess the shelves are gonna be empty there is nothing we can do. We all know that everybody is working as hard as they can to get us as much product as possible. So thank you for all your work as one of our vendors. The fourth right of Costco is "Respect our vendors" and damn do you guys deserve it.

ImArcherVaderAMA58 karma

What are all the other "rights"? Super interesting stuff, thanks for the AMA.

MeatManager_266 karma

  1. Obey the Law
  2. Take care of the members
  3. Take care of your employees
  4. Respect your vendors
  5. If you do these, you will reward your shareholders. The 5 rights of Costco

KeepGoing65532 karma

Thanks for all that you're doing. You mentioned that your depots are almost completely empty. Do you think at this rate, the demand will overtake the supply and the rate that your buyers can obtain supplies? Would it be possible for stores to actually run out certain items for a while?

MeatManager_61 karma

This is already happening. Im not sure about some other departments currently. But in the meat department we have been out of stuff like our 3 pack of organic ground beef for a while. We got a shipment of it in last friday, about 5k worth. It was completely gone in 45 minutes.

fo8squad128 karma

What is the point of having the workers check your receipt as you walk out? They aren’t really checking much and seems like a waste of time. Is it really a theft deterrent?

MeatManager_366 karma

Its not really a theft deterrent. They are there to check to make sure big items on the bottom of your cart such as water or toilet paper were scanned, as those are the most commonly missed items. They also scan the receipt for doubles of any item. When we are working as fast as we do, and scanning so many items, its very easy to accidentally having something scan twice. Even the best cashiers can make mistakes. Its more to make sure the member isnt overcharged.

Broote106 karma

Has anyone said WHY they are stocking up on toilet paper? Like other that they saw someone else do it? Is there some rationale, or just panic purchases?

Figure maybe you have some insight, thanks :)

MeatManager_171 karma

Honestly just panic purchasing. Monkey see monkey do. People are just buying whatever they can get their hands on.

ette21291 karma

Sorry if this has been asked. What is Costco doing to (a) protect you guys as employees and (b) protect shoppers, in addition to wiping down cart handles?

Edit: and thank you, truly.

MeatManager_379 karma

We are making sure we have a talk with all of our employees about the proper sanitation procedures we already have in place. But most importantly its the sample company. The people who normally are at all the sample stations. Costco has footed the payroll to keep all of them on staff, even though its a different company, and their entire job is to not only wipe down carts, but also walk around the store and clean all surfaces. The freezer door handles are being cleaned every 20-30 minutes by them. They are the kindest people in the world and doing an amazing job helping keep us and our members safe. They are basically invisible to the normal person. I guess it helps that they are all 90 years old and moving at a snails pace, lol. But they get the job done.

YuckFou_and_MourYom89 karma

Does your town or county have positive cases? Has the company sent directives out on what to do if any employees are tested and are positive?

MeatManager_147 karma

It does, I believe theres been 3-4 confirmed cases within like 20 minutes of me. The emails we are receiving about all of this are either reminders about going over proper procedure when dealing with cleanliness, and even some bring up new procedures and better ways to combat it. Of course we have have been directed to stay home and not come in at all if we are feeling even a bit ill, and to report it to your direct supervisor. But not specifically about testing positive.

kogeliz80 karma

Have you seen anything ridiculous? Like someone purchasing four carts of string beans, people rushing the doors, or people fighting?

MeatManager_264 karma

Every day we have people sprinting at opening time to get to the TP. And today we had to have a few managers at the entrance with bullhorns calming people down and slowing their entrance. There was 1 actual fist fight. And a lot of people getting into screaming arguments with some pushing. Kind of what you would expect when everyone is losing their minds. At this point Im so exhausted after every day im becoming kind of numb to how busy and stupid it all is. I now show up to work with a feeling of, well time to just get bum rushed, time to work as hard as I can.

badtradesguy70 karma

should I buy more costco stock?

MeatManager_243 karma

Yes. Always buy Costco stock. Costco ride or die

likecalifornia68 karma

Are you and your staff working extra hours in order to restock things and unload trucks?

Is there anything that you didn’t expect out of this craze that had really caught you off guard?

Do you think this will change the grocery store preparedness game for future diesease outbreaks?

MeatManager_174 karma

The first couple days of if almost everyone was working overtime. I put in four, 14 hour days in a row. But at this point we are so low on product that its gotten to the point that there is only so much we can do. We are forced to just have empty shelves and deal with it because dont have anything else to stock out.

