published Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

It's finally Costco time

by Andy Johns

FORT OGLETHORPE -- Eighteen hours before the store's grand opening this morning, Costco crews were breaking out the champagne ... and hurrying to put it on the shelves.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Tim Beckett carries a box of apples Tuesday as he and other workers prepare the new Costco store at the Cloud Springs Road exit on Interstate 75 for the grand opening at 8 a.m. today.

The much-anticipated warehouse club in Fort Oglethorpe -- which opens its doors to members at 8 a.m. -- had to wait for its state alcohol licenses to be approved late Monday night before trucks could deliver pallets and pallets of wine and beer.

And it was still arriving the middle of Tuesday afternoon.

"It's slowly rolling out," said store General Manager Bob Palermo, watching as crews loaded the waiting displays. "It's all the detail work now."

Palermo, who opened a Costco in Hunstville, Ala., 10 years ago, said most everything was ready to go for the opening, pending one final inspection by officials, who flew in from the company's headquarters in Washington state.

"If they have changes, some of us won't go home (overnight)," he said with a laugh.

Roger Campbell, senior vice president for Costco's Southeast Region, came into town earlier Tuesday and said the store looks ready.

"We'll be prepared at 8 a.m. [this] morning to do business and hopefully do a lot," he said.

Campbell said he was "very happy" with the number of memberships the club had sold and had a "good feel" about the store's success. He declined to release the specifics.

A month ago, Palermo said the store would employ about 150 workers but could hire more from the 11,000 applicants if advance memberships were higher than expected. The work force for the opening has swollen to about 180, according to management.

Among those standing in line for membership Tuesday afternoon was Ron Henderson from Ooltewah. He said he's been a Sam's Club member since 2003, but wanted to come check out his club's chief competitor.

"I thought I might come down and see if I like it better than Sam's," said Henderson, who opened a business account at Costco on Tuesday.

The effect of a Costco in the area has not gone unnoticed by Sam's officials, he said. Earlier this week, he received a free renewal and membership upgrade from Sam's in the mail.

"They hadn't sent me one before, and I'd been there seven years," he said.

Claude Wood drove 80 miles from his home near Pikeville, Tenn., to see the store.

"We have to come down to do some shopping every once in a while so we thought we'd try Costco," he said, mentioning low prices particularly on gas as his motivation. "If I can save 3 cents or 5 cents, it adds up."

Contact Andy Johns at or call 423-757-6324.

Click here to vote in our daily poll: Will you travel to Georgia to shop at Costco?

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Costco preparing for business

Article: Lines already forming at Costco

Article: Costco loads shelves

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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fftspam said...

Why did they build in Fort O? Hear that sucking sound??

That is the sound of sales tax getting sucked across the border.

An average Costco does 130 Million Dollars.

All that sales tax is being sucked from Chattanooga and sent to Fort O.

Why? Straight from a person in the know who put the Costco Pres and the Ceo on a helicopter to look at potential sites all over the area. But why did they choose Fort O??

They can sell wine in the store in Georgia.

Something, Praise be lord almighty, State Senator Bow Tie Bo Watson is so adamantly against.

October 27, 2010 at 3:38 a.m.
andyjohns said...

fftspam: Here's a link to a story we did on that very topic: -Andy

October 27, 2010 at 9:19 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

fftspam, quit your whinning, Tn made their rules about wine sales (the driking kind) and it benefitted Ga. I don't mind a 10 minute ride to Costco, which I would prefer over Sams club anyday. Tuff stuff pal

October 27, 2010 at 9:41 a.m.
mkelley said...

My fellow Georgians spend in Chattanooga all the time. So why is it so wrong for Tennesseans to spend in Georgia?

October 27, 2010 at 9:54 a.m.
bobw said...

the map on this article is completely wrong

October 27, 2010 at 10:09 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

That sucking sound you hear is walmart and sams club management's tail end puckering up.

Oh no.. employees are going to expect living wages now.

October 27, 2010 at 10:10 a.m.
Oz said...

Now...If Trader Joe's would move in next door to Costco life would be good.

October 27, 2010 at 9:28 p.m.
dailygrace said...

Here's just the way it is NOT just about alcohol sales. That sorry line has been overused...let's face it, what happened to all the lottery money that was going to bail us out of everything once we got it? I already drive from Dayton to Dalton once a month to do my major shopping at the Kroger there. They will double and triple coupons, the food tax is much cheaper and then we always get a good discount on the gas at the station there for shopping at is a great savings for us. I was told they were talking about putting a Kroger there in Fort O...with it and the Costco there (which I like much better than Sam's) that is where I will be spending my money. It has more to do with the food tax and what they have available that I simply can't get here. And heck, they move a Trader Joes there and I might have to think about a move.

October 27, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.
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