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Costco opening not feared by local businesses

Despite a hefty South Shore membership base and frenzied shopping day in Carson City Friday, some South Lake Tahoe retail managers with similar product lines seem either relaxed, complacent or silent about the impact of Costco’s appearance on the scene.

“I don’t feel that a lot of people (from the South Shore) will drive that far,” Kmart Store Manager Jerry Austin said from the Y location.

No comments came out of the local Smart & Final and Raley’s.



Albertson’s management doubts that local shoppers would be motivated to go down the hill to pick up a quart of milk, for example.

In contrast, Costco plans to carry between 3,800 to 4,000 items at one time, compared to 40,000 in a typical grocery store.



Still, Store Manager Dennis Schmedes acknowledged that loyal Reno Costco shoppers will probably end up in the Nevada capital.

“They might go more often,” Schmedes said, comparing the Reno drive to a Carson City one.

Indeed, more than 2,900 cardholders from the South Shore and 1,800 from Stateline are expected to “take the load off” the Reno store, Costco Store Manager Bob Tote said Friday during the busy grand opening.

“I was surprised by how the weather didn’t dampen (the shoppers’) spirits,” Tote said. “(But) I knew these customers were waiting for us.”

A mile-long line of cars waiting to make the turn into the parking lot at 8:45 a.m. threw out the welcome mat to the big-box store.

Once inside, the hard-core shoppers who braved the elements of a whiteout that blanketed the Carson Valley that morning scattered about the 14,000-square-foot store.

Friday’s estimates of shoppers – many hitting the Costco conventional toilet paper and paper towel shelves – fall between 500 to 600 people. The company has hired a crew of 205 to serve these customers and beefed up the food-sample displays for the opening.

And where the tax dollars end up is a whole other matter.

“Sure, I want to keep (them) here whenever it’s possible,” South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis said of the prospect of another Carson City big-box store siphoning off local retail business.

“But it’s been going on for years,” Davis added, acknowledging land-use regulations and the history of shopping patterns that have become a reality on the South Shore.

“It’s a Catch 22,” he said, noting he’ll probably shop at the store for its inventory, prices and convenience.

The new Costco store is located on the Carson City-Douglas County line, north of its superstore counterparts Home Depot and Target.


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