Big store, big day: Tuesday opening day for Costco, area's newest big-box store
WEST FARGO - Craig Fiedler left the Red River Valley 25 years ago to become manager of a bakery in a Costco store in Washington state.
That Costco job was followed by others, including one in Billings, Mont., where Fiedler was working when he got a call from his father, who lives in Wheaton, Minn.
His dad let him know Costco was opening a store in West Fargo.
Fiedler wasted no time requesting a transfer.
He got the transfer and a fresh job title: assistant general manager for the new Costco store set to open Tuesday at 750 23rd Ave. E. in West Fargo.
The move is a homecoming of sorts for Fiedler and his wife, Linda, a Kindred native who worked for Costco for 25 years before recently retiring.
Craig Fiedler explains the family's commitment to the company this way:
"I love it because they take care of their employees. It's good pay, it's good benefits, and I also like it because they take good care of their members.
"Our guarantee is 100 percent money back. No questions asked," Fiedler said. "We do everything 100 percent."
The Fiedlers aren't the only ones who like Costco.
A recent Consumer Reports survey ranked the membership-based warehouse club No. 1 among major retail chains.
The magazine surveyed more than 26,000 subscribers about their shopping experiences at Costco, Kohl's, JCPenney, Target, Macy's, Meijer, Sears, Sam's Club, Kmart and Wal-Mart.
Costco earned top points for the quality and value of what it sells as well as for its store and website layouts.
The survey results didn't surprise Angela Bauer, manager of the new West Fargo Costco.
"Costco really prides itself on the quality of the product and the presentation of the product and trying to get the very best value to our members every day," she said.
"We're always going to find the best quality product at the best possible price for our members."
While showing visitors around the new store, Bauer pointed out where she feels Costco shines.
"Our fresh areas really separate us," she said, referring to giant coolers where dairy products and produce were being stocked.
She said the store's layout aims to make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for.
"It's open by design. We want people to see what's next," Bauer said.
The store features an optical shop with two optometrists who rent space: Dan Levin and Stacey Archibald.
Archibald is from Canada and has practiced in the Fargo-Moorhead area for about a year.
Levin, who is from West Fargo, has practiced in the area for about 24 years.
He approached Costco after driving by the site.
"It worked out perfect. I just was looking for a change," Levin said.
"I have a feeling we're going to be busier than we know what to do with, but that's going to be a good thing. We're looking forward to it."
Pay and benefits
Bauer said positions at Costco start at $11 an hour and all employees are guaranteed a minimum of 24 hours a week.
After six months, all workers receive full benefits, including medical, dental and eye insurance, and a 401(k) retirement plan.
The store has hired the 200 or so workers it needs to open - more than 3,000 applied - but Bauer said they are always looking for additional quality applicants.
"As we grow and expand, we'll continue to hire," she said.
Costco isn't the only major new retailer entering the Fargo-Moorhead market.
Sam's Club, which already has a location in Fargo, is planning a Moorhead store that will be located near Menards on 27th Avenue South near Interstate 94.
Sam's Club spokeswoman Delia Garcia declined to discuss how the company feels about competing with Costco, other than to say: "We're always focused on our customers and making sure we're serving our customers the right way and giving them the products that they need.
"Customers really make the decision, then, of where they want to shop," Garcia added.
Mark Vaux, West Fargo's economic development and community services director, said the city is happy with Costco's decision to build where it did.
He said one incentive the city provided was to designate that sales taxes generated by the store during its initial years will go to pay for developing infrastructure for the site, work that is typically paid through special assessments.
An annual membership is required in order to buy something at Costco, but there's nothing stopping someone from coming out to look around before deciding whether to join the club.
"As always, our memberships are 100 percent refundable at any time during that year," Bauer said.
An executive membership is $110. With that, customers earn 2 percent back on purchases. They also get two membership cards per household.
A Gold Star membership costs $55. That gets a household two membership cards, but customers earn no money back on purchases.
The new West Fargo Costco membership warehouse is the first Costco warehouse in North Dakota. It is the 440th in the United States and the 610th worldwide.
The store has several specialty departments, including a gas station, a fresh bakery, a fresh meat counter, fresh produce and a deli with rotisserie chicken.
It also has an optical department, a one-hour photo center, a tire center, a hearing aid center, a food court and a section where beer, wine and liquor are sold.
Costco VIP Day is from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. Visitors won't be able to make purchases, but they can tour the store and sign up for memberships.
People can also sign up for memberships from noon to 6 p.m. today. Signups done today will be handled at the entrance to the store.
Costco will open at 8 a.m. on its first day of business Tuesday. Regular store hours will be 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
The Costco gas station will open every day at 6 a.m.