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Thread: Costco in Hawai`i

  1. #1

    Default Costco in Hawai`i

    The Seattle Times ran this story on the front page of today's Sunday paper, focusing on how the Costco in Iwilei is the busiest in the nation.

    (Thought I'd post it here, as this was a localy-written story, and I don't know if it would be picked up for syndication to the Island newspapers.)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Good find! That was a great story. I had no idea Jim Sinegal came by so often, if at all. And I really liked how they balanced the amazing revenue generated here with many of the reasons why: high costs, multigenerational households. And the statistics:
    Nearly one in every four island residents — more than 190,000 — joined the club at this store. Tack on the other two locations — Waipio and Hawaii Kai — and half the residents carry a Costco card.

    Iwilei is so busy, in fact, that it turns its entire inventory every two-and-a-half to three weeks — a logistical wonder considering most everything comes in by water. "My responsibility," Loomis says, "is to make you leave with something you didn't know about."
    And his visit to Sam's Club was a fun anecdote. I have yet to set foot inside of one!

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    We're in a Costco once or twice a week. He's got a point about leaving with something you didn't expect to buy.
    One thing they discontinued years ago: Spaghetti Os, but now my kids don't eat it any more. Spaghetti Os with meatballs is vile.
    Recently they ran out of the Nature's Path Flax Seed Cereal with Pumpkin seeds in it. We were eating that daily. Then they ran out. I was told that they might get more in September. So what's the deal? Get Costco members hooked on something and then run out? I think that's wrong.
    Last edited by lavagal; July 15th, 2007 at 05:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by pzarquon View Post
    Good find! That was a great story.[...]And his visit to Sam's Club was a fun anecdote. I have yet to set foot inside of one!
    Great story, indeed. Thanx for posting the url, LL. Like you, PZ, I still haven't been inside a Sam's Club.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by tutusue View Post
    Like you, PZ, I still haven't been inside a Sam's Club.
    I have, but only as a performer (they used to invite our halau to come in and do shows at Christmastime, where the keiki would sell candy lei and a cheapo CD we made of holiday tunes, the proceeds going to Pacific Islander families in the PNW, who happened to be down on their luck that season.) I've had Costco memberships several times in the past twenty years or so, but haven't had one for quite some time now; I'm not really sure why not.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by lavagal View Post
    So what's the deal? Get Costco members hooked on something and then run out? I think that's wrong.
    Oh god, tell me about it. For me, it was those dried Fuji apple chunks they had a while back. Sooo good... and then they disappeared from the shelves and haven't been seen since. WTF?

    I hear it's even worse at Trader Joe's, though. You never know what'll be on the shelf from week to week.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Lakio View Post
    The Seattle Times ran this story on the front page of today's Sunday paper, focusing on how the Costco in Iwilei is the busiest in the nation.
    Except that the reporter gave the pronunciation of Iwilei as "ee-VEE-lay", which sounds a little off to me. If I had to provide an English-equivalent pronunciation tip for outsiders, I'd have written "evil-lay". "Evil Lay" sounds rather sinister... but given the district's old "Hell's Half Acre" reputation, it might be appropriate.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Miyashiro View Post
    I hear it's even worse at Trader Joe's, though. You never know what'll be on the shelf from week to week.
    Sadly, very true. However, many items that are gone one month often return the next, according to a couple of the clerks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Miyashiro View Post
    Except that the reporter gave the pronunciation of Iwilei as "ee-VEE-lay", which sounds a little off to me.
    I've heard it without much emphasis on any syllable, or a slight bit on the first - how accurate would that be?

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Lakio View Post
    I've heard it without much emphasis on any syllable, or a slight bit on the first - how accurate would that be?
    If you want to pronounce it in a Hawaiian-language way, then yeah, that'd be the most accurate. "Ee-vee-lei", with no clear emphasis.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Miyashiro View Post
    If you want to pronounce it in a Hawaiian-language way, then yeah, that'd be the most accurate. "Ee-vee-lei", with no clear emphasis.
    Which is pretty much what the reporter wrote. And how I pronounce it.

    Lei = Lay

    To a haole, anyway.

    At least she got "aloha shirt" right, instead of calling it a Hawaiian shirt.

    And lets not get started again with Hawaiian vs. Hawaii resident.

    Overall, good story. Too bad Erika didn't get a chance to hang out. Guess that's what happens when there's no PR department... hometown media gets the breaks.

    Must have been a great assignment to get: Fly to Hawaii and cruise with the boss from Costco. Tough gig.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Lakio View Post
    Sadly, very true. However, many items that are gone one month often return the next, according to a couple of the clerks.[...]
    I've heard, 4th hand that wholesale price dictates whether or not a product stays. Don't know how accurate that is, tho'. I would think that a product's popularity (or lack thereof) might also have something to do with it. And, it's availability!!! Come to think of it, I have no idea why Costco has some products for awhile then either no longer carries them or carries them sporadically.

    I miss the jars of diced, dried tomatoes. They continue to carry the sliced kine but I'm too lazy to chop 'em up!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    FWIW, the article's author is Japanese-American, a native of New Mexico. Also, this might be her big farewell article for the paper, as she is moving to L.A. for a job in the publications department of a lay Buddhist organization centered on the promotion of peace culture and education.

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    Talking Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Bringing in gems, only to take them away, is certainly part of the business model. But yes, I too have heard that wholesale prices are also key to staying in Costco's stores. If I recall, Costco is like Walmart in at least one respect: they play hardball with suppliers. And if manufacturers can't give Costco the price that Costco independently determines that they should be able to swallow, they get dropped.

