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First Costco Wholesale opens exactly 40 years ago today

Exactly 40 years ago, on Sept. 15, 1983, the very first Costco warehouse opened in Seattle on 4th Avenue South.

According to History Link, the warehouse concept was originally pioneered by Price Club in San Diego in 1976.

Price Club offered small businesses access to foods, tires, cosmetics, and other goods at just 8% to 9% over retail.

With an annual membership fee between $25 and $35, Price Club offered about 4,000 items for sale and didn’t advertise.

In 1983, former wholesale distributor Jim Sinegal and an attorney Jeffrey H. Brotman opened the first Costco warehouse.

An ad from the Sept. 14, 1983, The Tacoma News Tribune showed the store opened at 10 a.m. They only accepted cash or check.

The ad described Costco as “a 100,000 square-foot Wholesale Cash and Carry Membership Warehouse. Members will be entitled to purchase a wide variety of nationally branded, first quality merchandise at true wholesale prices.”

“We pay warehouse rents,” the ad said. “We have cement floors and opened ceilings. No Frills!”

The ad promised ‘dramatic savings’ on such items as watches, sundries, typewriters, calculators, and cigarettes.

The second was in Portland, the third in Spokane.

In 1993, Costco merged with Price Club, after Price Club refused a merger with Walmart.

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