Locations Update: March 2015

March 4th, 2015 by Kimberly · No Comments

There were a lot of plans submitted this past month and a lot of good news for new Costco locations.  Of course, there’s also the usual amount of complaining from people that don’t want a Costco near them.  There’s one new store opening this month in Canada too.

March Openings:
LÉVIS, QUEBEC, CANADA March 12, 2015

 

Branford, Connecticut

Costco has submitted plans to build a 158,000 square foot warehouse, along with a gas stations, off of I-95 at exit 56 in Branford.  The 44 acre lot borders East Main Street to the north, East Industrial Road to the south, and Leetes Island Road to the west.  The plans include some modifications to the existing traffic signal at the East Industrial Road intersection and Costco plans to install their entranceway to have direct access to Exit 56’s southbound ramps.  The lot where the new Costco will be built is actually made up of five separately owned parcels of land. Three of the parcels are vacant, one of the parcels hosts a shellfish processing facility, and the last one houses an industrial warehouse building.Costco will lease the land associated with its main building and parking lot but the remaining acres will stay in the hands of their current owners.  The land is currently zoned for industrial, so Costco will need to apply to get the zoning changed, but there is another area nearby that has already been rezoned to house a gas station and supermarket.  Of course, there’s already a group of residents that are up in arms about the development, saying that Costco isn’t a good fit for the town or the area where they want to build.  I’d think that an area that houses a shellfish processing plant can’t be all that fancy, so what’s the big deal about adding a Costco?

Tulsa, Oklahoma

The first Costco in Oklahoma took a big step forward recently with the purchase of a parcel of land in Tulsa.  Costco purchased 18.2 acres on the northwest corner of 103rd Street and Memorial Drive.  It seems like they might still be targeting an opening in Fall 2015, but nothing in the article gives a definite date for starting the actual building or when they propose to be open.   The new warehouse will also have a gas station and a liquor store.  Due to liquor laws in Oklahoma, the liquor store will need to be like a separate store with a different entrance and completely closed off from the Costco store.  They have a couple of images with the article that show a map of where the new location will be, as well as an overhead rendering of the site.

Bellingham, Washington

In early February, Costco finally filed for a city building permit in Bellingham for their new store to be located off West Bakerview Road.  This comes after months of negotiations between the city and Fred Meyer Stores.  Fred Meyer and Lummi Nation appealed the city’s preliminary approval of wetlands, stormwater and street modifications along West Bakerview.  Lummi Nation dropped their appeal in July 2014, now with agreements from the city of Bellingham and Costco to build new roads and make improvements in the area to address traffic concerns, Fred Meyer has dropped their appeal as well.  So, it looks like Costco can start moving forward with their plans for a new 162,000 square foot warehouse and 24 pump gas station.  Costco agreed to build two eastbound left-turn lanes on West Bakerview Road near their proposed entrance, as well as a westbound right-turn lane in that area, and extend a westbound left-turn lane that allows drivers to enter the Fred Meyer parking lot.  Costco will also build a five-lane north-south entrance road called Arctic Avenue for the entrance to their store.  This new road will connect up with a new road being built by the city.  Mahogany Avenue, being built by the city, will connect Pacific Highway, which parallels Interstate 5, and Northwest Avenue. The road is supposed to be built by November 2016 and will be funded in part with $3.5 million in federal and state money.  Honestly, it a whole bunch of new roads being built over the next couple of years.  Costco also will need permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology related to wetlands impacts.  Given all the road building and the wetlands stuff, it’s not expected that this new Costco will be open before August 2016.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Costco has plans to build a new store south of Indianapolis, along the Marion-Johnson County line.   The site runs along County Line Road, near Emerson Avenue and Costco will need to get the land on the Marion County side rezoned as commercial before any building can be done.  The new Costco will be built behind the existing Korger, on a site that was once planned to be a Cabela’s store.  A public hearing on rezoning the land for Costco is set for March 12.

Submitted drawings for proposed Napa Costco

Submitted drawings for proposed Napa Costco

Napa County, California

Costco has finally submitted plans for their proposed 150,000 square foot Napa Pipe location.  They changed up the regular design of the building, I guess to make it fit the design guidelines and make it more appealing to the residents in the area.  The proposed design will combine a concrete masonry block and architectural metal panels to minimize the visual impacts of a large retail warehouse.  Of course, there seems to be a lot of grumbling about a Costco going in here, so I’m not sure the design is going to change too many minds.  Aside from site grading and basic works like that, Costco must get a county building permit before it can start constructing the building. Another key is for Napa Redevelopment Partners to secure water for Napa Pipe from the city of Napa.  Napa Pipe is 154 acres along the Napa River at 1025 Kaiser Road. The site is targeted for 700 to 945 residences, parks, trails, a hotel, a senior retirement center, shops.  And hopefully a new Costco.  Since the area used to be very industrial, it doesn’t look great now, with lots of weeds, dirt and asphalt, so certainly a new development would be an improvement.

