On September 15, 1983, the first Costco discount warehouse opens on 4th Avenue S in Seattle. The warehouse offers food, appliances, clothes, office supplies, and other goods at prices below general retail levels. The company is headquartered in Issaquah.
The warehouse concept was pioneered by Price Club in San Diego in 1976. Jeff Brotman and former Price Club executive Jim Sinegal founded Costco and offered small businesses, such as restaurants and gas stations, the opportunity to buy a limited variety of food, tires, cosmetics, and other goods at 8 to 9 percent over wholesale. Later, the market was expanded to include retail customers. The self-service warehouses offered only about 4,000 items and didn't advertise. Members typically paid a $25-$35 annual membership fee.
Costco earned lawsuits from manufacturers by diverting cheap product lines intended for overseas consumption, such as clothing and bicycles, and stocking them in warehouses. Customers will often see a single brand of an item, which might change before their next visit.
In 1993, Costco merged with Price Club.
The first store was just a warehouse with a hot dog stand in front. In 1997, stores featured food courts, pharmacies, optical departments, photo processing, a mail-order business, health-care plans, home insurance, and a car-buying program for its members.