Hello to Costco

It's almost time for Surf City residents to shop at their own Costco.

After more than two years of talks and planning, the warehouse chain is expected to open its first Huntington Beach store at Bella Terra at 8 a.m. on May 2.

"The entire city of Huntington Beach is excited about Costco coming to our community," said Mayor Don Hansen. "We're looking forward to having that option in our city versus traveling to other cities to have the experience they deliver."

For Costco, investing in Huntington Beach has been on the agenda for more than just two years. It's been about 15 years since the company looked to open a store in the city, said Bruce Greenwood, Costco's senior vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles region.

"We're looking forward to it," he said. "[We] finally found a suitable site for us, and we're just happy to serve that area of the community."

The City Council approved the project in September 2010.

The 154,000-square-foot warehouse at 7562 Center Ave., like most Costcos, will feature a gas station, bakery, fresh meat and produce, an optical department, a tire center, a hearing aid center and a food court, among other services.

But unlike other stores, this location will cater to those who chase the waves and will sell surfboards and other beach-related items, Greenwood said. The store will also feature a larger-than-usual wine selection to cater to the affluent community in Huntington Harbour.

The opening of Costco in Huntington Beach will have an impact on the Fountain Valley location, which gets a lot of its customers from Huntington Beach, Greenwood said. That store will likely see sales reduced by about 18% to 20%.

"We've moved some of our employees from Fountain Valley to Huntington Beach," he said. "The impact will be minimal to our employees, and there will be no layoffs or anything like that."

The parking at the Fountain Valley store won't be as tight, and the store will continue to see a high volume of customers, Greenwood said.

On average, Costco stores see about 5,000 to 6,000 customers a day.

Costco has an agreement with Bella Terra to provide about 550 parking spots, Greenwood said. There is other parking adjacent to the store.

A celebration is scheduled at 6 p.m. Tuesday and will be open to Costco members and nonmembers.


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