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Costco to start accepting food stamps

pitu May 27, 2009 11:57 AM

In NYC, Costco will start accepting food stamps, on a trial basis, at its two stores in Queens and Brooklyn. According to the news reports, they had to be pressured into it - local city officials been working on the chain for years.

I didn't even know the food stamp program was optional for such a large food retailer. Costco says they are doing it because of the recession...

  1. KaimukiMan Dec 21, 2009 12:41 PM

    Does anyone have a problem with this, if so I can't figure out why. OK, the membership may be a question to work out. If we have people who need to stretch every food dollar and we have a store that specializes in providing quality goods at reasonable prices wouldn't that be a win/win situation? I'd rather the dollars go there than some rip-off store on the corner (not that all corner stores are rip-off's.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan
      monku Dec 21, 2009 03:29 PM

      As a shareholder and weekly Costco shopper I have a problem with it. It dilutes the membership premise that Costco was built on. Margins on items Costco sells are low because of membership fees. The stores and parking lots are crowded enough.

      Today I was at a Costco Business Center near downtown Los Angeles wanting a hot dog for lunch and there were 50 people in line with four windows open. This Costco is in industrial area with a McDonalds on the same pad, but there are more people waiting in line at the outdoor Costco food court than at the McDonalds. At the same Costco there are are no more than 3 customers at each cash register waiting to check out. I passed on the hot dog because I didn't want to wait in line. I've observed other Costco's with food courts indoors where they're acessible to members only and the lines are shorter than the outdoor ones during the lunch hours.

      1. re: monku
        j
        Jase Dec 22, 2009 10:23 AM

        Would you have a problem with it if membership fees were required but the food stamps were accepted as just another form of payment?

        To me, that would seem to be the best of both worlds. Someone on food stamps could stretch their dollars even further if buying in bulk helped. Of course, they'd have to think about the tradeoff just like all Costco members. Is the fee worth it vs savings. For some it is and others it isn't. But why deny that option if it's not detrimental to others.

        1. re: Jase
          monku Dec 22, 2009 10:36 AM

          I have no problems if membership fees are required and they use food stamps.
          When you break down the annual membership it's a few dollars a month.

    2. monku May 27, 2009 04:38 PM

      Another unknown policy is Costco has to let anyone in who isn't a Costco member access to purchase drugs at the pharmacy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: monku
        bagelman01 May 27, 2009 06:28 PM

        This is NOT a policy, but often LAW.
        In Connecticut, licensed departments such as Pharmacy, Hearing Aids, Liquor (and possibly Optical<not sure>) MUST BE OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. That is one of the reasons they have cash registers in the individual departments.

        However, there are members only deals not available to the general public. The pharmacy has a special discount for Costco members who do not have prescription insurance.

        1. re: bagelman01
          coney with everything May 28, 2009 06:15 AM

          same in Michigan--liquor and pharmacy (not sure about optical/hearing aids) has to be open to everyone.

      2. mrbigshotno.1 May 27, 2009 12:53 PM

        Will we have to pay the membership fee also?

        8 Replies
        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
          pitu May 27, 2009 02:26 PM

          I suppose so -- that's the way Costco works.
          You can read all about it
          http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/200...

          1. re: pitu
            w
            Woof Woof Woof May 27, 2009 03:12 PM

            No they are MOST DEFINETLY not. I literally just returned my Membership there in White Marsh Maryland for that reason EXACTLY and the Membership Clerk was VERY Adamant that they were not and had ABSOLUTELY no plans in the near future to. I even explained to her that BJ's recently started taking the EBT Card, why doesn't COSTCO, and I asked about COSTCO's future's plans to etc. They should take EBT though imo, well they lost my business. The Clerk was kind of nasty about it too. I think sometimes there is a stigma around having an EBT card. It's not ALWAYS someone who weighs 500 pounds with 6 kids living in the ghetto or Section 8 housing. Anyways, Thanks BJs :)

            1. re: Woof Woof Woof
              pitu May 27, 2009 04:06 PM

              It's a trial run in NYC - it's all over the radio here.
              I hope you let Costco corporate know they lost your business in MD - they say they'll do it if there's demand..

              From that thing I linked above:
              In a statement, the chief executive of Costco, James D. Sinegal, said:

              " In the past, we have not been convinced that there was sufficient demand among our membership to justify the expense and possible inefficiencies associated with accepting food stamps. However, we are mindful that many of our fellow citizens are facing unprecedented economic challenges at this time, and it seemed to us that it was worth reconsidering our position in that light."

              1. re: pitu
                w
                Woof Woof Woof May 27, 2009 04:31 PM

                Yea I read the article. Before and After I posted even so. Costco sounds really reluctant to do it, I mean I think Kirkland is a better brand than BJ's and the quality of Meat is better. jmo

              2. re: Woof Woof Woof
                Put a Sake in it Aug 22, 2009 03:10 PM

                I agree 100%. I actually work for the state, as an eligibility worker for foodstamps and medicaid. Food stamps, are supposed to be a supplement, so yes, some people on food stamps may already have a membership. The gross income limit for the foodstamp program for family of 4 is $3400.

                1. re: Woof Woof Woof
                  m
                  marneybrown Dec 21, 2009 11:24 AM

                  I really wish they would. It would help out our family tremendously. We have 4 children at home, us, and my parents to support. I would be able to buy more and spend less.

                  You are right about the stigma. We are a typical decent family that just needs that little extra help. Summertime is usually better as my husbands work increases and we make sure not to take advantage if we really don't need that extra help. It can be better used for someone who "really" needs it when their pay doesn't increase.

              3. re: mrbigshotno.1
                mrbigshotno.1 May 28, 2009 12:04 PM

                Sorry, I guess I didn't clarify myself above. I meant are "we" as the taxpayer going to have to spring for the membership fee along with the foodstamps or whatever they call them now.

                1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                  m
                  marneybrown Dec 21, 2009 11:28 AM

                  Remember that those that receive foodstamps are taxpayers as well, and I do agree that there are those that take advantage of it, but there are those, like us, that sometimes just need the extra help.

                  I have had a membership at costco for 13 years. I got it when we lived somewhere else and made plenty of money to play with. Back then it was easy for us to drop $500 a trip. Now I can't afford to go. Times are tough now and sometimes my membership isn't up to date. I don't think anyone should have to payfor someone elses membership though.

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