Sampling returns at wholesale clubs after COVID-19 break

·2 min read

Jun. 2—A favorite part of shopping at wholesale clubs is returning: free samples.

Sam's Club announced this week that its sampling and demo program, Taste & Tips, returns this week after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will return initially on the weekends and in limited quantities, according to a news release.

On social media, the company acknowledged the allure of samples.

"Samples are back, so stop yelling at us," the company wrote on Facebook.

The program will use new safety measures, including sealed samples. Sam's Club operates nearly 600 locations, including Concord and Hudson.

Costco Wholesale announced a "phased return" to full sampling during its third quarter earnings call. The first 170 of its nearly 550 clubs will start serving samples again this week with most returning by the end of the month.

The company expects restrictions to continue in some states.

"Increased safety protocols are and will be in place, including all samples prepared behind plexiglass, prepared in smaller batches for better safety control, and distributed to members one at a time," said Richard Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer, on the call.

At Costco, food courts will also return with a new and improved churro. Costco has a location in Nashua.

BJ's Wholesale Club has yet to announce when samples might fully return.

Sam's Club has offered samples for more than 35 years, but stopped for the health and safety of members and associates during COVID-19 pandemic.

"More than ever, members want to do more than just shop when they come to our clubs — they want to have an experience," said Megan Crozier, chief merchandising officer, in a statement.

New ways to sample includes roaming samples where items can be tried as members checkout, visit the member services desk or curbside pickup.