For being caught off guard I would have to say how it hasnt stopped. After the first week of it we were saying okay how much shopping can people actually do, but boy were we wrong. It doesnt ever stop.

For future outbreaks I honestly doubt it. Iv been talking to one of my meat cutters, and in his 15 years at costco. He said he has never seen anything remotely close to this. Entire isles empty. There honestly just isnt any way to prepare for something like this on such a short notice.

B9-H865 karma

If I get in the 20 items or less lane when I in fact have 20 items or more, will I go to jail?

MeatManager_170 karma

Yes

Luck12847 karma

Will Costco accept the hoarder return items? Seem like a possible contamination issue if they reissue the items back on the store front ?

MeatManager_71 karma

I wouldnt be surprised if we still accept all the returns, most of the time we just send the item out to be destroyed. Items that are returned are almost never resold, unless its 100% unopened.

songbird80844 karma

Since you're a meat manager, I've gotta know...

How many Gift Hams do you sell at Christmas?

My husband works at a Costco Depo and "Gift Ham" is a big running joke.

Give her what she wants this Christmas. Give her the gift....of ham

MeatManager_38 karma

The Meat department doesnt actually deal with the gift hams.

Bobsaid41 karma

How bad have things gotten at your store? The one near me got a tp shipment in this weekend and had a 2 hour wait to get into the store. The line was at least 2-3x the length of the club just to get in.

MeatManager_63 karma

We have been seeing people get in line 2 hours before we open the store. We have had to block the entrance to control the amount of people entering at a time.

sophie_coyote39 karma

How soon until the store closes?

MeatManager_152 karma

I honestly doubt we will close our doors. We have been receiving emails almost daily from higher ups thanking us for the fantastic job we are doing and reminding us to be safe and follow all the proper procedures. But there has been 0 mention of closing stores.

withoutreservation38 karma

Barring recent times, what’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the job? Thank you for all your hard work!

MeatManager_111 karma

When I first started a coworker was joking around when we were cleaning up. And tried to spray me with the hose, missed me. The water shot out a slightly open window and hit a woman and a baby in her arms. They were totally fine and we were kind of worried in the moment. But we were laughing about it for months after.

stevemc9238 karma

i work for aldi as a store assistant, whats your opinion that all supermarket workers should be given a bonus for having to deal with this shit? were not qualified to be dealing with fights, abuse, rationing etc. I have just resigned myself to getting ill from this virus as i am in such close contact with people and handling so much cash, our nurses are doing a great job right now but i dont see much respect for our supermarket workers doing it tough exposing themselfs to this virus with no protection, its only a matter of time before someone seriously gets hurt

MeatManager_39 karma

Yes, do that think that it would be fair for supermarket employees to get something, but let’s be honest, that isn’t going to happen. Let’s be real, it’s retail, we always get the short end of the stick.

Murderyoga38 karma

Has Costco considered home delivery during this crisis?

MeatManager_74 karma

I haven't heard anything about it, I doubt that we would with the amount of people that shop there. But I have seen a massive increase in the instacart people that I recognize.

VitalityVixen34 karma

What is the weirdest thing you have ran out of? I went to tesco and there was a full wall of water but ALL of the beer was gone

MeatManager_106 karma

Produce. If people are stocking up in preparation for being quarantined, why the hell are you buying food that will go bad in a few days.

Joeliolioli34 karma

Are you the amazing person in the meat department that tipped me off to top sirloin cap and helped me get a delicious prime roast the other day?

MeatManager_62 karma

I might have been, I always tell people to buy the top sirloin cap. Probably the most tender and delicious steak/cryovac you can buy for a cheap price. Most people dont know about it in cryo form, but its stupidly simple to cut into steaks yourself. And its going to be better than most popular steaks such as the New York.

Libra833 karma

Have you limited items to these ass holes?

MeatManager_79 karma

Its just people panicking like crazy. But yes we have. Theres a lot of different items like toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, and others that if you come up to the registers with more than one we will just tell you to go put them back.

grindtashine33 karma

How much is the spike in revenue on a daily basis? Weekly?

Dollars or %

MeatManager_109 karma

Personally in our meat department, we are seeing 100% increases on a daily basis over last year. And that’s with maybe half of the product. If we were constantly kept in full supply. We would be doing triple the amount of normal sales. This last busy day. One of our Portland locations as a store is usually does around 400k a day. They did 1.7 million. The second highest sales in the company that day. The store was empty at the end.

MAD-MAXXXX30 karma

How do I get a job as a gas attendant at Costco?

