Costco Wholesale is returning to its roots.
The membership-only warehouse club has opened its first Costco Business Centre in Canada to reconnect with business owners — the segment its business was founded around more than 30 years ago.
The 127,000 square-foot store in Scarborough features none of the hallmarks of traditional Costco warehouses, such as a pharmacy, optical centre, TVs or apparel. Its operating hours – 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends – are also designed specifically for business customers.
The store also boasts a fleet of six delivery trucks, offering delivery within a 24-kilometre radius of the store. According to Costco Business Centre Canada vice-president Marc-André Bally, there are some 75,000 businesses within 30 minutes of the store.
Approximately 80% of the store’s products are unique, including everything from commercial appliances to a $5,500 hot dog cart and a $4,600 refrigerator unit. Grocery items are also sold at scale, including a 1.88 kg tin of Pantry Shelf chunk light tuna or six 2.84 L tins of whole kernel corn from Bonduelle Food Service ($34.99).
Other grocery items include a 10kg container of feta cheese, a 120 kg barrel of kalamata olive halves, $200 boxes of lobster tails and scallops and a 10-lb bag of rye bread. “That’s what we want to sell,” says Bally, holding up the bread. “That’s a true Costco Business Centre item.”
Bally estimates 90% of the store’s approximately 3,000 SKUs are sourced from Canadian suppliers, predominantly in Ontario and Quebec.
Costco first introduced the Business Centre approach in the U.S. about 20 years ago, and the format has grown to 14 stores in markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Bally says the company could open between 10-15 Business Centres in Canada within the next decade.