Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Have you been to a Costco Business Center?!

Hi Everyone! Sorry for my prolonged absence, I've been busy with work and up to my eyeballs with our remodeling project but I'm back now! And without further ado here is the Costco Business Center post:

A Costco what? Costco Business Centers are a different kind of Costco warehouse, but they are open to all Costco members - you don't have to have a business membership. Business Centers carry some similar products that regular Costco warehouses carry, however the majority of their products are aimed at small business owners like those who operate restaurants, food trucks, and convenience stores. Costco Business Centers also have a much larger variety of office supplies, janitorial supplies and even office furniture- all things that are essential to to the operation of just about any business. According to the Costco Business Center magazine Let's Talk Business, 70% of the food stocked in Business Centers is not available at traditional Costco warehouses.

Costco Business Centers also differ in that they do not have departments you are used to seeing at regular Costco warehouses like: the Pharmacies, Optical or Hearing Aid services, Photo Labs or Bakeries. They also do not carry apparel (unless you are looking for a chef uniform!), toys, books or bedding. But a few of the Business Centers do have food courts and gas stations like regular warehouses. The majority of Business Centers do have Costco Print & Copy Centers that provide professional printing services- everything from making copies, printing banners, posters, flyers, menus & pamphlets and you can even order customized apparel and promotional items with your business, club or teams name & logo on them!

There are currently a total of 10 Costco Business Centers, all located in the US around major metropolitan areas, and most of which are located on the west coast:

2 in the Seattle area
2 in the Los Angeles area
1 in the San Francisco Bay area
1 in Phoenix
1 in San Diego
1 in Las Vegas
1 in the Atlanta area
1 in the Chicago area (as of April 2015!)

Costco Business Centers also have different hours from regular Costco warehouses, with most Business Centers open 7am-6pm M-F, 7am-4pm on Saturdays and all locations are closed on Sundays. Business Centers offer delivery within a designated delivery area and the best part is it's FREE for all orders of $250 or more! Smaller orders under $250 can still be delivered but are charged a $25 delivery fee.

Business Centers even have their own coupons each month so you can get instant savings on dozens of different products. Purchase by the pallet and you can save even more, and each month there are additional instant savings available on select products when purchased by the pallet. But if you want to save the most money you have to buy a whole truckload. Yes a truck load. You can fill a truck with pallets of the same item, multiple items/pallets from the same supplier, or multiple pallets of different items available at your local Costco Business Center. Check out CostcoBusinessDelivery.com for locations more information about delivery and truckload orders.

Okay, enough about what Business Centers are, let's get into the fun stuff and talk about all the cool things they sell at Business Centers!

The first Business Center I visited was in Hawthorne, CA just outside of Los Angeles.

Two things struck me immediately when I arrived - the logo on the building is slightly different (so from afar you can tell its a Business Center not a regular warehouse) and the orange flatbed carts at Business Centers are a bit different too- they have handy baskets attached to keep track of smaller items.

Aside from those two differences, the setup is almost exactly the same as a regular warehouse- you show your Costco membership to enter on one side and you show your receipt to exit on the other side.

Walking inside it almost looks like any other warehouse except instead of being greeted by the big electronics department with dozens of TVs, you're met with an assortment of different items ranging from folding tables & chairs and table cloths, custodial equipment and office furniture.

The first few aisles I went down were an expanded selection of office supplies, much more than what you would usually find at a regular Costco warehouse. For instance, in addition to the larger selection of pens, pencils, post-it notes and various other office paper products, the Business Centers also have cash registers and rolls of register/receipt paper, money counters, time clocks and time cards, security systems, toner cartridges for laser printers & copiers and even laminating machines.

Business Centers also have kiosks showing off items you can special order like office furniture, hospitality TVs, and custodial equipment like commercial paper towel dispensers.

The next set of aisles I went down were all about cooking and baking gear - mostly items you would buy for a restaurant, bakery or catering business - but I did find several things that anyone could use in their own home kitchen: gadgets and cooks tools like spatulas, cutting boards, tongs, pepper mills, knives and mandolin slicers. There were also dozens of different sized chafing dishes with matching lids & stands and cases of canned sterno fuel. There were NSF rated cookware and bakeware, a selection of chefs uniforms in various sizes and colors, bar mops, commercial grade oven mitts, commercial sized food storage containers, NSF rated plates, bowls, cups & glassware and a variety of mixing and serving bowls. The best part- all of these items were at unbelievably low Costco prices!

I also saw an assortment of commercial grade appliances and commercial kitchen equipment like counter top deep friers, hot plates, commercial grade coffee makers & panini presses and the largest immersion stick blender I have ever seen!

