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Club Demonstration Services, the company that has for years offered food samples at Costco stores nationwide, suspended operations on Monday amid the new coronavirus outbreak, according to a store announcement.
The third-party company said in a memo on its website that operations would cease on Monday “as a means to protect the long-term viability of our company.”
“We are temporarily reducing our staff to just a few associates who will keep the company open until our demo program resumes,” the website announcement reads. “Our hope is that the COVID-19 pandemic passes quickly so that we can continue to provide the highest quality demonstrations and services, at the best value, to Costco Wholesale, its suppliers and its members.”
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Buzzfeed News was first to report CDS’ plans to eliminate staff and temporarily discontinue its work with Costco, with which it has collaborated for 32 years.
A spokesperson for the big-box retailer did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request seeking comment.
CDS did not state how long it intended to cease operations.
The news came shortly after Costco announced it would be shifting CDS employees to roles that involved cleaning warehouses and other facilities, according to the Buzzfeed News report. But the change was ultimately unsustainable.
“Over the past 4 weeks you have all partnered with our CDS teams to increase warehouse sanitation for our members and employees,” wrote Ron Vachris, Costco’s chief operating officer, in a March 30 memo to employees, the outlet reported. “As our traffic in the warehouses has slowed due to various state directives, we will assume these duties with Costco employees effective April 6th.”
Costco eliminated free samples in its stores at the beginning of March in response to the virus outbreak.
Social media users have been quick to respond to the news, both of the loss of samples and the related layoffs.