I’ve lived here some time now and pretty much seen it all but one thing which never ceases to amaze me is Taiwanese getting condiments at Costco. Young and old, rich…poor they have no shame filling overflowing plates, cups to the rim, sizable bags brought from home full of sauerkraut, relish, mustard and whatever else that isn’t hammered down. My question is what do they do with it? Does it fester in their fridges for years? Traded at their local breakfast bar for a sandwich? Eaten as a midnight snack?
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I used to see this a lot at the Zhongho Costco, but haven’t seen it in Taichung though I’m sure it happens.
If my MiL is any clue to it, then it disappears in the refrigerator till it is thrown out and a new refrigerator is bought. As a matter of fact that reminds me to pitch the pickled veggies she has in my one fridge that have been there for the past year and play dumb if my wife asks me about it.
They are free. Taiwanese like a bargain even if there isn’t any, that’s why everything that is really inflated in costs is sold at 10-20 percent discount and people will buy it. So if anything’s for free, it is for the taking. That said, since I usually go to Costco, before a big dinner and buy those sacks of onions, I always look at the chopped onions coming out of the machine longingly. Forget free, I would even pay for a bagful of already chopped onions
What entertains me at Costco are the long lines that queue up for the freebie tastes on toothpicks given out by the promoters. You won’t see me lining up for a bit of sausage. But then Taiwan does like a queue and the combined lure of a freebie and a wait must be irresistible.
The thing is, the packages at Costco are so big and the brands often unique to the market, so that you have no idea whether a 1st-time purchase is going to be a huge disappointment and waste of money. So it’s not just a line for a freebie – the samples are actually a good way to find out whether the stuff is any good.
The thing is, the packages at Costco are so big and the brands often unique to the market, so that you have no idea whether a 1st-time purchase is going to be a huge disappointment and waste of money. So it’s not just a line for a freebie – the samples are actually a good way to find out whether the stuff is any good. [/quote]
I have to agree with you there. Try a smaller package before you move on to the big ones.
Yes, the packages are big and in theory a taste would be a good way to try before you buy, but how many of those tasters end up buying the product? I don’t see very many. Must be awful tasting crap. I’ve asked local friends about whether they do it and why, and not a single one of them said it was to try before they buy. They did it because it was free and it was something to do besides sit at home. I think it’s how Costco gets rid of stuff just before it expires.
About the condiment area, clearly some people have no shame. Nevermind that the purpose for the condiments is for the hotdogs, not to make mountain-high salads or tripling the size of a pizza slice, but maybe that’s just how it’s done in the West and here, chopped onions and relish make a fantastic salad or pizza topping. What is particularly shameful is people filling plastic bags and hauling it home. I also saw a lady once fill a rather large shoulder bag with napkins, emptying the dispenser. How embarrassing.
Craig is absolutely correct. Costco for Taiwanese is like an amusement park, with free rides er food thrown in.
I dunno how Taipei is but Kaohsiung’s costco is filled with gargantuan free sample lines and glassy eyed people walking around looking like they were raised by wolves and just ventured into the city. Occasionally they will stop to buy milk, and tissue paper en masse.
You really have to be a master of costco’s layout to get out of there quickly, seems like people are there to fester/get in the way more than they are to shop.
And let’s not kid ourselves, the free sample people are not sampling, they are eating lunch.
Yeah, Mrs. the chief never leaves Sushi Express without a couple of fistfuls of teabags in her bag.
I made the mistake once of referring to this as theft.
She had a very clearly and cogently delineated explanation of how it was anything but and was mortally offended that I would even suggest such a thing.
Being my own man, and operating on a generally more elevated moral code, you know…I caved.
It hasn’t been brought up again.
But the chieflette still giggles about it whenever we go.
From this buyer’s perspective yes. Maybe others are just freeloaders, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of samples without real intention to buy, but I’ve also bought, after sampling, a decent amount of stuff I might not have been willing to without tasting it first.
Yeah, most are probably freeloading. But it doesn’t make sense to conclude it must be awful tasting. Some is very good stuff, but expensive. And some is good, reasonably priced, but not on the buyer’s intended menu or in the buyer’s budget at the moment.
That’s a very good point. You’re probably right. But samples do serve other purposes. In addition to snaring a few buyers (who may end up being repeat buyers, btw) it also helps attract customers who like free samples – paying customers who buy other stuff and who also pay annual fees. Call it entertainment if you like, but it’s all part of the atmosphere that attracts people to Costco.
If you have small children, the free samples are great. It mellows out our daughter and gives her something to hold. She particularly likes the Korean chicken soup, but they had no free samples yesterday and my wife won’t buy it. :s
I was in Costco in California recently and was shocked by how many free sample stations there were, how big the portions doled out were, and how absent the line-ups were. Me and the wife had a good laugh about how this would go over in a Taipei Costco. A stampede would likely ensure.
my favorite condiment thievery experience was witnessing four office ladies on their lunch break split a loaf of bread, then proceed to eat relish, sauerkraut and onion sandwiches until the loaf was gone. 7.5 NT per person lunch…brilliant!
my favorite condiment thievery experience was witnessing four office ladies on their lunch break split a loaf of bread, then proceed to eat relish, sauerkraut and onion sandwiches until the loaf was gone. 7.5 NT per person lunch…brilliant![/quote]