Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 | 2 a.m.
By the time you read this, the first Costco Business Center in Las Vegas will be open.
The store, one of only seven in the country, is on Martin Luther King Boulevard in the same space that was occupied by a traditional Costco for more than 20 years.
The store is open to all Costco members, but is designed to serve business customers.
The store has been completely remodeled and bears little resemblance to its predecessor. Gone are the apparel, jewelry, sporting goods, pharmacy and in-store dining areas.
Apologies to Costco hot dog lovers everywhere.
Those items are still available at the three traditional Costco stores in the Las Vegas Valley, but everything from the store hours to the product selection at the Costco Business Center is designed to attract business customers.
The business center is intended to be a combination office supply store, restaurant wholesaler and convenience store supplier in one location.
A full-service print and copy center and an increased selection of products for almost all business environments, including restaurant, hospitality, convenience store and professional office are the focus of Costco Business Centers.
“We’re gearing up for all of the local businesses,” said Scott Sims, the store’s general manager. “There’s still a good amount of the normal retail items, but there’s just more of a flavor of business.”
Customers can buy anything from copiers and printer paper to tobacco products, canned food, meat and kitchen utensils, in bulk or in smaller quantities.
Restaurant customers don’t have to buy 10 spatulas if they only need one. Convenience store owners can buy a dozen packages of tuna instead of a gross. On the other hand, if a customer needs several cases of copy paper or a whole skid of motor oil, he can get that, too.
“The idea is to provide customers the items that they need in quantities that make sense for them,” Sims said.
A few of the changes should benefit both business clients and retail customers.
The bakery, for example, will have individually wrapped products to better accommodate resellers, but the increased shelf life of these items should also appeal to retail customers.
One difference business customers will notice right away is the increased selection of items, as compared to a traditional Costco. Instead of two or three flavors of Gatorade, for example, the business center has about 40. Sims said the center also has the flexibility to custom order items based on customer demand, which is something traditional stores cannot do.
Costco Business Centers also offer two expos when customers can save more on selected “hot buy” items. Costco offered an extra expo Feb. 19 and 20 to celebrate the scheduled grand opening of the Martin Luther King center. The next expo will be March 26 and 27.
The business center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. The store is closed on Sunday, as is the Costco gas station on the property.
The store only takes cash, checks, debit cards and American Express.
Delivery service will also be available throughout the Las Vegas Valley and Sims said it might be expanded at some point to include neighboring towns such as Pahrump. Customers can order online, fax or phone and online customers can pay with Visa, Master Card or American Express. Delivery drivers accept checks, but they do not take cash.
The Costco Business Center also offers credit terms through a third party.
Sims said the Martin Luther King site was chosen for the business center because it is centrally located and should be easily accessible for customers and as a delivery hub.
He said the response to the change has been overwhelmingly positive, but he has a message for those disappointed customers who can no longer pop in for a Costco hot dog.
“We still sell the hot dogs, the buns and the ovens, so if they really miss them, they can still get them,” he said. “They just have to make them themselves now, or they can always go to one of the traditional Costco stores in the valley and get them.”