This story originally appeared in the
August 2003 issue. The service and
product sidebars have been updated.
Tips from Costco and its members
can help your business year-round
Stories by Will Fifield, T. Foster Jones, Stephanie E. Ponder,
Mark E. Stroder, Tim Talevich and David Wight
Nurture thy employees—with Costco
memberships. Many companies, such as
Canapés caterers in Frederick, Maryland
( www.canapescatering.com), give employees
Costco memberships as part of their benefits
package. “They love it. We love it, love it, love
it,” exclaims owner M.L. Carroll-Tilden, who
has 15 full-time workers.
Keep cost of goods low. When Seattle-
based Simon and Huey’s Doggoned Tasty
Treats ( www.simonandhuey.com) started
One of the keys to success in business—and in life—is a
willingness to learn from others. After all, nobody has
all of the answers. Some of the best ideas come when you
least expect them. The key, of course, is to keep your
knowledge antenna up whenever possible.
For many years, members have tuned in to Costco for products and services that have helped them start up, maintain and
grow their business.
Six years ago, for example, Susan Seiling started her digital imaging
photo-finishing lab business—West Coast Imaging (www.westcoast
imaging.com)—with the purchase of a CD drive from Costco’s
Clovis, California, warehouse. She began with one customer.“We now
have 1,500 clients and burn dozens of photo CDs each day,” Seiling
says. “Costco has played a direct role in keeping our costs down,
allowing us to invest our money in growing our business through
more employees, better benefits and more extensive services.”
And, through her Executive Membership, she’s also saving money
with Costco’s merchant credit-card processing, payroll processing and
check-printing programs.“We still drive the 45 miles to Costco from
our home in Oakhurst, but it’s well worth the journey,” Seiling says.
In keeping with Costco’s theme of offering value in bunches,
we’d like to offer 52 tips (go ahead and count ’em, they’re all there!)
for your small business. Many of these pearls came from savvy
members who are still learning on the job. We hope you’ll be able
to use a few of these tips to help your business achieve success.
3out, the company bought ingredients from
grocery stores—until they found Costco.
“We found the costs at Costco are significantly lower, particularly for honey,” says
Jessamy Whitsitt, president and co-owner.
“We can pass that on to our customers.”
Speed up your cash flow. Ed Hildreth,
owner of Sound Janitorial Supply in Tumwater,
Washington ( www.sjscme.com), is reducing
his cost of doing business thanks to Costco’s
merchant credit-card processing through
NOVA. “Our old credit-card system took two
or three days to batch and process,” he says.
“We now receive payments within 24 hours,
which allows us to pay off our line of credit
quicker and save money on interest charges.”
Walk your talk! Surprised that some of
her fitness instructors were serving doughnuts
and coffee after health education seminars and
exercise classes, SENioRs Unlimited (www.
seniorsunlimit.com) owner Kay Van Norman
of Bozeman, Montana, introduced Costco’s
Kirkland Signature Trail Mix, smoothies and
fruit as healthful alternatives. The healthy
change has brought in more word-of-mouth
participants. “Residents hear about the great
smoothies and come to the next seminar to
see what all the fuss is about,” she says.
Max out your Costco card. Spending
money at Costco comes easy to Judy Foster,
The Costco Connection • AUGUST 2006