Business

Costco customers new and old welcome Lexington store opening

Christina Carneal, right, helped customers Chase Eldridge, left and Michael Bedrick, center, during a grand opening at Costco in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 18, 2013. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff
Christina Carneal, right, helped customers Chase Eldridge, left and Michael Bedrick, center, during a grand opening at Costco in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 18, 2013. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff Lexington Herald-Leader

Two of the happiest customers at the Costco Wholesale opening Friday morning were those who already had Costco memberships and finally had a Lexington store at which to use them.

"I've been to both Sam's Club and Costco. There's no comparison," said Michael Bost. "I've been driving to Louisville. I am treated like I'm an owner. I can drive here instead of having to drive five places."

Indeed, the warehouse store features a variety that included misted Dungeness crabs on ice at one end and tires and diamond engagement rings on the other. In between is a raft of goods including the 80-inch television that was one of the first items to be checked out at the new store.

Cindy Greening of Lexington used to make a Costco run when her job took her to Louisville. On Friday, she was Christmas shopping for her 5-year-old son Charlie, "who wants to grow up to be a Power Ranger."

"I appreciate the quality of their items and their service," Greening said.

But others were buying more typical small-business items: no-slip hangers, multi-packs of Clorox bleach, shrink-wrapped toilet paper in behemoth packs.

One of the most popular viewing spots at the new store is the handbag table, which showcases bags from Louis Vuitton ($1,199), Prada ($1,769) and Balenciaga ($1,399). Should you buy one, Costco also sells a safe in which to store it.

The Costco store has had a bang-up opening so far: 4,284 people visited the store's open house between 6-8 p.m. on Thursday night, in which free food samples were given out but no sales were made. Store manager Jeff Stohlmann said that although 1,300 Lexington-area residents already had cards before the store was built, an additional 3,216 had signed up as of Friday morning.

Costco has 159,000 square feet and will employ 190.

At Thursday night's preview opening, the store parking lot was full, and drivers were parking on nearby streets and along curbs in the parking lot itself. Police were directing traffic around the store's Fitzgerald Drive and Man o' War Boulevard location in the Hamburg area.

Given the crowds that have swamped the store so far, Stohlmann said, "I wish I would have doubled the size of the the parking lot."

The store includes a gas station, bakery, fresh meat and produce, deli, optical department, one-hour photo, pharmacy, tire center, hearing-aid center, wine and liquor, and food court. Membership fees are $55 a year for a basic individual or business membership, with an additional $55 annually for an "Executive Membership," which comes with an annual 2 percent reward on qualified Costco purchases.

Sam's Club on New Circle Road, the city's other warehouse club, has indicated that it won't have any special offers during Costco's opening.

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