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Costco preparing for business

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Costco Wholesale prepares to open at Cloud Springs Road in Fort Oglethorpe. From left are assistant front-end manager Dean Smith, marketing representative Russ Stoker and marketing representative Ruthanne Higgins. Photo by Hannah Campbell

As Costco Wholesale prepares for its first entrance into the local market with a grand opening Oct. 27 at the Cloud Springs Road exit in Fort Oglethorpe, representatives introduced the business to the Ooltewah-Collegedale Kiwanis Club at its weekly meeting.

“Our reception from the community has just been outstanding,” said assistant front-end manager Dean Smith, who has worked with Costco for 24 years, moving from California to Kansas City to Chattanooga.

Costco marketing representative Ruthanne Higgins moved to Apison six months ago with her husband, Cam, when he got a job at Alstom.

“We both kind of came into some of the big things that are coming into Chattanooga,” said the Montana native, adding that Chattanooga’s scenic beauty reminds her of her home state. “Chattanooga is a great growing area. Chattanooga has done a really great job of bringing business in, which is a credit to the community.”

Higgins said Costco’s Cloud Springs Road location will simply make it easier to stretch the greater Chattanooga area into North Georgia.

“It’s the Chattanooga metro area and it’s bringing everyone together,” she said. “People will see it’s a lot closer than they think it is.”

Aside from the traditional optical department and one-hour photo booth, the members-only Costco has an on-site audiologist, payroll services, travel agency and food court. A business membership earns extra discounts and rebates.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Costco grand opening

WHEN: Oct. 27. Ribbon cutting at 7:30 a.m. Store opens at 8.

WHERE: Cloud Springs Road Exit 353 at I-75

GOOD TO KNOW: Non-members can attend the grand opening festivities, but visitors must be a Costco member to shop.

Smith pointed out that Costco’s “smart packaging” allows families and businesses to buy in bulk yet consume at their leisure.

Costco was founded in 1985 in Seattle, Wash. Smith said Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states that don’t have a Costco, and Australia is its newest international market.

“That’s going like gangbusters,” Smith said. “In an economy like this we are still growing and we’re hiring people. It’s nice.”

The 153,000-square-foot store has 158 employees consisting of 102 locals and 56 transfers. Smith said 11,718 people applied to work at the new Catoosa store and administrators interviewed 500.

Though Smith said corporate offices decide exactly when and where to open new stores, he speculated that Georgia’s tax rates and zoning laws, plus the fact that wine can be sold in the store, led them to pick North Georgia.

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