#SupportCostco and #BoycottCostco trend with shoppers polarized about Costco’s mandatory mask policy
Twitter was abuzz with two conflicting trends on Friday, May 8. There were those who wanted to “Boycott Costco”, and there were those who were standing to “Support Costco”. But why were people fighting over a multi-billion dollar global retailer?
Well, for one, a week ago, Costco announced that it would require all shoppers to wear a mask or face covering “that covers the mouth and nose at all times” while in their stores across the U.S. Only those under the age of two are exempt from the policy. It’s a policy that is in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines: In public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, like grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission, people are required to wear masks or face coverings.
But that’s not all. A photo that has been going viral on the internet in the last couple of days shows a screengrab of a message posted on Costco’s Facebook page from a woman called Sharon who seemed unhappy with the mask policy. A response from an account called Costco Wholesale in the comments sarcastically reads: “Thank you for taking such a brave stand, Sharon. We look forward to the documentary they will make about you someday.”
It wasn’t a real Costco account, rather it was the handiwork of a 33-year-old comedian in Los Angeles named Ben Palmer. "Usually there’s a decent amount of people who know it’s not real but this time it seems like it’s a larger amount of people who think it’s real," he told Buzzfeed News.
The combined effect of the stipulation and the viral photo has polarized the internet about their stance on Costco. Mostly, however, it would seem that the supporters of Costco also hijacked the boycott trend (that had more than 6,000 tweets at the time of writing this). “I #supportCostco because they pay their employees well and provide benefits. I would not #boycottcostco because I’m not a stupid, selfish p***k. I care about my countrymen and women and if wearing a mask can protect my fellow Americans I’ll do it,” wrote a user, outlining what the trend mainly encapsulated.
"I'm actually really glad the MAGAts have decided to #boycottcostco. It will make my shopping experience that much nicer. Thanks, ya'll! You are truly helping America be great by allowing the rest of us to enjoy your absence as much as possible,” wrote another. A user, on a similar note, wrote on Twitter, “Shoutout to Costco and Trader Joe's (and all their great employees) for helping feed me during this pandemic. You won yourselves a loyal lifetime customer. To anyone who's Team #boycottcostco, go ahead! More food, toilet paper, and oxygen for me then,” before hashtagging it with “natural selection”.
A Twitter user noted the hypocrisy of boycotting Costo and wrote, “So you want companies to have the right to decide who gets a wedding cake because YOUR LIBERTY but don’t want Costco to have the right to mandate masks on their property? Is the Constitution like the Bible… you pick parts only when convenient to your opinion?”
The absurdity of the boycotter was captured in one tweet: “You know, it's not like Costco is asking you for a pint of blood or to surrender your firstborn child. They're just asking you to wear a mask. It doesn't HURT you. And it may just help others, even if only to give them a sense of peace and security. Grow up!”
Journalist and writer Blake Morgan, in her Forbes column ‘Costco’s Mask Requirement Reminds Businesses The Customer Is Not Always Right,’ added, “I am grateful businesses are not succumbing to customers that are ready for life to simply go back to normal before this pandemic disappears. I don’t want to be exposed simply because a few others were annoyed they had to wear a mask.”