    This may or may not have come up when I complained about the sudden disappearance of their Kirkland (the Costco store brand) avocado-extract body wash. I still miss that stuff.

    Here's a post on another forum that speaks a bit to this strategy:
    My wife used to work for a company (not electronics) that was a supplier to Costco. Costco has VERY strict requirements for packaging and labeling - for example, the Costco product number MUST be visible on the outside of the package. They also use their considerable volume to force unique product changes for a variety of reasons - consumer research, price points, bundles, etc. Most suppliers end up with a unique model number for the Costco product because it IS different than what they sell anywhere else. Costco plays extreme hardball with suppliers - if you want to do business with them, you do it their way or not at all. In return, they can offer you outrageously large volumes - it is absolutely incredible how much product they can move.

    Unfortunately, Costco is also very well known for having absolutely zero brand loyalty - if they can find a competing product for a few cents cheaper, you are gone - no matter how much business you have done together in the past. They are brutal business partners.

    All this adds up to being very good for us (the cheap b@stard consumers) - and also explains why you see products show-up at Costco and then suddenly disappear.
    Last edited by pzarquon; July 16th, 2007 at 07:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    I went to the Iwilei and Waipio Costcos looking for another Caravan brand instant canopy (better than the EZ-UP one at Sam's). Anyway they said that its sold out and they wont be bringing in anymore because theyre getting ready for Christmas! I started getting a panic attack... not because they didnt have the tent but because he made it seem like Christmas was right around the corner.

    Costco Hawaii Kai had them tho. They had like 15 or so... they won't wont restock either... fwiw.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Unfortunately, Costco is also very well known for having absolutely zero brand loyalty
    What they do have is customer loyalty. I appreciate that. I wonder if it's possible for a business like Costco to have both brand and customer loyalty.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Some good points have been made here about Costco's hardball stance on doing business with their suppliers.

    The mention of them having zero brand loyalty is a tough one to swallow. There must be some point where customer demand for specific products (as reflected here) would have more leverage than the bottom line: price. Of course, Costco can pass any price increases on to the customers, but they're also driven at keeping their public reputation as the lowest price in town for the highest quality product, which is the core strategy of their business model.

    It's a tough business. I'm sure manufacturer reps must cringe at just the thought of walking into Costco's merchandising office. Like going to war.

    I've got an aunt in Alaska who used to package and sell smoked salmon at the Anchorage Costco. She too got ousted by a larger supplier who offered them a lower price.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Pomai View Post
    The mention of them having zero brand loyalty is a tough one to swallow. There must be some point where customer demand for specific products (as reflected here) would have more leverage than the bottom line: price. Of course, Costco can pass any price increases on to the customers, but they're also driven at keeping their public reputation as the lowest price in town for the highest quality product, which is the core strategy of their business model.

    It's a tough business. I'm sure manufacturer reps must cringe at just the thought of walking into Costco's merchandising office. Like going to war.
    It pretty much is a battle, the relationship between wholesalers and retailers. Not just at Costco, but any store. If you're a local Kona coffee distributor, you really have to fight for shelf space at Long's or Don Quijote.

    But at Costco, the ante is upped. They're not interested in carrying a few boxloads of a certain product just to keep a few customers happy. They're only interested in bringing in pallet loads of product where the sales volume and the profit margin are sufficiently high.

    Complain to a manager about the absence of StretchTite plastic wraps, he won't care. (Not that there's much he can do about it.) He'll just tell you to buy the Kirkland brand or whatever else they may be carrying at the moment. It's the nature of their business.
    Last edited by Frankie's Market; July 16th, 2007 at 12:42 PM.
    This post may contain an opinion that may conflict with your opinion. Do not take it personal. Polite discussion of difference of opinion is welcome.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Wait, so costco only has 30lbs of rice? where's the 50lbs or 75lbs?

    (that has me thinking, where can you buy the largest amount of something say, rice?)
    How'd I get so white and nerdy?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    What's the deal with those squishy surfboards at Costco? Are they rideable?
    Burl Burlingame
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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by buzz1941 View Post
    What's the deal with those squishy surfboards at Costco? Are they rideable?
    I haven't seen the ones at Costco, but I do know I've seen squishy boards at some of the surf shops. Supposed to be safer than fiberglass boards.
    I think they use them on Waikiki Beach to give lessons to beginners, too. The squishy boards are wider and thicker, ergo more stable for the balance-challenged.
    I'd like to try one sometime, just for something different.
    .
    .

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by adrian View Post
    Wait, so costco only has 30lbs of rice? where's the 50lbs or 75lbs?

    (that has me thinking, where can you buy the largest amount of something say, rice?)
    Chinatown, 100 lbs rice.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by buzz1941 View Post
    What's the deal with those squishy surfboards at Costco? Are they rideable?
    I got one for my girls, but we haven't taken it out yet. I don't surf in a kid-friendly spot and I sure don't want to take them to Waikiki. Maybe Cockroach Bay.

    I learned on a soft board. A giant Morey surfboard. We used to call it the Maxi Pad.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Miyashiro View Post
    I hear it's even worse at Trader Joe's, though. You never know what'll be on the shelf from week to week.
    Affirmative. As I as reading your post, I was saying, "man, that's the same way it is at Trader J........." then laughed when I got to the last part of your post. Very annoying when they run out of stuff I like.

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    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    I've seen Trader Joe's in California, where stay Hawaii?
    May I always be found beneath your contempt.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Costco in Hawai`i

    Quote Originally Posted by salmoned View Post
    I've seen Trader Joe's in California, where stay Hawaii?
    None to be found. They've stated that they aren't interested in moving into Hawai`i. Good news for those of us who raid TJ's for omiyage to take to Hawai`i.

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