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New Bakerview Costco draws shoppers for grand opening, just in time for holidays

Customers come and go from the new Costco on West Bakerview Road during the grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Bellingham.
Customers come and go from the new Costco on West Bakerview Road during the grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

Shoppers packed Costco’s new Bakerview store Saturday as it opened just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Managers counted more than 1,000 members to the store in the first hour after its doors opened at 8 a.m., said Andrea Lowden, the store’s warehouse manager. At about 9:40, a steady stream of shoppers ran from the store’s entrance with full carts.

The opening of the new store, at 4125 Arctic Ave., near the Bakerview Fred Meyer, was the culmination of about 7 years’ worth of planning and work, said Rusty Millsap, the store’s assistant general manager.

At 162,000 square feet, the size of the new store is its main advantage over the old location, where Millsap worked for 10 years before going to the Burlington location.

“At the height of the Canadian traffic, the old store was busting at the seams,” he said, adding that the Meridian store started losing customers to Burlington and even Marysville stores. “It was time to give this community the better facility it deserves.”

The bigger space means more items to choose from, Millsap said. Among the offerings Saturday were large racks of Patagonia jackets, shelves stacked with Canon digital cameras and glass display cases full of jewelry, including $79,000 earrings.

Some items, like the endcap of HP Omen X Gaming Desktop computers, were brought in specifically for the new store’s opening and couldn’t be found at any other location, Millsap said.

“It’s definitely bigger,” said Jilly Shakeshaft, 54, of Langley, B.C., adding that she had frequented the old store. “It’s nice that there’s more selection, because for me, it’s all about the choice.”

Lowell Bleiler, 73, of White Rock, B.C., also said selection was the main draw for him and pointed to two items in his cart – Manuka honey and saffron – that, he said, he would have never found in the Meridian store.

Derek Barnes, 48, of Ferndale, said the store’s space was a welcome change from the old location, and that he, too, liked the variety.

The store worked with Bellingham police, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and the state Department of Transportation to keep traffic flowing on opening day, Millsap said. They will do the same closer to the holiday shopping season, he added.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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