For use in my own home I couldn't resist picking up the follow items: a digital thermometer, a set of metal measuring cups, a set of metal measuring spoons, a set of flexible cutting mats, a mesh strainer, and a pastry brush. (I ALMOST bought a case of glass goblets that I would have had to mail home from L.A. but the more I thought about it, I decided I should wait until AFTER our remodel is complete before I start stocking the new kitchen...)

Anyway, as I moved further down the aisles I found every kind of takeout container, disposable plate, cup, cutlery and paper good you could ever imagine! Cups and lids for coffee and other hot beverages, cups, lids & straws for fountain drinks, chopsticks, to-go plastic utensils, styrofoam & cardboard take out containers- they even have pizza boxes and popcorn bags!

(On a later outing I made it down to the San Diego Business Center where I found dozens of different kinds of shopping bags in a variety of sizes, from small paper lunch sacks, to larger paper grocery bags - with and without handles - and plastic grocery bags in different sizes & colors.)

Still at the Hawthorne Business Center, I discovered some items that would be excellent for displaying and serving food like a two tiered display case, platters & pitchers, refillable condiment bottles and of course for the safe handling of food- disposable gloves.

When I finally turned my attention toward the center of the warehouse to see what the open middle area had and I actually giggled to myself at the sight before me. The entire center area was nothing but candy, snacks, and beverages that you would find at any convenient store. It was literally like being a kid in a candy store. They had boxes of chocolate bars, gum, lollipops, potato chips, cookies, nuts, jerky, pop-tarts, cereal bars protein bars, trail mix and more. I even found my all time favorite potato chips- Hawaiian Style Kettle chips- in a variety pack, and they had brands and varieties that I had never seen before at Costco!

And the beverages! Oh the variety of different beverages was unbelievable. They even had my most favorite lemonade- the Kirkland Signature Organic Lemonade- but instead of a two 3-Qt pack they had a case of 24 individual 16 oz bottles - the perfect size for vending or for lunch on the go. 

They also had vegetable juices like V8 & Clamato and fruit juices in a variety of different sizes. I lost count of the different varieties of Starbucks frappuccinos, and there were dozens of different kinds of energy drinks, sodas and bottled waters in different sizes of plastic bottles, cans, and glass bottles.

Before I forged ahead into the refrigerated and freezer sections I made my way back to the right side to explore the janitorial equipment and cleaning supplies. In addition to the even larger sizes of cleaning products, most of which were commercial grade, they also sold commercial vacuum cleaners, commercial trash & recycling bins, mops & mop buckets and wet floor signs. You could even buy packs of those disposable toilet seat covers you often find in public restrooms. 

Moving down the next aisle I discovered a selection of hardware and automotive items- I found pumice hand cleaner in a 2-gallon pump jug and a 5-gallon bucket of degreaser. In addition to automobile oil, there were also jugs of antifreeze/coolant, containers for holding gasoline and even a 2-pack of jumper cables. For hardware, they had duct tape, safety cones, large security mirrors, hand trucks & carts, step ladders and items you might find at a regular Costco warehouse like batteries, work gloves, shop towels, and fire extinguishers.

Heading further down the right side to the very back of the warehouse I found what would be considered hospitality supplies, things that would be perfect for daycares, small hotels, bed & breakfasts or most offices. Items like commercial fist aid kits, an assortment of diapers & wipes and feminine hygiene products, a larger variety of protective exam gloves, hand sanitizers in giant commercial size bottles and in smaller individual bottles for resale. In addition to the huge bottles of refill hand soaps, they also had variety packages of individual hand soap pumps which are perfect for the home, B&Bs or even rental properties like a beach house.

In the convenience store section, (similar to pharmacy and health & beauty section at a regular warehouse- minus the actual pharmacy of course), located at the front of the warehouse I also discovered an assortment of personal care items in travel sizes or individual, single use packaging- like OTC medications, disposal razors, condoms, tooth brushes, chap-stick- things you could resell at a convenient store or have on hand a hotel or B&B.

Finally, I turned my attention to the fresh food selection. I found fresh produce for sale by the case at even better discounts than what you would find at a traditional Costco warehouse, but of course you had to buy a massive amount. For example a 25 lb bag of red onions is only $.32 per pound, thats 50% LESS expensive than the 8 lb bag of red onions that goes for $.72 per pound at a regular Costco warehouse. And a 50 lb bag of yellow onions is only $.22 per pound versus the 10 lb bag for $.39 per pound at a regular warehouse. If you can go through that many onions before they go bad then by all means shop for onions and other fresh produce at Costco Business Centers!

