Costco’s history in Seattle

The very first Costco location is still in operation on Fourth Avenue.


Bet you didn’t know our Costco was so special.

Photo via Shutterstock

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This time of year we’re spending a lot of time in stores — whether gift shopping for loved ones, prepping for big holiday meals, or getting something special for ourselves (we deserve it).

But did you know that the first-ever Costco launched right here in Seattle? Let’s talk about it.

Fast facts

  • Costco is in 14 different countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia, China, Spain, Portugal, France, Iceland, New Zealand, and Sweden.
  • As of 2023, it has ~127.9 million members and a revenue of $237.7 billion.
  • It has ~310,000 employees worldwide.
  • It’s headquartered in Issaquah. You can see open positions on its website.

The beginnings

The first Costco location opened in 1983 on Fourth Avenue South — across the street from where its current SODO location is. It started as a warehouse offering small businesses a variety of low-cost, bulk goods. In 1985, Costco opened its first hot dog stand and opened up to the average consumer by the end of the year.

In 1993, Costco merged with Price Club (which opened its first location in 1976 in San Diego).

Modern day + innovation

Costco was founded with a plan to offer quality products at reduced costs by eliminating the “frills” generally associated with shopping centers. They also introduced their membership-based model that helped keep prices down further. These methods paved the way for this retail and inspired stores like Sam’s Club and Restaurant Depot.

We’re special, though

While Costco has become a major worldwide brand (it’s popular in Asia for its West Coast vibes), we’re lucky to have a pretty unique set-up here in the Seattle area.

We get to test drive a lot of new products. For example, the location in Issaquah is home to the company’s first sushi counter in mainlaind USA. The Kirkland brand is also named after our eastside town that held Costco’s first headquarters (which makes us kinda famous).

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