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Here’s What Costco Looked Like When It First Opened

Updated: Dec. 09, 2022

Right from the start, this superstore was attracting crowds of customers.

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seattle costco original
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

The first warehouse

The first Costco warehouse location opened in Seattle in 1983. According to their website, Costco became the first company “to grow from zero to $3 billion in sales in less than six years.” Their philosophy focuses on keeping costs low so that the customers can keep the savings. Clearly, that business model has brought them a lot of success and loyal customers.

Costco offered Reader’s Digest a few photos of what the very first store looked like. You get a small glimpse into how it used to run and how much it has changed over the years. We’ve also got an inside look at what the first-ever Walmart store looked like, too.

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Costco Opening Flyer

Read all about it!

Each Costco store stocks 4,000 different items for its customers to shop. The average supermarket stocks about 30,000 items. Although customers might be a little overwhelmed by the size of some items, they know that they’re buying trustworthy items every time they head into the store. Whether you’re an original shopper or a newbie, you’ll love these Costco shopping perks you never knew about.

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costco cards vintage
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

Annual fees

Customers could choose a Wholesale card, which cost the member $25, or a Group Gold card, which cost $30. Their store brand, Kirkland Signature, has also seen great success. These are the best Kirkland items you should always buy at Costco.

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costco vintage membership
Courtesy Costco Wholesale


Since its opening in 1983, Costco’s membership options have changed. Today, a basic membership is $60 annually and an executive membership is $120.

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costco warehouse
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

The entrance

The front end of the first store looks similar to the entrance today. Large garage doors draw the large crowds in. See what drew in the large crowds of the first-ever McDonald’s.

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costco warehouse
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

Busy, busy

Right from the start, the store drew in customers. This photo from 1983 looks similar to what a busy Saturday looks like today. From how to avoid the crowds, the absolute best secret deals, here are the Costco tips frequent shoppers keep to themselves.

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seattle costco wholesale
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

Star employees

Costco employees are always happy to keep their stores clean and customers happy because the company takes really good care of them. They offer competitive wages and good benefits, and have created a positive work environment—but there are still some secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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seattle warehouse
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

Keeping it clean

Every member of the Costco team works hard to make sure every customer has the best shopping experience possible. Making sure that the warehouse floor is organized and stocked is just one aspect of that.

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seattle costco vintage
Courtesy Costco Wholesale

Always growing

New Costco locations are constantly popping up around the world and attracting new customers. If you’ve ever been, you know that there’s much more than the free samples and $1.50 hot dog and soda combos that keep people coming back—these 15 things you never knew you should be buying at Costco, for instance.