New York Councilman Giving Costco Hard Time About Food Stamps

Costco does not accept food stamps, and that makes a New York councilman angry:

“Costco in general has a reputation of being a socially conscious company,” said Eric N. Gioia, a city councilman from Queens who last year began a campaign asking Costco to accept food stamps after discovering it did not during the “live on food stamps for a week” stunt. “There is no logical reason for someone not to accept food stamps. It is not only compassionate, but it’s good for their bottom line.”

Specifically, Mr. Gioia points to the Costco on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens, in his district. First opened in 1996, the store is within walking distance for nearly 30,000 residents of three public housing projects: the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Homes. “This is their best chance of eating healthy wholesome food at deep discounts,” Mr. Goia said. “And so in this particular case, it’s an especially glaring omission not to accept food stamps.”

Costco’s response?

According to Mr. Gioia’s office, executives at Costco told the office that they declined to accept food stamps for three reasons.

  1. They did not think they would qualify based on the federal government requirements.
  2. It was too expensive to adapt their equipment to accept food stamps.
  3. With their annual fee/bulk-purchase model, people on food stamps probably could not shop there anyway.

The article goes on to poke holes in Costco’s reasoning for not accepting food stamps.

I can’t help but think Costco is just trying to keep out the riffraff, since their average customer supposedly makes $75,000. Maybe they’re worried about increased theft, maybe about their current customers not wanting the riffraff (though I don’t usually think Costco customers look like the cream of the crop), or whatever. The article makes that same argument, at least a little bit:

Costco, which has created an image that has both upscale and downscale appeal, has been known for attracting the elite (at least in Washington). But perhaps Costco is more wary of the other end of the spectrum, finding western Queens appealing for its real estate, but not for its customer base.

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