The First Ever Costco Was In A Truly Distinctive Location

While most stores take residence in a retail space or shopping center, stores like Costco stand apart. Warehouse chains like these operate out of plain, large, metallic spaces, and there are several reasons why. Still, while Costco's usual locations are certainly a break from the norm, the original Costco was actually in an even more unique location than the rest of the chain's locations are today. 

The very first Costco was not in a warehouse but was actually located in a converted airplane hangar in San Diego. This was not just any old space for planes too — it was originally owned by Howard Hughes. At the time of these origins, the store was going by the name Price Club before it merged with Costco later in 1993. If you're curious to see it, the original Costco location is still open to members in California today. 

Since most Costco stores are housed in huge warehouses, we'd say these unique origins aren't too far off. From hangar to warehouse, why does Costco choose these unconventional spaces?

Why Costco operates out of warehouses

Why do warehouse chains like Costco operate out of, well, warehouses? For one, the large space of a warehouse is the perfect space to house the chain's signature bulk products. The extra storage space is necessary for these larger items, and the construction of each store is designed to reflect that. Another reason for the warehouse is that these simple environments help keep costs lower than actual storefronts can. Costco can store all of its goods under one roof on pallets, which cuts down on the cost of space and labor in the long run. Not having to pay for fancy signage or shelves also makes for cheaper prices on goods. 

So logistically, these locations often just make sense. The focus for Costco is not on visual appeal but on saving money across the board. This is the reason it takes a membership to get in here — the prices stay low.

Other Costco facts that might surprise you

Words like warehouse and airplane hangar are much more unique to Costco compared to other stores, but there are probably more things you didn't know about the chain.

Costco predominately deals in bulk goods. However, its food court is giving it a whole other platform too. Most people don't know that in addition to being one of the world's biggest warehouse chains, Costco is also one of the nation's largest pizza chains too. The warehouse chain even sells more pizza than California Pizza Kitchen. From the food court to the bakery, people love it all. It was reported that Costco had over 119 million members in 2022. While Costco is a fixture of American life, the chain also has locations across the world in places like Australia, Japan, Spain, and Taiwan too.

Plus, although we know where Costco's first store came to be by now, the chain's first headquarters was actually in a different location: Kirkland, Washington. And yes, you guessed it, this is exactly where Costco gets the name for its signature product line. (Have you tried the Kirkland Greek yogurt?)