Auburn, California

I guess all of the legal wrangling between Placer County and the city of Auburn just got to be too much for Costco.  They sent a letter to Placer County in February to terminate their ground lease on the property, the Placer County Government Center, where they were proposing to build a new warehouse.  The one-page letter didn’t offer an explanation for the change of heart, merely asking the county to return $530,000 Costco previously paid as a deposit.   So, it looks like Auburn won’t be getting a new Costco after all, unfortunately.

Ukiah, California

As you may remember, there’s a lawsuit being brought against the proposed Ukiah Costco development by two FoodMaxx grocery store workers alleging issues with the certification of the Environmental Impact Report for the project.  Yeah, seems not more than a bit self-serving, huh?  The lawsuit was filed in May 2014 and has been dragging on a bit since then, but now a hearing has been set for April 17 in Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Jeanine Nadel’s courtroom.   These two FoodMaxx workers wrote a letter to the local paper saying that they’re not against Costco, but they know that there are significant design flaws with the proposed plans.  It makes me wonder why they are working at FoodMaxx if they are such experts in engineering and traffic planning.  In any case, we’ll have to wait to see how this all turns out in April.

Upcoming Holidays:

  • Costco Australia:
    • March 9, 2015:  Locations in Adelaide, Canberra, Ringwood, and Docklands CLOSED.
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Costco US Agrees to Citi Co-Branded Card and Visa Network

March 2nd, 2015 by Kimberly · 12 Comments

Well, all of the speculation about Capital One becoming the new co-branded credit card partner for Costco US was for naught.  Costco announced today that their new card partner will be Citi!  In addition, the new card network will be Visa.   This change to Citi and Visa will take place across all locations in the US and Puerto Rico beginning April 1, 2016.

Citi is the largest issuer of consumer credit cards in the world.  I had heard some rumours that Citi was really wanting to win this deal, so I guess they made a much more persuasive argument than Capital One.  The agreements with Citi and Visa are contingent on the purchase of the existing co-brand credit card portfolio by Citi.  I’m not exactly sure how this transition will work and at this point there are not many details about that process.  Costco says that they will be providing this information in the coming months so that the transition to the new cards go smoothly.

So far Costco has not provided any other details of the co-branded card, just that the new Citi Visa will provide “rewards to Costco members and serve as a membership card”, pretty much the same way as the American Express card currently.  I am anxious to hear what type of rewards they will be giving, but I’m hopeful that it will be as good, if not better, than the American Express TrueEarnings card.

The switch to using Visa as the card network will mean that all Visa cards will be accepted at Costco, not just their co-branded Citi card.  I imagine that will probably come as a relief to all of the people that like to keep the number of cards in their wallet to a minimum since they probably already have a Visa, if they decide not to get the new Citi Visa card.  I imagine that this will also thrill all of the people that were so dead set against having a Capital One card too.

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Costco US Coupon Book: March 5 – 29, 2015

February 27th, 2015 by Kimberly · 6 Comments

I’m sure everyone has been wondering when the new Costco US coupon book starts since there was a bit of a gap between the previous one ending last Sunday.  It turns out that Costco took a week off, but the new Costco US coupon book will be starting on Thursday, March 5, and running through the last Sunday in March, the 29th.  In the coupon this month there’s a nice savings of $1,500.00 in warehouse savings.  This month just about everything in the book is an instant savings deal, you’ll only need the book or app to get $5.00 off transferring home movies to DVD and the photo repair service; so just the coupons for the Costco Photo Center.  There are some really good coupons this month, and certainly lots of coupons for cleaning supplies.

