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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Open arms: Lexington gets ready to welcome the second Kentucky Costco wholesale store

Costco is the nation's favorite place to buy gas, according to the retailer's Facebook page. (Photo from Facebook)

Many Costco stores around the nation sell gas. (Photo from Facebook)

“Lexington has opened their arms to us,” said Aaron Davis, assistant warehouse manager of the new Costco opening its doors in Hamburg Oct. 18.
Davis was speaking both personally and professionally.
The Michigan native, who’s worked with Costco for 13 years, said he and his family “happily moved down here” in June to help oversee construction of the second Kentucky location for the leading discount retailer. Costco’s first store in the state opened in Louisville in 2006.

“It was a great move for all of us,” said Davis. “You (Kentuckians) are so genuinely nice.”
For the first two weeks or so, his family wondered why the people of Central Kentucky were so friendly. “We wondered ‘what do these people want,’” Davis said, adding that he and his wife finally decided Kentuckians were “just good human beings.”
The retailer experienced the same kind of acceptance, he said, at the store.
“The community as a whole was very excited that we’re coming,” Davis said, adding that the store has already tried to return the favor by hiring more than 150 employees, donating 450 backpacks with school supplies to a local program, and supporting local vendors whenever possible. Lexington’s Costco plans to feature and promote Kentucky Proud products and produce from local farmers.
There’s also a joint project with Big Ass Fans, the details of which will be released later in October.
Costco corporation has a longstanding relationship, said Davis, with Children’s Miracle Network and local children’s hospitals in each community a store is located typically benefit from matching programs in excess of $30,000 a year.
The Lexington Costco will include a state-of-the-art pharmacy with the latest in technology, equipment and user-friendly layout. In the past, said the assistant manager, Costco pharmacists have had to leave their member standing alone while they went in the back to retrieve medications. In the new Hamburg store, there will be “better member service” because the pharmacy layout allows for medication retrieval without the pharmacist leaving the front desk.

The first Costco store opened 30 years ago in Seattle. (Photo from Facebook)

The first Costco store opened 30 years ago in Seattle. (Photo from Facebook)

The new store at the corner of Polo Club and Man ‘o War Boulevard across I-75 from Hamburg Pavilion will throw a public VIP party the night before its official opening. The public can walk through the store Thursday, Oct. 17, from 6-8 p.m. and sample refreshments from the Costco delicatessen.
The official ribbon cutting with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray will be at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18.
Costco is a membership retailer not unlike Walmart’s Sam’s Club. There are basically two types of memberships available for an annual fee: a Business or Goldstar membership is $55 and an Executive membership is $110. Membership allows the consumer to purchase goods at the retailer’s normally discounted price. Executive membership provides an annual 2 percent reward on purchases and a number of other benefits such as roadside assistance and travel discounts.
Davis said the new store already has more than 2,000 members who have signed up online. He expects that number to quadruple by the Oct. 18 opening.
Onsite memberships will be available for purchase beginning Monday, Oct. 7, at a work trailer in the parking lot located off Polo Club Boulevard. Customers who purchase memberships onsite between Oct. 7 and Oct. 17 will receive a cash card bonus of $10 for Goldstar members and $20 for Executive members.
Davis said he and corporate officers expect the Lexington store to be so successful that they are already scouting locations for additional Kentucky stores.
Costco hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The first members-only discount warehouse opened in San Diego in 1976 in a converted airplane hangar under the name Price Club. In 1983, the first store called Costco opened in Seattle, becoming the first retailer to grow from $0 to $3 billion in sales in under six years. In 1993, Price Club and Costco merged and report annually more than $64 billion in sales.