In just one month, Costco will open up in Idaho Falls.
For years, eastern Idaho has had a curious balance with membership warehouse stores: the Sam’s Club was in Idaho Falls and the Costco was in Pocatello. This was little solace for local Costco fans in Idaho Falls, who would drive those extra miles south to Pocatello just to shop there.
There was much rejoicing by Costco lovers when the company unveiled its plans in April 2019 to open an Idaho Falls store by August 2020.
Costco is known for its loyal workforce. Seventy cents of every revenue dollar goes to wages and its employee turnover is just 7%, compared to 60 to 70% at other retailers, according to the Sloan School of Business at MIT.
The company began advertising for employees at the new store in the Idaho Falls Post Register at the beginning of June. Starting wages were $15 an hour plus medical and dental benefits, paid holidays and paid vacations. Costco is bringing over 100 new jobs into the area.
The new Costco is at the northwest corner of Hitt and Lincoln Roads, in what used to be the tiny farming community of Lincoln fifty years ago. With the opening of the warehouse store, one of the last uncluttered east-west roads in Idaho Falls will see an uptick in traffic.
There is little business development as of yet on Lincoln Road so the new store will be its own oasis of commerce, removed from the heavy locus of retail along 17th Street and S 25th E. The store will be wedged between a trailer park, farm fields and a sand and gravel pit. The city annexed the Lincoln area in 2018.
The new Costco building still looked like a construction project in June with its gray concrete walls going up. Now in mid-July, it looks like a business with its walls completed and the store’s sign installed on the marquee. Construction began in September 2019. According to Bob Cranor, the public relations officer for Idaho Falls, the city is unaware of any delays introduced into the construction schedule by COVID-19.
“There have not been problems with any permits or inspections,” Cranor was quoted in the Idaho State Journal. “Everything from the city’s perspective is still on track with no problems.”
The completed store will be 180,000 square feet on an 18-acre parcel. A separate gas station is also included as part of the facility. The grand opening is scheduled for August 14 at 8 a.m.
The company’s interest in the Idaho Falls area began in 2012. When the city government became aware of Costco’s interest, it motivated the city council to pass an economic development incentive program, which became known as the “Costco ordinance.” The intent of the ordinance was to make the city more attractive to large businesses that could give a boost to the local economy.
According to the Jefferson Star, the incentives included waived fees for building permits and plan reviews, an expedited permitting process, and improvements to streets and other infrastructure next to building sites. Incentive waivers for the Costco project totaled close to $131,000. Costco agreed to invest in sewer and sidewalk improvements. Total capital improvements will total $21 million at and around the site.
Founded in 1983, the Costco is one of the top five largest retailers in the world in sales volume, with $152 billion in sales in the United States alone according to Dunn & Bradstreet. It is beaten out in sales revenue by Amazon and Walmart and is neck-to-neck with the giant-grocery retailer Kroger’s and Home Depot.
Costco did not reply to direct inquires from the Idaho Business Review before going to press.