Costco US Coupon Book: March 5 - 29, 2015

Costco US Coupon Book: March 5 – 29, 2015

This month I have uploaded the new Costco US Coupon Book PDF (or view it in the Google PDF viewer) (this is a PDF of what they posted online), or you can view it at the warehouse coupons on the Costco.com website.  If you weren’t aware, Costco has updated their coupon policy for “streamlined savings”.  Basically, that means that you won’t have to clip coupons (if you ever needed to for your location anyway) again, but instead you can just show the cashier the coupon book or the smartphone app to redeem any offers marked with a blue arrow (which will make more sense when you see the coupon book).  You can get the app for either iPhone or Android in their respective app stores.  The only coupons that you must have the app or coupon book to redeem are the ones with the blue arrow, but they are all pretty much instant savings deals lately.  For many, they didn’t have to clip coupons anyway, so this isn’t necessarily all that different.  The one big change is that Costco says that they will no longer have extra copies of the coupon book available at the warehouses.   If you didn’t get your book or never do, you should stop by Customer Service and make sure that they have all of your mailing information correct and that you have allowed them permission to send you things in the mail.  Or, just use the Costco smartphone app.  Lastly, you can also view them on the Costco.com website.  Costco has recently started posting the coupons online and through the app before they actually start (like just a few days after the old ones expire), so that makes it easier and nicer for planning too.

This month, you can get a new set of four Bridgestone tires for $70.00 off.  You can also take advantage of this coupon online at Costco.com.  Costco is giving you a few additional days to use this coupon as well since it lasts until April 8, which is ten days longer than the rest of the coupon book.  This might be a good time to buy tires if you’re planning a road trip for Easter.

If you’re a new, or new-ish, mom or dad, you’ll probably be thrilled to see the coupons for Kirkland Signature Supreme Diapers.  You can save $4.00 off a box of KS Supreme Diapers in sizes 1 – 6.  The good news is that if you need the convenience of delivery to your door, you can get these on Costco.com too.  The bad news is that there’s a limit of just two on this deal.

I will fess up to buying fish sticks but only the Trident Ultimate Fish Sticks (I can’t get them here so I haven’t had any for a few years).  The first time we bought them it was because they lured us in with a demo. And they were so crispy and delicious that we had to get them. The fish sticks are supposed to be better than the usual ones “offering more fish, better fish and less breading” according to Trident. They are certainly some of the best fish sticks I’ve ever had, in any case. They’re made with real, whole fillets of Alaskan Pollock and the breading is the perfect amount so that they cook up perfectly crispy, though we always had to cook them a few minutes longer than the package instructions to get them really crispy. They are good by themselves, but what we always used them for was making fish tacos with fresh tortillas, some lettuce, a bit of avocado, and some tzatziki sauce (all of which you can get at Costco).  I wrote a post about using them for fish tacos way back in April 2008, if you want to see how I used the Ultimate Fish Sticks to create quick and easy fish tacos.  I know that fish sticks are totally a kid food, usually, but the high quality of fish in these definitely turns them into more adult-friendly eating.

There’s also a coupon for $2.80 off a 20 count box of Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches.  I’m not really an ice cream person, and really don’t like the low fat stuff because it is sort of like eating flavored styrofoam to me.  However, these Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches are delicious!  I don’t know if it the cookie part that they use for the sandwich or if their ice cream is just that much better, but these are a delicious treat.  And without a bunch of calories, they’re a pretty guilt-free treat, at that.  The box at Costco comes with 10 vanilla and 10 cookies and cream sandwiches, both flavours have just 150 calories per sandwich.  I’m a purist, I guess, because I have always preferred the vanilla ones.  I don’t know how they manage to keep the calories down though, because these taste as good or better than regular ice cream sandwiches.

I think I’ve said this for a few months running now, but this is a great time to stock up on cleaning and paper supplies.  There are so many coupons for cleaning supplies, I’m not going to list them but if you’re in need you can probably find a deal on the supplies you’ve been wanting.  The one item I will point out, is the deal for $2.00 off the Vanity Fair Napkins.  They have two sizes, dinner (240 count) and everyday (660 count), but either size is great, though I think I lean towards the bigger dinner size.  The napkins are sturdy and won’t fall to pieces when faced with something really messy like burgers or BBQ ribs.  But really, there are coupons for every type of cleaning task, as well as storage bags and containers from Ziploc and Glad, trash bags, and paper towels and toilet paper.

There are so many good coupons this month that I’m going to have to stop myself or I’ll just keep going on and on.  I will just give you a bit of a warning, if this year is anything like the previous years (and they are very consistent), Costco US will not have another coupon book until after Easter.  So you can expect another couple of weeks at the end of March/beginning of April where there aren’t coupons.

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Costco Gas Stations Have Most Competitive Pricing in the US

February 26th, 2015 by Kimberly · 2 Comments

About a week ago, GasBuddy.com announced the findings in their annual survey of the top 100 most competitive gas station prices across the US for 2014.  Just as in 2012 and 2013, Costco led the way as the most competitively priced gas in the nation.  Woot!  Way to go Costco for saving members tons of money on their gas over the last few years!

