Coronavirus Chaos Under Control at Costco in Oxnard

By Ray Stevens

When the news first hit the airwaves, the coronavirus was an isolated event thousands of miles away in China. The early signs that something important was about to occur  here at home stated with only a few items that began disappearing from the shelves.

The very first sold-out product were the digital thermometers. In mid-February, entire cases of these items were piled into shopping carts by Asian-American shoppers and there were none being re-ordered. No one was prepared for what was about to happen next.

In just under two weeks, members began flocking to the store. Lines stretched around the building and the parking lot hours before the store opened. Once the doors opened, members were met by gloved Costco staff handing out sanitize wipes and directed to the posted signs that stated there was a limit of two cases of water per membership card – a sign many shoppers didn’t bother to read as they piled cases of water into their carts, only to be told by a Costco employee that they would have to remove some of them because of the new limits.

All stock of hand sanitizer disappeared in a matter of hours. Sanitize wipes and liquid hand soap were the next items to vanish. Then other items rapidly followed; rubber gloves, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and bleach. Quickly followed by vinegar rice, beans, toilet paper and paper towels.

Then, on Friday March 6th word came down that all roadshow and in-store food samples were to be suspended. Weekend demonstrations of boxed health products such as Qunol’s Liquid C0Q10 and Liquid Turmeric could only be verbally presented, but no samples could be distributed.

While members were a bit upset by the temporary loss of free food, the entire staff of Club Demonstration Services (CDS) employees were the hardest hit. Many were re-assigned to cleaning/sanitizing jobs so that they wouldn’t lose their wages during the two weeks or more of the sample suspension.

On the plus side, Costco has never been cleaner! Floors are being swept and mopped at regular intervals. Counters at the membership customer service area and check-out are being swabbed. The bathrooms are spotless! Garbage cans are being wiped and sanitized about every ten minutes, as well as the food court tables, condiment and drink dispensary area. 

Although check-out lines are longer than usual, every register is open, with the wait time usually not longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

CDS is hoping the temporary suspension of samples will be over by the end of the month, but that could change anytime. Water and other supplies are being re-stocked as fast as it sells, and most members are understanding and calm.

Other non-food road show items such as massage chairs, flooring, jewelry as well as the standard solar, heating/air conditioning, computers and TV company sales reps are all on-hand and all other services are operating business as usual.

Ray Stevens is a resident of Oxnard


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