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Reporting In From Seattle, Washington…
Costco’s “Home” store in the Kirkland, Washington, just east of Seattle, gained a lot of publicity when it was announced because it represented a new direction for the company -- a warehouse club store that focused on just one of the categories featured in its traditional stores.

It was a fascinating notion: that Costco could fuel growth by stripping out specific categories for specialty stores. And the company added to the intrigue by announcing that it would also test a gourmet grocery warehouse -- an idea it abandoned a few months after it was announced, saying that it would give too much attention to a non-core part of the business.

Having visited the Costco “Home” store here is Seattle, we have to say that we think the company probably made the right decision – because we have to say that we just weren’t as impressed by the new format as we expected to be.

It carries bedding, carpeting/area rugs, fine furniture, lighting, office furniture, silk arrangements, wall décor, and window fashions -- and while there are some nice items included, largely the selection seemed to be pretty tacky. Now, we recognize that this is a matter of taste -- that was is “tacky” to us might be a treasure to someone else. But the selection was just underwhelming, and not at all the treasure trove that we’ve found traditional Costco stores to be.

If the company had followed this path in a gourmet grocery warehouse, we fear that the result would have been mediocre, not inspiring -- we were sort of hoping for Costco’s version of the fabulous Jungle Jim’s International Market. But that doesn’t seem to be the plan.

That said, it probably isn’t fair to criticize a format Costco hasn’t even opened yet. But the “Home” store -- which compounds its problems by being in a remote office park that is very difficult to find -- clearly is just step one in a longer journey that Costco may be planning to take.
KC's View: