What’s the latest on Champaign’s Costco?
General manager Dan Iaquinta allowed me to tag along on a recent tour of the 152,000-square-foot warehouse store.
“There’s not really anything unique,” he said, other than it having all LED lighting and six self-checkout stations.
Like other Costcos, it will sell tires, jewelry, rotisserie chickens, electronics, ground beef, baked goods, liquor and $1.50 hot dogs.
It will also have an independent optometrist, hearing tests, pharmacy and gas station.
Costco began stocking the Champaign store this past week ahead of its Oct. 22 opening.
“It’s amazing how quickly this comes together,” said Iaquinta, who arrived in Champaign in July after previously running the East Peoria Costco.
The membership-club warehouse is opening at the site of the former Bergner’s, which was torn down, at Market Place Mall.
In recent weeks, Costco has set up tents around town to sign people up for memberships.
Iaquinta said those have been successful but declined to say how many memberships have been sold.
“The tents have done really well,” he said. “The community has really been embracing us, from the planning committee to the mayor.”
The Costco will open less than 2 miles from Sam’s Club, which recently received some renovations.
“We are constantly evaluating and updating our clubs in order to meet the shopping habits of our members,” Sam’s Club spokesman JD Byrum said. “The Champaign club recently underwent some of those determined updates, specifically to better serve our members in the Fresh area.”
Neither company wanted to directly discuss whether there’s room for two warehouse clubs in Champaign-Urbana.
“We feel our value and quality of products separates us,” Iaquinta said of Costco.
But when Champaign was weighing whether to give Costco a $2.75 million sales-tax-reimbursement deal over 10 years, its staff found that towns with both a Costco and a Sam’s Club saw an increase in overall sales-tax revenue.
The city hired a consultant that looked at East Peoria, Melrose Park, Mount Prospect, North Riverside and Bolingbrook.
The Champaign Costco is expected to bring in $366 million in revenue over its first six years, according to the city.