What Does The Name Costco Mean?

Famous for its free samples, $4.99 rotisserie chickens, and inflation-proof hot dogs that even Julia Child loved, Costco – known fully today as Costco Wholesale Corporation — has long been a staple of bulk shopping in the U.S. and around the globe. Founded in 1976, this membership-based wholesale retailer has truly become an iconic part of American culture. But, have you ever wondered where the name Costco came from?

Well, as it turns out the meaning behind the name of America's third-largest retailer is more complicated than meets the eye. While some sources mention the name is actually just the shortened version of Cost Company, there is no hard evidence to back up these claims. On the other hand, there are some theories circulating online about Costco actually being a Chinese corporation whose name stands for China Off Shore Trading Company. However, these theories are easy to prove false as Costco was originally founded in the U.S. by an American. Although, at the time of its founding, this big box store was known under a different name entirely. In fact, when Costco was first created, it was called Price Club.

From Price Club to Costco

Costco was originally founded by Sol Price in San Diego, California. With a last name that worked perfectly for the industry he entered, it makes sense that Costco's founder originally called the company Price Club. Contrary to how Costco operates today, Price Club's main customers were other businesses at first. In fact, it was Price Club's vice president of marketing, Jim Sinegal, who is credited with pivoting the company's customer base from small businesses to individual consumers. According to the retailer, it was also Sinegal who would later help in founding a completely new company called Costco Wholesale in Seattle, Washington.

In 1993, the two sister wholesale companies Price Club and Costco merged to create a company called Price Costco. The owners must've found the name Price Costco a bit clunky and repetitive because only four years later the word "price" was dropped and the company became known simply as Costco.

What does Costco's Kirkland brand name mean?

If you've ever shopped at Costco, you probably noticed that the store's generic brand goes by the name Kirkland. Seeing as some other stores call their generic brands by their own name –- like Meijer Brand products -– the fact that Costco chose Kirkland to represent products that are so central to the store's business must indicate that the name means something important.

In fact, the name Kirkland was chosen because it was the original location of Costco's headquarters in Washington state. Although the headquarters would later be relocated to nearby Issaquah, Kirkland left its mark on the company. CNN reports that Costco also tossed around other names like Seattle Signature, but it was Kirkland Signature that eventually stuck.

Today, the Kirkland brand is famous amongst Costco shoppers for its great value for money. In fact, one of the tips and tricks for getting the best deals at Costco is to buy Kirkland brand products that offer high quality for a good price.