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The Costco Smiley Face Manifesto

When my children were little — little as in small enough to sit in the front basket of the cart in Costco — the Costco employee at the exit door always drew a smiley face on the back of the receipt.


It has been years since I thought about the hand drawn smiley face on the back of a Costco receipt. My  children don’t fit in the cart anymore. The last time they were handed a receipt with a smiley face was eleven years ago. They are old enough to stay home alone when I go to Costco to buy cat litter.

I wonder if  drawing smily faces on the back of receipts is part of the training for new Costco employees?

This is how you draw a smile. Big circle, a curved line for a smile, and two dashes for eyes. Oh, and, stop drawing smiles when the children can no longer fit in the front basket of the cart.

A mother was ahead of me in line today when I was leaving Costco with forty-two pounds of cat litter, forty-eight cans of cat food, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce.  Her child sat in the front basket of the cart holding out the receipt to the Costco employee, Susie. Suzie drew a smile on the back of the receipt, and handed it back to the child.

The child clutched the receipt in her hand as her mother pushed the cart out the front door, clearly delighted with her drawing.

Now it was my turn to hand the Costco employee my receipt.

I wanted a smiley face too.

There was no one behind me in the line to leave the building. I wouldn’t be making anyone wait if I asked for a smiley face.

 “Please draw a smiley face on the back of my receipt.”

“Are you sure? I don’t get many requests for smiley faces from adults.”

“Yes, please. I would love a smiley face. An original piece of art by Suzie.”

Suzie smiled and drew a smiley face on the back of my receipt.

And if you saw me walk out of Costco pushing my shopping cart full of cat litter, you would have seen a woman with gray hair clutching her receipt, clearly delighted with her drawing.

The Smiley Face Manifesto

Everyone Needs A Smiley Face On The Back Of Their Costco Receipt

“twice I have lived forever in a smile”

― E.E. Cummings

Costco has to draw a line through the items purchased on the receipt, perhaps they could just draw smiley faces instead?

Do Costco employees only draw smiley faces on children’s receipts because they think they can’t draw? Do they think an adult will laugh at their drawing ability.

Everyone is an artist. Everyone can draw.

There is power in a smiley face. The smiley face has the power to bring joy to all Costco costumers.

If Costco draws smiley faces on all receipts then children never have to go through the trauma of aging out of the smiley face program.

Did you experience the pain of growing up when the Costco employee no longer drew smiley faces on your receipt because they thought you were too old?

Do you think Costco should draw smiley faces on the back of all receipts and not just for children?

I would love to know what you think. Please share your thoughts in the comments, or reply directly to this email.



About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Emilia

    I think it is a great idea. You should sell that idea to Cosco. I bet it would make customers happy, and they could get more business. I am always amazed by the amount of money companies pay to get innovative ideas when most of these ideas are out there–we only need to be creative! Creativity is what creates innovation and this is for free.

    • Hello Emilia,
      Costco might like the idea. Some of the stores already do it, but just for children.
      Maybe if every store in the whole world put smiley faces on their receipts there would no more joy in the world.
      Thank you for stopping by.