published Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Costco loads shelves

Discounter’s staff hastens toward late October opening


by Andy Johns
  • photo
    Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Eric Zimmerman unloads Christmas lights as the first pallets of merchandise arrive at the new Costco in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., on September 28, 2010.

FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga. — As the first loads of merchandise came into the Costco Wholesale Club on Tuesday, forklifts weaved around each other, moving pallets of gift wrap, microwaves, cosmetic bags and shop stools.

When a new truck carrying luggage, body butter and a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lawn ornament arrived, crews quickly shuttled the last few pallets of iPod speakers, humidifiers and snow boards from the previous load out of the way.

The activity will be a familiar sight for the 80 or so employees as crews fill rows of shelves leading up to Costco’s Oct. 27 opening.

“It’s nice having everything brand new,” said General manager Bob Palermo.

The store’s gas station opened to members Friday. The store began selling memberships Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday, crews installed cash registers while landscapers put down sod. In the receiving area, the third shipment of shopping buggies arrived. Yellow sticky notes with words such as “pasta, rice, tomatoes” and “cereal” marked the shelves.

Overall, Palermo said he is happy with the progress.

“I’ve been at openings where we’ve been planting trees the night before,” said Palermo. “We’re well ahead of schedule.”

The club has more than half of its planned 150 employees already at work. As of Tuesday morning, Palermo said he had hired 35 local residents and taken 44 transfers from Costco stores as far away as California.

Managers will resume interviews for remaining jobs next week, but the office has been flooded with more than 11,000 applications. Three of the employees already hired are Costco employees who live in Northwest Georgia and have been commuting to the store in Kennesaw.

Human resources administrator Dawn Ewers, who lives in Dalton, Ga., was making the three-hour round trip to the Cobb County store daily until she landed a transfer to the new store.

“I’m so excited about that,” said Ewers, whose commute will drop to about 25 minutes one way.

Shoppers are also excited.

Jenny Williams, of Boynton, Ga., and a group of friends stopped by the Costco gas station to fill up.

“This will be great for this area,” she said.

Costco member and Red Bank resident Raymond Taft also stopped by for a fill-up Tuesday.

“They give you over and above what the others stores do,” said Taft, a former Costco employee.

His wife, Jeanne, said she is looking forward to the service, selection and experience of shopping at the Costco.

“You don’t get a lot of that at other stores,” she said.

Contact Andy Johns at ajohns@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6324.

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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MasterChefLen said...

Finally Sam's Club has competition after being the only game in town for so many years.

September 29, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.
whatever said...

Is there a third warehouse chain around, one who will build somewhere else?

September 29, 2010 at 12:25 p.m.
keithandmissy said...

@whatever There is also a chain called BJ's Wholesale but I wouldn't expect them to open a store here. They aren't doing as well financially as either Sam's Club or Costco right now. I would expect Sam's Club to potentially try to open another store to compete with Costco. They bought land in Cleveland, TN on Paul Huff Parkway but looks like it is delayed. It is supposed to be smaller than the Chattanooga Sam's Club and a new type of store for Sam's. If Sam's does open in Cleveland that would maybe stop most customers from Bradley County from driving to Costco (or the Chattanooga Sam's Club) since they would be right in town. We'll just have to wait and see.

October 2, 2010 at 10:45 p.m.
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