The new Costco, a 157,500-square-foot facility and gas station located U.S. Highway 83 and 57th Avenue Northeast in northern Bismarck, will open its doors Tuesday morning, Aug. 25, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony and speech by Mayor Steve Bakken.
“People are always asking if we can get a Costco in the western part of the state,” said Susan Holloway, project coordinator for the Bismarck Costco, noting that western North Dakota residents have been requesting a Costco for several years.
The nearest Costco to Bismarck is in West Fargo, and residents in western North Dakota can drive all the way to Billings, Mont., before they hit another Costco.
Last August, Bismarck city commissioners voted 4-1 to annex land along the edge of the city to make way for the new development and incorporate it into the city. The city commission also agreed to pitch in $2.1 million, matched by another $2 million from Costco, to renovate intersections outside the development, repaving Highway 83 and constructing two new traffic lights to accommodate a traffic surge at the location.
Then-Commissioner Shawn Oban, who did not run for reelection last fall and no longer serves on the commission, was the only commissioner to object to the plan, citing the significant allocation of taxpayer dollars to renovate the intersection.
Costco, which developed a cult following in may parts of the country, is moving into a competitive market in central North Dakota. Bismarck is already home to several big-box stores, including one Target, a Sam’s Club, two Walmarts, and a third Walmart across the river in Mandan.
But the Bismarck population has seen steady growth for decades, with the capital city’s rate of expansion picking up significantly in the last ten years. Costco cited this consistent growth and central location as major factors in their decision to open the new outlet.
Bakken added that, because of Bismarck’s key location in the region, the city will have more than enough commerce to accommodate a new big-box store.
“The thing with Bismarck is we’re a regional hub for a lot of things,” he said. “In western North Dakota, we’re kind of the hub.
Bakken also noted Bismarck’s population is below the typical threshold that Costco looks for to open up a new store, but he said the company reevaluated its modeling when it realized how much of a magnet Bismarck is for the rest of the region.
“Their business made Costco realize that North Dakotans travel,” Bakken explained. “It’s nothing to drive an hour to get to the grocery store. We just like to drive.”
Costco, a multinational wholesale retailer, requires membership to shop, and the company holds close to 100 million subscribers worldwide.
In recent years, the company has grown at a rapid clip, and Kayla Campillo, regional marketing manager for the company’s Midwestern division, said Costco is expanding outlets in the Midwest more than in any other region in the United States.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at email@example.com.