If you’ve ever set your heart on owning a 200-litre barrel of extra virgin olive oil, 50-pound bags of of carrots, or a three-kilogram bucket of Nutella, then Edmonton’s new Costco Business Centre is the place to get it.
The 127,000-square-foot store just north of Stony Plain road at 10310 186 St. carries bulk quantities of food and items geared towards small businesses such as restaurants and convenience stores.
The business centre has thousands of products not found at traditional warehouses, said Marc-André Bally, the vice president of business centres and ancillary businesses for Costco Wholesale Canada.
“You’ll see that 70 per cent of the items that we sell is different and unique to what you would see in any of the other Costcos around,” Bally said at Tuesday’s grand opening.
While there is some overlap of food items between regular Costcos, the business centre does not carry clothes, have a pharmacy or the beloved food court.
“There’s no hot dog, there’s no pop,” Bally said with a chuckle. “It’s a little different. What we sell is very limited categories. But the categories that we’re in, we’re very deep.
“So you won’t see any TVs, you won’t see any apparel or jewellery and stuff like that. But you will see huge selection of cheeses, of meats, of produce, of frozen goods that you normally wouldn’t see in your local Costco.”
There’s flats of soda pop, huge cuts of meat — or in the case of lamb, the entire animal — along with bulk dry goods, an extensive dairy section, and produce by the box full.
“Pack sizes are somewhat larger, but not outrageous,” Bally said.
The store also sells commercial and household appliances such as grills, mixers and fridges, and restaurant supplies like coffee carafes, giant stock pots, hotel pans and condiment squeeze bottles by the dozen.
Need a cash register, paper towel dispenser or cleaning supplies? The business centre has it.
While the warehouse caters to small businesses, all Costco card holders are welcome to shop at the new location. Members Jim and Betty Connelly were the first people in line on Tuesday morning.
“It’s a different concept of what Costco normally does,” Jim said. “So we’re just here to take a peek and see what they have in the aisles.”
The couple was eager to see how the new location compares to the others they’ve visited around the world.
“I think it’s smaller than some of the ones that we’ve seen” he said, adding they’ve been to Costco warehouses in England, Scotland, the United States and of course, and Canada.
“We’ve been to a lot of them, from Halifax to Frankfurt.”
“He has to check out every Costco,” Betty chimed in good-naturedly. “He’s addicted.”
“I don’t check out every one … but I check out a few,” Jim retorted.
The couple said while it was curiosity that brought them to the store on opening day, they hope COVID-19 restrictions will ease up in the summer so they can shop for larger gatherings.
“We were looking to try and do a family reunion this summer and some stuff in here we’ll probably be able to pick up,” Jim explained.
The Edmonton location is the the fourth Costco business centre in Canada, and the first in the west: the other three are in the Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal areas and all have opened since 2017. A fifth Canadian business center is set to open in St. Catharines, Ont. this month.
Costco had been working on the business centre in Edmonton for more than three years, Bally said. The $6.8-million project received its building permit on Nov. 28, 2019.
The new location created 140 jobs initially, but that is anticipated to grow.
“If we look at our our first building, our first business centre that opened four years ago in Toronto, in Scarborough, we now have well over 325 employees,” Bally said.
“So we believe that the number will grow as the business grows.”
That’s news Ward 1 city councillor Andrew Knack is excited to hear — not just for the jobs at the warehouse, but the ripple effect it will create in the area.
“Any time you see a Costco opening up, you always see a lot of development spurt around it,” Knack said. “We have a major industrial community of businesses here in the west end and I think this will help continue some of the development that we’re seeing in and around the area.”
“I think that’s something we really need to celebrate at a time when there’s been a lot of businesses that have been struggling.
“Having a new business opening up, employing new people is something we really need to acknowledge and (I’m) very excited to see.”
The operating hours are catered to businesses: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The Costco offers next-day delivery to businesses in the Edmonton region, including Leduc, Nisku, Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, north of St. Albert to the Morinville area, and to communities within an=about an hour’s drive east and northeast of the city, according to a map on the company’s website.
“We have a fleet of trucks with our own drivers and our own trucks. You can go on our website and if you place your order by 3 p.m., you will get your delivery the next day,” Bally explained.
This is the eighth Costco in the Edmonton area.
Another Costco Wholesale store already operates along Winterburn road in the Granville neighbourhood in west Edmonton, just seven kilometres away from the business centre.
There’s also locations in the city’s northwest, northeast and southeast, along with locations in St. Albert, Sherwood Park and Nisku.
“We have very loyal members here and there’s a big pool of businesses that we think we can cater with this new concept,” Bally said.
— With files from Allison Bench, Global News
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