In a temporary office at the Regions building in East Peoria, there was a flurry of activity Thursday afternoon. People were standing at a desk talking, people were walking down the hallway and a young woman was sitting in a chair waiting for an interview.
The temporary office is for Costco, which will open Nov. 14 at 301 W. Washington St.
Marketing Membership Manager Lisa Pittman and Frontend Manager Erik Abatie talked about the store’s upcoming opening.
About 50 people have signed up for a Costco membership already. Abatie said it is a good idea to sign up ahead of time to avoid long lines later. A basic membership costs $55 compared to $110 for an executive membership. With the executive membership, patrons receive 2 percent back on the majority of their purchases.
“You get earning power. The more you shop, the more you earn,” Pittman said.
Abatie said they were wrapping up the hiring process. About 170 employees will work at the new 148,000-square-foot Costco store. Most of the people that have been hired will begin part-time. After a couple of months, Abatie said select employees will be able to apply for full-time. Costco offers benefits to all of its employees.
Costco carries a plethora of items including groceries, electronics, clothing, health and beauty aids, car tires and batteries, optical items and more. The store is similar to Sam’s Club in that it offers items sold in bulk. The difference, Abatie said, is that Costco carries higher end merchandise with a 100 percent guarantee, backing all items they sell with a full refund if a customer is not satisfied. Refunds are also given on memberships if a person is not satisfied.
“Very rarely does that happen,” Abatie said.
Some of the clothing brands offered at Costco include Calvin Klein, Hurley, Lucky Brand, Gloria Vanderbilt and Quicksilver.
“I actually buy a lot of my clothes from Costco,” Abatie said.
Abatie and Pittman had much to say about the groceries offered at the store, the main thing people purchase.
The meat products are USDA and above, said Abatie. The bakery items are made fresh on premise, said Pittman.
Pittman, who said the deli items at Costco are delicious, believes in what she sells. Prior to working at Costco, she had her own jewelry business. She held shows for customers and offered them food items from Costco, which she said they loved. Pittman drove 45 minutes to a Costco before her jewelry parties.
“We want to take the work out of parties,” Pittman said.
Costco also offers organic foods for health conscious people and some gourmet items, such as capers.
Page 2 of 2 - To go along with those capers, someone may want to purchase a fine wine. Pittman said Costco is known as the No. 1 wine retailer in the state.
Abatie also boasted about the quality produce and great prices on items such as bananas and avocados.
The benefit to buying in bulk, Pittman and Abatie said is convenience and savings.
In fact, Abatie said he thinks stores in the area will have to lower their prices on certain items in order to compete with Costco.
Gas is one of those items. Costco will have its own gas station for members.
“Generally, we’re a lot cheaper than everybody in the area,” Abatie said.
“Generally, we meet or beat. A lot of times, they see our prices and they bring theirs down,” said Pittman.
Costco does not accept manufacturers’ coupons, but they do mail out their own coupons, mainly to members.
People can come to Costco at any time to check out the store’s merchandise before deciding if they want to become a member. A membership must be obtained before a purchase.
Patrons may also want to come to Costco to eat at the food court for lunch or get a takeout pizza for $9.99.
Taste samples of different food items are offered at Costco every day.
Costcos are mainly found in larger cities. The nearest ones to East Peoria are in St. Louis or Chicago. Abatie said the chain has recently been focusing on smaller communities.
“A lot of the people have heard of Costco,” he said.
Pittman said people are excited and they have been hearing positive feedback.
“I’ve just met the nicest people,” said Pittman who has been attending local functions and will become an East Peoria Chamber Ambassador.
“We are part of something that’s going to be huge,” she said of locating in the city’s new downtown. “It’s a mecca and we’re part of that.”
For more information about Costco’s membership, call 694-9220.
The store’s hours are 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The store is closed during major holidays.