Costco Moves Shelf Snacks Around To Lead Customers On 'Treasure Hunts'

When you bought a delectable limited edition Costco snack last week, you might have noted that your new favorite treat was stocked next to the potato chips. But now it's today, you're staring at the section your dessert should be in, and the Kirkland exclusive eat has seemingly pulled an A-class disappearing act. If you find this happens to you frequently on your Costco trips, your mind isn't playing tricks on you. Because one employee in a Reddit thread reported that the ever-changing location of some of Costco's shelved items' isn't only confusing to customers. It turns out, many associates also aren't completely sure where everything in the store is.

But while you may find Costco's tendency to rearrange its stock a hassle, according to Reader's Digest, the company urges you to consider it something a lot more adventurous. In fact, it likens your hunt for your missing snack to a pirate's never-ending mission to strike gold. So get your eye patch ready, because we're going to tell you what Costco's treasure hunt business model is actually about.

The truth behind Costco treasure hunts

Filled with countless shelves overflowing with goods, Costco's stores can be visually overwhelming. And as Insider reports, the wholesale retailer's cluttered look is no accident. According to the outlet, Costco stores are formatted to have customers come into contact with as many products as possible. And the bulk retailer has plenty of tricks for making sure shoppers get a good look at (and feel more inclined to buy) its extensive stock.

As a TikTok video notes, one of Costco's most well-known methods for getting shoppers to spend more time perusing the aisles is keeping its iconically cheap rotisserie chickens at the back of the store. And, according to Reader's Digest, the retailer's treasure hunt business model is another way it gets its customers to see and purchase more products.

As the same outlet notes, by moving around its specialty and seasonal items (store staples, like produce, stay in the same place according to Insider) Costco implores its customers to go a-searching for their constantly-moving Kirkland's snack. As a result, the store ensures consumers are exposed to other products — or, as its website puts it, find more deals. But, what if you've never pegged yourself as the swashbuckling type? Is there a way to save money and avoid the treasure hunt trap?

How to eschew the treasure hunt

If you don't think you can handle the temptation of happening upon shiny, limited-edition Kirkland goods, don't fret. Because one former Costco employee reported on Reddit that there is a method to the way the bulk retailer handles its treasure hunt. And memorizing it may prevent you from bringing home some unplanned snacks.

According to the employee, all of its specialty items (like those delectable pumpkin spice snacks) usually start out in the seasonal section before ending up on an end cap or migrating to a fence. Eventually, if the season passes and they aren't sold out, a product will end its life in a "normal" store section. However, it is important to note that the same former Costco associate did report that this is an "oversimplification" of the process. However, the advice can still act as a general guide for how you go about finding your coveted items.

For example, when you go searching for flowers — like the Valentine's Day bouquet of 50 red roses on the company's website — that you swore were next to the chocolate, your best bet is to scour the end caps and fences with purpose and skip aimlessly searching the aisles. But while this will surely cut down on the number of products you're exposed to in your mission to find a missing item, we can't guarantee you still won't end up putting a new bottle of wine you never knew you needed in your cart.