Each year, GasBuddy surveys nearly 35 million individual gasoline prices and compares each brand’s pump offering (by zip code) to the average price of local competitors. It then tabulates the results, rating each brand by the average discount it delivered versus the average pump prices in its competitive area.  This survey only accounts for gas stations that have 30 or more outlets across the US.  For the GasBuddy survey period, Costco had 395 gas stations.

Save money, fill 'er up at Costco!

Save money, fill ‘er up at Costco!

Since 2012 Costco has been the clear leader in pricing their gas at the best level when compared to other gas stations.  According to the GasBuddy survey, in 2014 Costco’s prices were more than $0.16/gallon lower than their competitors; 16.29 cents/gallon to be precise.  And that discount is even bigger, by about 16%, than their 2013 level of $0.14/gallon less than competitors.  Plus, as customer satisfaction surveys have found in the past, they are always very clean and customers are big fans of the Costco gas stations.  Depending on how much you drive, you could probably make up the cost of a Gold Star membership over the course of a year with that kind of a savings per gallon.

The other warehouse stores, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club, were also quite competitive on their gas prices.  Sam’s Club came in at number five on the list with 10.79 cents per gallon less than competitors.  And right behind at number six, BJ’s had gas prices that were 10.19 cents per gallon less than competitors.  BJ’s is actually the leader in New England where they are the most competitive in the region, offering prices that are $0.12/gallon less than competitors; Costco doesn’t even have enough gas stations in the region to be on the list.  Costco was the low cost leader in all other regions in the US though.

You can view the full list of the Top 100 Most Competitive Brands in USA at GasBuddy.com, or you can view the breakdown by region.

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ACSI Finds Costco Tops for Customer Satisfaction

February 24th, 2015 by Kimberly · No Comments

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) 2014 Retail Report came out last week and it’s good news for Costco.  Costco is once again at the top of the customer satisfaction ratings for specialty retailers.  Since customer satisfaction is so important to retailers, this is an important benchmark to track.  And of course, customer satisfaction is also one of the things that Costco puts a lot of emphasis on, so it is a good gauge for them (and all of us) to see how successful they are in their quest to have the best customer service.

How does shopping at Costco make you feel?

How does shopping at Costco make you feel?

Costco falls into the “Specialty Retail” section of the ACSI report.  This is a sector of retail that they have been tracking since 2001 and covers not only warehouse stores, but home improvement, office supplies, as well as clothing stores.  To determine customer satisfaction, ACSI gathers customer opinions based on a variety of important criteria:  Store layout and cleanliness, Checkout speed, Staff courtesy, Store locations and hours, Sale and promotion frequency, Merchandise variety and selection, Ability to provide brand names, Merchandise availability, Website.  They then use this information to calculate the customer satisfaction rating.  Overall, they track seventeen major specialty retailers, as well as an aggregate of smaller stores in the category.

Costco came out on top of the specialty retailer category this year, again, with a score of 84.  They’ve been pretty steady over the last few years, usually leading the group.  The closest score this year was an 83 for L Brands, which covers Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works.  Their direct competitors were a bit further behind though.  BJ’s Wholesale Club received a ranking of 81, while Sam’s Club scored just 80.  The average customer satisfaction rating for specialty retailers was just 79 for 2014, so all of the warehouse clubs are exceeding that average at least.  The loser in the group was Gap and to be honest, they never do all that well.  I think they’ve been bringing up the rear for pretty much the entire time ACSI has been tracking them.  Home Depot took a bit of a hit with a 3 point drop in their rating and I’m sure it is because of the credit card debacle.

The bad news for all bricks and mortar retailers is that the whole report points to a drop in satisfaction with traditional retailers, and much higher ratings for online retailers. In general, internet retailers have a customer satisfaction benchmark of 82 for 2014, whereas traditional retailers are at just 79, which is down from last year.  For instance, Amazon has an impressive score of 86 this year, and even though that is down 2 points from last year it is still excellent.   I think the only traditional retailer that can match that is Nordstrom, in the department and discount stores category.  And while that is great for Nordstrom, the rest of the category lags well behind at a benchmark of 81 for 2014.

Just because everyone looks at Walmart as the big player in discount stores, I feel it necessary to point out that their customer satisfaction rating is a pathetically low 68 this year, which is down 3 points from last year; well below the average of 77 for their category.  So, they might be a big player but it doesn’t seem like anyone actually likes shopping there.

You can download a full PDF copy of the ACSI Retail Report for 2014 online.  If you just want the bare scores though, you can see exactly how Costco fared against all of the other specialty retailers too.

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