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Workers say you shouldn’t buy these items at Costco. Here’s why

Costco is much, much more than a big-box warehouse store. In fact, with the more die-hard of its frequent fliers, this members-only club has obtained near-cult status. There are numerous web pages and groups devoted to spreading the Costco love and gushing over favorite finds.

What’s even more remarkable is that Costco also seems to inspire a certain level of devotion amongst its workers, rare in a day and age when, let’s admit it, many employers and employees alike seem to treat one another as disposable commodities. While working at Costco isn’t always a great joy, it does come with some pretty sweet perks and benefits (first crack at those free food samples!), and the pay is pretty generous for retail. What’s more, according to Fox Business, each Costco employee gets a free Executive Membership (worth $120), and you know they’re going to want to take advantage of that by shopping where they work.

Well, that’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but let’s get to the scoop — what items do Costco workers pass up, despite the chance to snag them as soon as they hit the floor? Business Insider spoke with 46 employees at Costcos nationwide to find out.

Baked goods are too bulky

Several Costco employees mentioned the store’s bakery items as being on their “do not buy” lists. Not because these items are bad, really, but just because they tend to come in super-sized packaging. While most types of baked goods do lend themselves well to being frozen, as one Pennsylvania Costco worker told BI, they “don’t have the necessary storage space.” After all, not everyone can afford to buy an extra freezer, not to mention the electricity to run it, plus there’s also the issue of having the space to house it.

A Costco-shopping Redditor agreed with this assessment of the baked good situation, saying, “I think I’ve thrown out a lot of stuff when I lived by myself and I’d shop at Costco… mainly bakery items I failed to freeze.” Another chimed in with a bagel-specific tip, saying these “absolutely have to go in fridge, they mold within 2.5 days of being opened otherwise.”

The produce is also just too much

Another item that isn’t shunned for its quality — which is actually pretty decent — is Costco’s fruits and veggies. As one Minnesota Costco worker related, “While our produce department is one of the best in the business, I personally don’t eat veggies fast enough to buy in bulk, so two-thirds of it will spoil before I eat it.” Even a Costco manager agreed, saying the produce was “waste of money” for anyone unable to “eat the huge quantity fast enough.”

Several other workers did say that they considered Costco’s produce too good a deal to pass up, including this Arizona worker who said, “We get first pick before any other grocery store.” Perhaps these employees all have larger families, or maybe they’re taking a page out of the book of this Costco shopper who posted on Reddit: “I buy stuff, take what I need/want, and either donate the rest to the food bank, who desperately need it, or I take it in to work and share it with my co-workers.”

One Costco employee cautions against purchasing refrigerated items

A Costco employee posted a warning on Reddit about the mysteriously-named “D19,” but went on to explain in a further comment that Department 19, in their store, referred to the stand-up coolers containing “meats, cheeses, dips, pesto, and other strange items.” According to that worker, sometimes these refrigerated (or should-be refrigerated) items sit out on the floor for hours at a time (up to seven hours) while employees are stocking. As they put it, “Add that up almost every day for a week, it isn’t good.”

They did say, however, that while one coworker avoids buying anything from that department, they’ve never heard of any problems with spoilage/illness, and keep in mind this is only one person’s experience at one Costco — it does not necessarily indicate a company-wide norm. 

Also, another commenter said they’d been shopping at Costco for 20-plus years and never experienced any issues with the refrigerated items, either. This shopper went on to explain, “I don’t think a 7-8 hrs at room temp is that big of a deal, especially since that stuff is blocked up together and retains some cool. Seven or eight hours outside in the Texas sun? I might be more concerned!” 

Another worker says Goodyear products aren't so good

While some consumer advocates recommend Costco as a great place to buy tires, others aren’t so sure, so if you’re in need of a new set of wheels (well, just the rubber part, actually), your best bet is to shop around rather than assuming that Costco’s prices are going to be the best. If you do decide to re-tire at Costco, however, one tire center worker says to steer clear of one specific brand. As they posted on Reddit, “I’d personally recommend avoiding Goodyear altogether. People come in all the time with their tires on and have tons of issues.”

Several other Costco shoppers chimed in to hate on Goodyear’s windshield wipers as well. One called them “absolute c***,” while another said, “Just replaced mine and noticed quite quickly how s*** they were.” Yet another complained, “Why can’t Costco just get us a better grade of windshield wiper? Surely they must be aware of this by now,” so it seems like Costco doesn’t offer much of a selection when it comes to wiper brands.

Some Costco workers want it all

Business Insider did manage to locate quite a few Costco workers who were wild about absolutely everything Costco offered. In fact, 8 out of 46, or slightly more than 17 percent of workers interviewed say there are no Costco products they won’t pass up, at least as long as their funds are sufficient. One Ohio worker admitted “some items are out of my price range,” but said, “If I had disposable income I would buy everything from Costco.” A Washington state worker agreed, telling BI, “Honestly there is nothing I wouldn’t buy if I wanted it.” There was even one well-paid worker in California who claimed to have purchased items from each and every Costco department.

Wow, now that’s some workplace loyalty! If only Costco awarded employees stock dividends, these workers could invest as they shopped. In that case, there’d be no more reason not to just go ahead and just super-size everything. Bathing in gallons of mayonnaise! Sure, why not? After all, what’s good for Costco is good for the country, and definitely good for its workers.

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