UPDATED: Costco opens
Shoppers enthused about having a more convenient location
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Friday, Oct 25, 2013 03:15 pm
Giant stuffed teddy bears and bulk grocery items filled the carts of many shoppers who came out for the early opening of St. Albert’s Costco on Thursday morning.
The store opened its doors to the public at 8 a.m. By that time, more than 50 shoppers had already been waiting for half an hour.
Many of them said the new store is more conveniently located, and allows them to avoid the full parking lots and crowded aisles of other Costco warehouses in the Edmonton region.
“I think there are going to be less people now,” said John Van Domselaar, a St. Albert resident who visited the store with his wife Terry. “In the other Costcos you have all the other communities coming in. So this is good for us.”
With about 149,000 square feet, the St. Albert store is the largest Costco in Western Canada. The second largest one, with about 145,000 square feet, is the west Edmonton warehouse.
The St. Albert Costco is the 86th location in Canada and the sixth in the Edmonton region. It offers more than 4,000 products, as well as a gas bar, a propane station and a liquor store.
"We've been very anxious to open here and we have a lot of existing members in the St. Albert area," said store manager Earle Genik. "It's just important for us to be here. It's an excellent market, it's a good market for us.”
The new warehouse offers many of the same specialty departments found in the six other nearby locations, such as a bakery, a fresh meat counter, a selection of dairy, fruit and vegetable products, a pharmacy and a photo and tire centre.
The store also sells a wide choice of consumer items, such as furniture, electrical appliances, jewelry and seasonal Christmas items.
Ron Damiani, spokesperson for Costco Canada, said the company makes profit from selling a limited selection of discounted items at a fast pace.
Nothing in the store can cost more than 14 per cent above the wholesale price, he added, with much of Costco’s profit coming from membership sales.
“Basically, if it costs us a hundred dollars we can only sell it for $114,” he said.
He added that the store moved into St. Albert because the community has a strong membership base that – until now – had depended on shopping at other locations outside of the city.
Being avid gardeners and strong believers in shopping locally, the Van Domselaars said the St. Albert warehouse now allows them to spend most of their money in St. Albert.
“It used to be that you have to leave St. Albert to shop but now it’s getting to the point where we can spend our dollars in the community,” said John. “That’s what we like about it.”
Another shopper, Lynn Martin, agreed with the couple. She said she has no reason to shop in Edmonton anymore, and prefers to stay in St. Albert.
But it wasn’t only locals who visited the store on Thursday morning. Pavlo Polinchuk came from Edmonton to buy breakfast food for one of his daughter’s birthdays.
The St. Albert and Sherwood Park stores are about the same distance from his house but he came to the St. Albert location because it’s a little bigger.
Gibbons resident Denise Towpich took the morning off to visit the store. She said she used to go to a Costco in Edmonton because she works in that city but she prefers shopping closer to home.
“If I don’t want to travel into the city it’s right here so it’s very convenient,” she said.
Based on a recent retail demand study (to be published at the end of the year), it is not surprising that the store is a “dream come true” for local residents, said Guy Boston, executive director of St. Albert's economic development team.
“Many, many residents said they wanted this type of retail in St. Albert. A Costco by brand name was specifically mentioned,” he said. “Obviously what that brings is that people that were leaving St. Albert to go shopping are now obviously going to stay.”
But Costco will also draw new customers from outside of the city, which will benefit smaller businesses in the community, said Lynn Carolei, chair of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce.
“The more people that come to shop here, the more will stay here and will eat in our restaurants, buy gas and shop locally,” she said.
The new warehouse is open to members only. Shoppers can purchase a Costco membership at the store.
Store hours are Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. St. Albert’s Costco is located at 1075 St. Albert Trail.