Howdy folks, and welcome back to another edition of Retail News! With the grand opening of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in Houston slowly fading in the mirror, our next big grand opening of the year is coming up. It seems that the Houston area’s first Costco Business Center, is nearly ready to open. We first learned the chain had eyes on Houston in April of this year, and we now have the planned October 20th grand opening date within reach. Checking the store out over the previous weekend, I found refrigerated trailers which were likely delivering fresh groceries, which is normally the final section stocked prior to a store opening. Let me take a moment to discuss some observations I have made in researching the chain.
Costco Business Center, is not the same as a regular store. The selection is more focused towards, restaurants, C-Stores, and other independent retailers. Costco has removed certain departments, mostly to make room for an expanded grocery selection, many non-standard items are featured as well. For example, instead of electronics, you can find industrial kitchen equipment. Margarita Machines, and Flat Top Grills on half height display shelves, the boxes stocked beneath. Not unlike the TV’s and other electronics in a normal warehouse. The expanded grocery selection mostly appeals to the food service industry, with items like liquid eggs, large quantities of semi-butchered meat, and retail package of snacks and sodas. Throughout the grocery selection, you do find some “consumer level” warehouse specific items, like 100 pouch boxes of fruit snacks, or 2 liter bottles of mouthwash. However, don’t expect to find any specialty departments at these stores. This applies to anything from the Optical to Pharmacy or Tire Center, to Gas Station, and as far as I know, these locations also don’t feature a food court. Despite all this, these stores are open to anyone with a Costco membership, and should be able to provide adequate grocery selection, but we’ll see how they fare in a future post!
Interestingly, there was a Sam’s Club Business Center prototype off of Westheimer (converted from a regular store) that didn’t do nearly as well and closed within a year. Just thought that should be mentioned.