The refrigerated section was so large it was like walking into an enormous refrigerator, and Costco even provides shoppers with jackets for customers comfort. The bright neon jackets are easy to spot and allow you to take your time while shopping in the refrigerated and freezer sections (which again are massive).

Most of the fresh food is sold in such quantities that it would only make sense for restaurants, caterers, food trucks, churches or other businesses in the food service industry. I did however spot a few smaller items that were sold in relatively smaller quantities which makes them great choices for any family: Lunchables, fruit & yogurt packs, hummus & pretzel packs, and individual pre-made salad bowls. 

I saw more kinds of meat sold in the Costco Business Centers that I think I have ever seen in a single store that wasn't a butcher shop. They had 40 lb boxes of boneless skinless chicken breasts, 60 lb boxes of ground beef, 74 lb boxes of steaks and even whole lamb carcasses! 

Pre-washed & pre-cut produce was also available, ready to toss into recipes or salads, and trays of stuffed peppers and 5 lb bags of cubed cheese were just waiting for caterers to arrange them on platters and serve them to hungry guests.

In the freezer section there were about a dozen varieties of individually wrapped burritos and pre-made sandwiches- perfect for re-sale, and there were giant desserts with instructions on how to cut & serve an individual piece or the whole dessert for an entire crowd. There were bags of pre-made soups waiting to be reheated and served, giant bags of frozen vegetables and cases of frozen meats.

Leaving the freezer section and returning the borrowed neon jacket to a hook, I found a section of baked goods with double loaves of bread, bags of tortillas & dinner rolls, and individually wrapped coffee cakes, muffins and pastries. Walking through the rest of the grocery section I came across packages of assorted teas and coffee, all kinds of coffee syrups, and many single serve items like individual portions of condiments & salad dressings, sweeteners and creamers. (And for those of you who love Mochi- I saw two different varieties of the sweet rice cake at the San Diego Business Center!)

In the pantry goods section I found massive 50 oz  cans of soup (for comparison, the regular little cans you pick up at the grocery store are only 10.75 oz cans) and if you can imagine it, there were even larger bags of flour, sugar and rice than you see in a regular Costco warehouse. I also came across a 1-gallon jar of sauerkraut and a 32 oz jar of capers (the last jar I bought at Whole Foods was only 2.4 oz).

Now, you know how cartoons and TV shows sometimes poke fun at Costco for selling "5-gallon jars of mayonnaise," well I didn't see any of those at the Business Centers but I did see 5-gallon buckets of Soy Sauce, 5-gallon buckets of Kosher dill pickles, 1-gallon jugs of molasses, and a variety of different spices in 1-gallon jugs.

Finally as I made my way to the registers I spotted the tobacco area which looked about the same as they do in regular Costco warehouses except there are huge signs stating that tobacco sales are strictly for re-sale purposes only (and you're required to show a valid resale license).

I had so much fun exploring my first Costco Business Center (and subsequently my second one in San Diego and my third one in Atlanta) but I can't wait to experience the others!

If you run a small business (including but not limited to a restaurant, bakery, deli, coffee shop, food truck, a catering company, a convenient store, a boutique hotel or bed & breakfast, a daycare, a church, a private club or even a small office) I HIGHLY recommend you check out the Costco Business Center closest to you. And even if you you don't own a business, if you live near a Costco Business Center check it out if you haven't already- you might be surprised by what you find!

*Update! So remember that case of glass goblets that I almost bought in L.A.? Well I picked up a case of them along with two cases of wine glasses during my visit to the Morrow, GA Business Center just outside of Atlanta on the way home from a car buying road trip ;)

To keep up with the latest roadshows and deals I spot in between blog posts be sure to use the links below to follow me on Twitter and Instagram ;)

Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur


P.S. - Selections and prices listed above will vary from different Costco locations.

Follow me on Twitter! @CostcoConoiseur
Follow me on Instagram! @theCostcoConnoisseur


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  2. I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.
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  3. Thanks for this great post. My regular Costco is being replaced by a Business center and was wondering what is a business center. Now I know. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for your comment! Which Costco warehouse is your regular Costco that is being converted into a Costco Business Center?

  4. My South Orlando Costco is being converted into a Costco Business Center, as they will be opening a new location this week.

  5. Like the person who commented above, I was looking for information about what to expect when the Costco Business Center in Orlando opens. We drove to the new Costco today and it took more than 40 minutes to get there in good traffic, and frankly, I wasn't impressed. I'm hoping that most of what I purchase will be available at the business center. Thanks for the great post.

  6. Rick From Jersey08 May, 2016 03:19

    To answer the Anonymous poster question.

