Opening Bell

On Reflection: Dogs and Chickens

Costco's trajectory just keeps rising

By Rob Smith April 30, 2024

You can buy virtually anything at Costco.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

You can buy virtually anything at Costco.

Costco has its own travel agency. It offers health. The company sold 11 million tires last year and filled 60 million prescriptions. You can buy a 5-carat diamond for $260,000 or a Mickey Mantle autographed rookie card for $250,000.

But it’s the hot dogs and rotisserie chickens that still steal the spotlight. The Issaquah-based retailer sold more than 137 million $4.99 rotisserie chickens worldwide last year, and 199 million $1.50 hot dog and soda combos, an all-time high.

“We came up a little short on our 200 million,” President and CEO Ron Vachris said at the company’s recent annual shareholders meeting, “but I can assure you we’re all going to work hard to achieve that number this year.”

Costco opened its first warehouse in Seattle almost 41 years ago. It counts 129 million cardholders, with a 90.5% renewal rate, and now operates 872 locations across the world. It has 33 stores in Washington state, the second-most of any state besides California.

Net sales totaled $237.7 billion last year, another all-time high, an increase of 7% from 2022. The company has 316,000 employees.

“Nobody does it better than Costco,” CNBC host Jim Cramer recently said. “There simply isn’t another retailer in the world that comes close to these guys in terms of offering customers value and, yes, whimsy.”

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