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Costco opening new store just 95 miles from Waco

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Costco Wholesale is putting the finishing touches on its southern College Station location along State Highway 6 and is now hiring employees before the store’s opening on Aug. 4.

“It’s really exciting to see how excited the community is to have us and we’re just as excited to be part of it,” said Kiley Fitzpatrick, general manager of the College Station Costco. “It’s just a really nice little town and I know we have a lot of managers that are excited to move here.”

Construction of the store’s building began in March, Fitzpatrick said. She added Costco hopes to start receiving merchandise at the beginning of July.

“The store goes up really fast,” Fitzpatrick said. “They have a really fast construction schedule.”

Costco has started hiring for the College Station store, Fitzpatrick said, and a sign near the Texas 6 feeder road says starting pay is $17.50 per hour. Fitzpatrick said the College Station Costco will have approximately 210 employees, including over 100 new hires. Interested applicants can apply online on Costco’s website.

“We try to offer a wide-variety of products, different name brands,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have all the different fresh departments, whether it be a gas station, bakery, produce, deli. All of our stores kind of follow the same model.”

The College Station location is about 95 miles from Waco. The current existing Costco locations to Waco are on in Duncanville, south of Dallas, and Pflugerville, north of Austin. Both are also about 90 miles away.

This will be Costco’s 36th store in Texas, the state with the second-most Costco locations behind California (132), but just the fourth store location not in the metro area of Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston or San Antonio.

Natalie Ruiz, the city of College Station’s chief development officer, said the city started working on a retail recruitment program in 2016 to form a strategic plan to fill retail gaps in the College Station market. She said city officials looked at which retailers and restaurants residents went out of town and bought from online to recruit them to College Station. Ruiz said Costco was always at the top of the list based on its impact on a community.

“Costco is one of those major international retailers that is a regional draw,” Ruiz said. “They don’t just draw from College Station or Bryan or even Hearne or Navasota. They really pull from a much larger range, so being able to have that draw here in College Station, to service folks within really an hour’s drive of here. When we were first visiting with Costco, the new store that they opened up in the Cypress area off of [Highway] 290, they were pulling a lot of folks from this area that went down there and shopped on a regular basis.

“So having them here locally and being able to service that large of a region, it brings folks in that may not be shopping here on a regular basis to not only shop at Costco, but eat at our restaurants, shop at some of our other locations. It’s a regional draw unlike some of the other retailers that we have.”

Costco wanted to build a location on Texas 6 when city officials first met with them, Ruiz said. She added that providing demographics that showed new developments south of town pulled Costco a little further south than where the store originally looked.

Costco filed a site plan with the City of College Station in April 2021 to build a 160,534-square-foot facility. Just over two weeks later, the College Station City Council approved Costco’s economic development and property purchase agreements for about 19 acres.

“When we first met with them, they had their own proprietary software where they look at, OK, where is the population density? Where are the businesses located in your community because they do a lot of business-to-business work? What makes sense in terms of where are the folks that have the most disposable income and the highest-valued homes? Where is their customer really coming from?” Ruiz said. “College Station being a smaller community, we really had to help tell that story in terms of, look, we not only have a university of more than 60,000 students, but we also have large families, we have a lot of development going on south of town, so part of it was they knew where College Station was.

“Some retailers and restaurants that we’ve talked to, they don’t know where College Station is, so that’s the first conversation is have you considered College Station? And if you haven’t, here’s why you should be here. Here’s the amount of disposable income we have. Here’s the amount of buying power that we as a community, including our students, have.”

The store is slated to open in less than eight weeks and Fitzpatrick said she’s heard excitement from community members about Costco’s upcoming opening.

“Every single manager has said every time they’ve talked to somebody that everybody’s really excited about us being here,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s pretty fun that everybody is welcoming us so good.”

Tribune-Herald staff contributed to this story.

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