Call it irrational exuberance, maybe. But confirmation earlier in October that the retail giant had started paperwork to obtain a building permit for a Bradenton area wholesale warehouse prompted a buzz in the community, reflected in a storm of social-media comments.
Everything from “Yaaaaas!! Costco pizza!” to “My dream is coming true!!!”
So, what does the impending advent of Costco mean to local consumers?
Costco plans to build a new wholesale warehouse — the company doesn’t call them stores — at 7433 Grand Harbour Parkway, Heritage Harbour.
The brightly lit, impeccably clean warehouses with bare concrete walls and tall ceilings offer a vast selection of inventory, ranging from tire and auto to clothing, jewelry and accessories, electronics and computers, furniture, food and household items, pharmacy and more.
Costco’s Kirkland Signature label is a house brand for everything from cereal and olive oil to dress shirts and vitamins.
“Yet, our high-quality items are still priced lower than brand-name equivalents, often more than 20 percent less,” company literature says.
No timetable has been announced, but a 2019 opening seems likely, when the messiest part of construction of the Interstate 75-State Road 64 diverging diamond is completed.
Once Costco starts construction of its warehouses, they go up quickly — sometimes in less than four months.
The company rigidly adheres to its policy of not commenting on its plans until its new warehouses are within 90 days of opening.
Here’s what Bradenton area residents can expect for the first-of-its-kind store in Manatee County:
▪ Costco is a membership warehouse club. Memberships are available online and in Costco stores, starting at $60 a year.
▪ Costco is a wholesale warehouse store. A 155,294-square-feet retail facility is proposed for the Bradenton area.
▪ One of the most popular features at the store are the free food samples that many say are among the best and most generous in the industry.
The Costco closest to Bradenton is at Westfield Sarasota Square, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, which opened in 2012.
“I like that type of shopping — no frills,” Costco customer Jacqueline Jorgensen said as she waited outside the Sarasota store this week. “The products are good. I like the grocery department. The gasoline station is easy to use, straight in and straight out, and close to where I live.”
Fred Armstrong was waiting outside for his wife to finish her shopping.
“I like the idea of getting a hot dog for $1.50 and a drink. I like the prices in general. As an example, I am wearing a pair of contact lenses. The price was $73. Anywhere else they would be $150 to $200,” Armstrong said.
“The nice thing about Costco is that you buy in bulk and don’t have to run to the store every day. My wife likes their meat department, and the quality is very good.”
Andy Carrano spent his career working in supermarkets and appreciates Costco’s customer service.
“If you are willing to buy large quantities, they have the best price. Secondly, they sell quality under their own label,” he said.
Carrano also likes the company’s food sample tradition.
“It’s a great way for people to get to know the product,” Carrano said.
Finally, he likes the added value of having a Costco Visa credit card and its cash-back feature.
Recommendations? Try the bakery department, especially the large apple pies.
The developers of The Landing at Heritage Harbour, where the Costco wholesale warehouse is proposed, had until April 17, 2018, to complete the project. Site development was underway when the permit expired several months ago. The developer has since returned to Manatee County government to renew the permit, which is working its way through the review process.
A temporary permit number for the Costco project has been created, but to date there has been no permit applications for the Heritage Harbour location.