Costco in Kenosha, Wisconsin

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Costco in Kenosha, Wisconsin

By Steve Frenda - 01/15/2019

For more than 40 years, Costco has been known as the pioneer of the “treasure hunt.” I’d suggest today we’d modernize that term to call it “experiential retail.” The model surely has withstood the test of time.

For its first quarter of fiscal 2019, Costco’s sales increased 10.3%. U.S. same-store sales, excluding fuel, increased 8.3%. And that’s not to mention that more people paid to shop at Costco’s global footprint of 768 warehouses. First-quarter membership fee income was up 9.5%. Also, e-commerce sales grew 26.2% and now account for nearly 5% of the company’s total sales.

In 2019, Costco will open nearly 20 more warehouses in the U.S. Not a bad track record for a chain that first opened in a vacant aircraft hangar in 1976. The store I visited in Kenosha opened within the last three years. In addition to what you would expect, I found a few new twists.

  • What would a trip to Costco be without being greeted upon entry by some of the most spectacular TVs available? The 75-inch Samsung QLED TV on display was impressive.
  • Costco is known for its eight to 10 demo stations –  with a focus on food during prime hours. My Pillow had a prime location on sample row. In a departure from the typical Costco approach, this “sampler” was not employed by a merchandising company, but rather by My Pillow. He has spent more than a year moving to various Costco stores across the country.
  • As I proceeded through the electronics area, I saw an elegant appliance island on the main aisle – with an array of kitchen and laundry appliances featuring LG, GE and Samsung.
  • A new, major pillar in the Costco shopper-focused effort is heavily promoting Costco.com and home delivery across CPG and all durable goods. This sign also highlights the expanded selection and exclusive promotions.
  • As I proceeded on the perimeter, I sensed an increased commitment to fresh – produce and bakery. I was struck by the reliance on produce from national suppliers, which seems to run counter to most supermarkets, which have increased their efforts to locally sourced.

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