    I was at the new Costco off of I-4 near Mall at Millenia this past Saturday and one of the managers there told that they are working on completely gutting the interior of the old Water Bridge Blvd. building and redesigning it the specification of a Business Center and it's expect to reopen in the fall possibly September or October.

    In case anyone is interested I've shot and posted on my YouTube channel two videos, the first is a tour of the old Water Bridge warehouse and the second is a tour of the new warehouse on May 3rd when they were doing a pre-opening gala for their members.

    Costco Wholesale South Orlando FL (CLOSED)

    Costco Wholesale - Mall at Millenia (Orlando FL) Pre-Opening Gala

    1. Thanks for the info and videos Rick!

    2. Rick From Jersey11 May, 2016 19:45

      Your most certainly welcome.

  7. So it looks like the business center Costco is a mix of IKEA and staples but more commercial.

    Do they still sell hot food or rotisserie chicken? I can't survive a massive warehouse without my $1.50 hot dog and soda

    1. Some business centers have food courts and/or gas stations but some have neither. To find out if a business center has a food court you can search for a warehouse location on costco.com and under display options select business center so it will only return results for business centers. Then select the specific business center and look under warehouse services to see whether it has a food court and/or a gas station.

    2. The one in San Diego has a food court hidden on the side of the warehouse.

  8. Thanks for the post! A Business Center is opening in Denver. "Finally," I briefly thought, "no long haul to the suburbs if I want to shop at Costco." Alas, the Costco Business Center looks pretty worthless to me and my home "restaurant" with just 3 regular customers...

    1. Oh I didnt know a business center would be opening in Denver! Thanks for the tip :) Do you know when it will open and where it will be located?

  9. June 1st, 2016

  10. Worth noting Costco is always tweaking and adjusting the Business Center stores. So even if you try one and don't like it, try it again in a few months. The Morrow GA store has evolved wonderfully over the last several years and is now much more useful and relevant and it's often busier now that it was as a regular Costco, which is a good thing.

    And to the person asking about the rotisserie chickens, the Business Center near me does NOT have the chickens. But they do have the food court.

  11. I've been in the new converted CostCo business center. What a FAIL. Since it's been open, foot traffic is way down, it was a ghost town in there. CostCo, how many folks are going to buy a $1900 propane restaurant grill and matching freezer. VS how many consumers USED to shop in that store in Orlando.

    FAIL FAIL FAIL. Do not buy costco stock if this is the direction they are going. I asked many employee's in the store, all confirming that "well it's just the start" "once word gets out, it will get better"

    No No NO. Costco is not going to make up in sales what they lost in this store, not a chance. The store was rated number 14, in the USA.. I can't wait to see the ranking in 6 months, based on what I've seen over the last month foot traffic wise, this thing is dropping like a frigging rock.

  12. I love that Costco sells Mounsier Papa Mango Nectar! It was so hard to find here in Georgia.

  13. Any possibility a center will open in the Washington metropolitan area (Maryland or Virginia)? The business centers are the only stores that carry the Kirkland Chocolate Chips that I need for my market business!

    1. I do not work for Costco so I am no sure, you would have to ask them directly. But I would LOVE one in the DC area! It is quite an ordeal for me to get up to Hackensack or down to Morrow. The Newington warehouse in Springfield VA used to be a business center many years ago but it was converted to a regular warehouse. Try contacting Costco on the official Costco Wholesale Facebook page - they are really good about answering questions promptly :)

  14. Can't wait for the first Canadian Business Centre to open in Toronto in March 2017.


    1. I can't wait to visit the First Canadian Business Centre!!

  15. Nice way to execute a post. I think you have done a fabulous work. Keep posting.
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  16. Had no idea about the delivery option. That's pretty amazing! The one business Costco in my region is in an extremely seedy area of town and also happens to be located near a poorly designed freeway interchange that is always bottlenecked resulting in Los Angeles-style traffic during business hours. Will definitely see if I am in their delivery range.

    Frank George @ Dutch Hollow Supplies

  17. New Costco Business Center Opening in South San Francisco, CA Fall 2017

  18. New Business Center opening soon in the San Fernando Valley just west of the Burbank Airport.

  19. I would think that buying from Costco and reselling in a restaurant is not legal, much like in CA you can't buy alcohol and resale in a restaurant. Anyone know this for a fact that you can purchase food and resell it commercially?

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  22. Thanks for posting this. I usually go to one of 3 different Costcos to find my regularly consumed items, but my coveted Mexican Coke made with real sugar, and Snapdragon Instant Pho have disappeared from all 3! It was suggested that I check out the Business Costco - I didn't even know that was a thing! Now I'll have to go check out the one in Denver and hopefully find my coveted items, plus plenty more!!

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