MeatManager_84 karma

Honestly just keep applying and if you get an interview. They don’t care about past work experience, if you show your enthusiastic and want to work your golden. And gas station is the easiest department to transfer to once your in.

cjk279327 karma

What happened to your index finger?

MeatManager_58 karma

MY FINGERS ARE NORMAL

Jojuj23 karma

Has there been an increase in shoplifting?

MeatManager_109 karma

Not that I have heard of. Shoplifting is not as big as a problem as most other retails. From the layout of our store, only 2 main ways in or out, and the fact that you need a membership to get in. It really deters people from stealing. And you can never forget our anti theft guy, who walks around the store as a shopper every day and watches people, hes fantastic at spotting people.

More people try to pull scams at the register or returning products rather than shoplifting.

Jumlee7710 karma

Can You manage my meat 😉?

MeatManager_66 karma

Of course, but its Costco policy to tenderize everything first.

Ojitheunseen10 karma

Did you guys discontinue Kirkland brand tissues?

MeatManager_8 karma

Not that I know of, probably just out.

foooood4thought8 karma

Do you think it would make sense to start limiting items to 2 per item per customer per day, e.g. 2 bags of rice? They are doing that at supermarkets in the UK right now.

MeatManager_16 karma

We actually have started limiting a lot of different items to only 1 or 2 per customer. I wouldnt be surprised if the list of items increases daily.

Frosty4l53 karma

Aren't you afraid of getting sick?

MeatManager_8 karma

Im young and relatively healthy. Im not worried about myself, Im more worried about who I spread it to. Thats why we wash our hands for at least 20 seconds up the elbow constantly throughout the day. Like every 20 minutes. If im not at work I've basically self quarantined. I just dont want to be the cause of someone like my parents getting sick. We all have to do our part.

Richard15831 karma

Quite curious but has management ever mentioned a plan for you guys to shut down? You think people will bust down the doors?

MeatManager_2 karma

I have not heard anything about us shutting down. I highly doubt that would happen. Fun fact. If every costco closed its doors tomorrow, it would be a bit more than a month before we needed to start closing down stores and selling property, and even then it would be a few more months before we were really screwed. We have a pretty decent safety net.

TwoTinyTrees1 karma

I know you’re not an expert on this by any stretch, but thinking you may be able to judge based on your experience: do you feel like we are near the pinnacle of the panic buying? Do you feel like supplies will be normal any time soon?

MeatManager_1 karma

Nobody has any idea. Last weekend I was talking with our GM and he thought that we would be slow during the week and have busier weekends. But every day since has been crazy busy. We cant keep up. At this point we keep joking that this is just our life now, its never going to end.

TwoTinyTrees2 karma

Stay strong! Thanks for continuously showing up.

MeatManager_1 karma

Its my pleasure, and as I think about it more, its kind of like how you imagine the stock market reacts. Whenever a big news story breaks about new cases or cities shutting down, it is pure madness the next 2 days, then it slowly decreases until the next big event. Last Thursday when cities started to close restaurants and such, it was one of the busiest days every besides the days leading up to christmas. Ever since then its been slowly dying down, but still crazy. Now that the average person, and most business's are taking it more serious, they are adding more safeguards and procedures to do what they can to slow the spread. All of this makes it seem like its busier than it actually is.

IamNotDruNk_enough-11 karma

[deleted]

MeatManager_4 karma

I cannot say for sure, as I work in one of the warehouse and have no experience with the online aspect of our business. Everything right now is crazy, the amount of sales and product we are moving through is unheard of. So I imagine the other parts of our business are also experiencing troubles managing this increased load. If it was through Instacart I would definitely contact them. But also no matter what send an email to costco directly. It is always our goal to make sure our members are taken care of. So if you have been having a problem with any aspect of our business we would love to know. Im sure we could help you figure out where something went wrong, and how to fix it.

xfighterr-13 karma

Got water? we’re hurting for some in New Jersey

MeatManager_5 karma

Ha, every time we get a new shipment in, we are out within an hour of opening.

gringgo-24 karma

Why did it take Costco so long to recognize the run on goods? As someone in management, you should have recognized this and put a stop to it.

MeatManager_29 karma

No one really expected it to happen as fast and intense as it did. Two weeks ago when the first couple of confirmed cases happened up in Washington, that next day was absolute mayhem. Nobody was expecting us to get hit harder than we do on holidays, and on such short notice. When it comes to snowstorms or massive events, we usually have at least a day or two of notice and can prepare. But this all happened in the same day. We just were not prepared to go from a store that normally does around 300k in a day, to 1.4 Mil