Costco is a multinational retail corporation with a presence in several countries worldwide. It is renowned for offering affordable and high-quality products to its members, ranging from groceries to electronics, clothing, and more. With over 800 warehouses worldwide, Costco is among the largest retail corporations globally. However, some of its locations are unique and distinct from the others. From the remote part of Alaska to the bustling cities of Tokyo and Melbourne, Costco has a presence in some of the most diverse locations on the planet.
Here are ten of the most unusual Costco locations around the world.
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1. Costco, Shanghai
In 2019, Costco opened its inaugural store in China, and it immediately became a sensation among the Chinese population. In fact, on its opening day, the store had to close early due to the overwhelming number of customers. Massive crowds disrupted traffic, and wait times for parking were up to three hours. Even though the Shanghai location was designed to handle large crowds, Costco Wholesale Corp had to limit the number of shoppers in the store due to overcrowding concerns. Currently, there are two Costco warehouses operating in China.
Number of Costco retail stores: 2
2. Gardabaer, Iceland
Iceland, a country with a population of 372,520 people, is home to only one Costco store, which is situated in Gardabaer, a municipality located about 11.2 kilometers from Reykjavik by car. Despite the limited number of Costco stores in the country, an astounding 70% of Icelanders are members of the popular retail chain, which is more than double the rate of membership in the United States.
The store’s popularity among Icelanders can be attributed to the store’s competitive pricing, variety of high-quality products, and convenient location. Additionally, Costco offers free parking to its customers, which is a significant advantage in a country where parking can be scarce and expensive. In the event that customers are unable to find a spot in front of the store, they can always park at the nearby IKEA parking lot, which is located just across the street from the Costco store.
Number of Costco stores: 1
3. Villebon-sur-Yvette, France
In 2017, Costco opened its first warehouse in France, located just south of Paris. The store has quickly become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike due to its unique offerings. One of the most notable features of the store is its extensive cheese aisle, which features large wheels of brie and other French cheeses. Costco France also stocks an impressive selection of wine and spirits, including extra fancy bottles of champagne that can fetch prices of up to 1,595 euros (about $1,878).
Additionally, the store offers a variety of French desserts and liquor-infused ice cream, providing shoppers with a taste of the local culture. For those looking for a savory treat, poutine – a classic Canadian dish – has been spotted on the menu at the store’s food court. Beyond the culinary delights, the store’s eye-catching exterior also draws attention, making it a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area.
Number of Costco retail stores: 2
4. Gocheok, South Korea
In October 2022, Costco unveiled its newest warehouse in South Korea, but what makes this location distinct is its unconventional origin. Unlike most Costco locations that are built from scratch, this warehouse was created by transforming a former prison. This innovative approach to real estate highlights the company’s flexibility and willingness to adapt to different cultures and environments.
Costco CEO Craig Jelinek expressed his admiration for the transformation during the company’s shareholder meeting, stating that “it’s amazing what you can do with real estate in different countries and make it unique.” The transformation of the prison into a Costco warehouse is a testament to the company’s dedication to finding innovative solutions that cater to the needs of local communities while maintaining their unique cultural identities.
Number of Costco retail stores: 18
5. Juneau, Alaska
The smallest and most remote Costco in the world was built-in 1993 as a prototype to test the feasibility of a smaller-market format, however, the company ultimately decided that it was not viable. Nonetheless, the Costco warehouse in Juneau, Alaska has proven to be a critical resource for the isolated small towns in Southeastern Alaska.
Despite being only half the size of a typical store, which is around 160,000 square feet, Juneau’s Costco is highly valued for the food items it offers that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. Its presence has become essential to many of the surrounding communities, as they rely on the store for essential supplies.
Number of Costco warehouses: 4
6. Mexico City, Mexico
The Costco warehouse in Mexico City, which opened its doors in November 2021, stands out as a unique addition to the global network of Costco stores. Unlike the majority of Costcos that are immediately recognizable, this store is concealed underneath a large public park. The store’s roof, parking garage, and loading bays have been converted into a soccer field and other sports courts, walking paths, and a skate park, making it a multi-purpose destination.
Moreover, this location features a green roof that is home to ten species of native plants, serving as a sanctuary for birds, bees, and insects. This innovative design is a testament to Costco’s commitment to the environment and the local community.
Furthermore, Costco Mexico City has addressed Mexico’s chronic water shortages by implementing two water systems. Firstly, an on-site wastewater treatment facility produces greywater that can be reused to flush toilets and urinals, reducing the water footprint of the store. Secondly, a water catchment system collects and stores rainwater that can be reused in the recreational fountains and lakes at Parque La Mexicana, the public park located across the street from Costco. This eco-friendly approach aligns with Costco’s values of sustainability and responsibility towards the environment.
Overall, the Mexico City warehouse stands out as an innovative and eco-friendly location, providing a unique experience for shoppers and emphasizing Costco’s commitment to the environment and local communities.
Number of Costco warehouses: 40
7. New York City
It might not come as a complete surprise to discover that there is a Costco warehouse located in New York, but the fact that it’s situated in Manhattan makes it slightly unexpected. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary while visiting the Big Apple, alongside other must-see sights such as Times Square and Central Park. As an iconic American destination, you can also find Costco locations in Brooklyn and Queens. The Queens Long Island City warehouse has an added bonus of an exterior food court, where you can indulge in some tasty treats before embarking on your shopping spree. In addition, the Costco parking lot is dedicated solely to its customers. In contrast, the Rego Park Costco shares its parking lot with other businesses in the complex, but the parking is free of charge.
Number of Costco warehouses: 4
8. Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii is a community of islands situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which means it mainly relies on shipments from the mainland United States and other locations, resulting in higher costs of living. Therefore, residents of Hawaii are always looking for ways to save money, and Costco provides an affordable alternative to traditional markets.
Moreover, the Costcos in Hawaii differs from those in other states, particularly in terms of the products they offer. Have you ever seen garlic shrimp, fresh ahi bowls, or pallets of macadamia nut delights at your local Costco? Unlikely. These unique items can be found in Hawaiian Costcos, making them a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike. So, the next time you find yourself in Hawaii, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the nearest Costco warehouse and indulge in their exclusive offerings.
Number of Costco warehouses: 7
9. Costco, Japan
Costco made its debut in Japan in 1999 with the opening of a warehouse in Fukuoka (Hisayama). Costco in Japan looks quite similar to those in the United States, from the bustling check-out counters to the food court.
The Costco location in Tokyo stands out for its remarkable selection of fresh seafood. The store ensures that its customers receive the freshest and highest quality seafood products by sourcing them from local fish markets.
Moreover, the Costco warehouse in Japan offers a wide range of exclusive industrial-sized items, such as giant boxes of spicy Nongshim ramen and premade pancakes. Interestingly, the food court also serves slices of Hawaiian pizza, which is one of the most American things ever!
Number of Costco warehouses: 30
10. Costco, Australia
If you happen to be in Australia, you can visit Cosctco in one of the major cities like Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, or Brisbane to experience the store’s unique offerings. This can be particularly useful if you’re eager to try their taro milk tea with boba or need to get your hands on a tub of Vegemite, which is a staple in Australia.
It’s worth noting that Costco locations in Australia also have rules to follow, such as a warning that says “no shirt, no shoes, no service” in place.”
Number of Costco warehouses: 13
Costco has a presence in several countries worldwide, and some of its locations are unique and distinct from others. From the prison turned into a warehouse in Gocheok, South Korea to the smallest Costco in the world in Juneau, Alaska, Costco offers its members more than just affordable and high-quality products. It provides a unique shopping experience that is tailored to the local culture and preferences.