Big box retailer offers Clay shoppers new choice

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 1/31/18

JACKSONVILLE – Oakleaf and Argyle residents will have another warehouse retailer to choose from beginning next week.

On Feb. 8, a brand-new 154,568 square foot Costco Wholesale will open in West …

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Big box retailer offers Clay shoppers new choice

Posted

JACKSONVILLE – Oakleaf and Argyle residents will have another warehouse retailer to choose from beginning next week.

On Feb. 8, a brand-new 154,568 square foot Costco Wholesale will open in West Jacksonville on Parramore Road near Collins Road at Interstate 295.

Described as a membership warehouse, this Costco is the second in Jacksonville with the original store being more than 20 miles away near the St. Johns Town Center. The westside store is the retailers’ 26th in Florida, its 519th in the U.S. and its 747th worldwide.

This new location is not only bringing name-brand groceries, electronics and its many different private label items, it’s also creating 135 jobs.

“We hired 135 off the street and we will open with a staff of about 225 to 235,” said Jason Zook, general manager.

Costco began planning for the store last May and broke ground last August. The company bought the 16-acre site for $3.44 million and total construction costs were $12.6 million.

Along with shopping for groceries, Clay County commuters have access to a new tire center, an optometrist, a hearing aid facility, a pharmacy, a deli, a bakery and a food court. One difference between this Costco and the one near the St. Johns Town Center is that this one has a gas station to accommodate 16 vehicles at one time.

Zook said, while every household is different, Costco works hard to make it a family’s one-stop shop. Costco now gets to compete with Sam’s Wholesale Club on Youngerman Circle and BJ’s Wholesale Club about six miles south on Blanding Boulevard.

Because it’s a warehouse concept, Costco is different from such retailers as Walmart, Winn Dixie, Publix or Aldi. Regional Marketing Manager Kelly Frasure said the company’s difference is quality.

“We are known for quality,” Frasure said. “We really work hard with our vendors, and we are pretty demanding, but we are always looking at how can we make something better and drive down the price.

“We work to achieve the highest quality at the lowest price,” Frasure said.

According to Zook, Costco, at any time, carries around 4,000 products – which is considerably less Walmart – but because of that lower number, each product is the best in its category.

“Everything that we sell, or most of what we sell, is in pallet quantity and they have to be the top item in that category for it to justify taking a space,” Zook said.

Costco has its own brand of products, Kirkland Signature, a brand created in an effort to maximize quality in Costco products.

“We are very finicky about [Kirkland Signature],” Frasure said. “It has to be equal with or better than the competition. We are trying to maintain the highest quality while keeping it at the cheapest price possible.”

Zook calls Kirkland Signature the highest quality product in the wholesale store. He also says that Costco employees are also of the highest quality and he attributes that to the company’s ability to keep turnover rates low.

“After the first year, there’s not a lot of turnover,” Zook said, who has been with Costco for 33 years. “We have the best employees on the market.”

Frasure said employees start at $13 an hour, and regardless of employment status, be it part-time or full-time, every employee has access to benefits.

Last year, Forbes magazine named Costco “America’s Best Employer,” a title previously held by Google.

Chas Riggleman, the marketing manager for the new store, began his time with Costco a few years back. When tragedy in his family occurred, Costco did something that sticks with him still today.

“My wife’s grandmother passed away and I showed up to work, because that’s what you do, and somehow upper management found out,” Riggleman said. “They called me into the office and sent me home with three day’s pay and it stuck there.

“I work for an amazing company,” Riggleman said. “I didn’t go looking for it and I didn’t ask about it but they took care of me.”

Basic memberships for Costco start at $60, which gives the customers access to everything in the store, as well as the gas pump. For $120, there is the executive membership, which provides 2 percent on most purchases.

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