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Here’s the dirt : Costco welcomes the competition

Fri., Dec. 15, 2006

Sam’s Club may be moving into Costco’s territory, but the Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer isn’t flinching.

“We’ve had a lot of experience when they come in near us and nothing happens to our business,” said Jeff Brotman, chairman and co-founder of Costco Wholesale Corp.

“We really dominate in our type of market,” he said.

Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., recently purchased property adjacent to the Spokane Valley Costco, and is also proceeding with plans to build a store in North Spokane, at Nevada Street and Lincoln Road — not far from the Costco store on North Division.

The two chains offer discounted general merchandise, groceries and other products in warehouse settings that are open to members who pay an annual fee. According to Hoover’s, a company that researches corporations, Costco and Sam’s both had about 47 million customers.

However, the two companies differ significantly when it comes to employee pay and benefits. Costco workers average $17 an hour, while experts estimate Wal-Mart employee wages to be $5 to $7 per hour less than that.

Costco opened its first local store on Third Avenue in 1983 and followed with its North Division store, located in Spokane County, in 1993. About six years ago Costco closed its Third Avenue store and built and opened a store in Spokane Valley.

Brotman said the two shopping clubs routinely move into one another’s territory, but cater to different demographics.

Fortune Magazine recently reported that a third of Costco’s customers have household incomes of $75,000 a year or more.

Grapetree Village lands new restaurant

Grapetree Village, a mixed-use development on 29th Avenue, is coming together nicely with the arrival of yet another business.

Villaggio Pizza Wine Martinis is starting construction on a space and is expected to open in January or February, said Cannies Seddon, who owns the restaurant with her husband Steve Seddon.

“This is our little venture. It’s our second baby, of course,” Cannies Seddon said.

This is the first restaurant for the couple, although Steve Seddon has more than 20 years experience at Hot Rod Café in Post Falls, The Coeur d’Alene Resort and C.I. Shenanigans, she said.

Villaggio will have a centerpiece brick oven where pizza, and other dishes, are cooked in view of seated guests. Other fresh specialties include seafood, paninis, pasta, appetizers, salads and homemade desserts.

The restaurant, located at 2013 E. 29th Ave., will seat more than 40 customers inside and have a menu of martinis, fine wine and micro brews and a heated and covered patio for outdoor eating.

Glen A. Cloninger & Associates of Spokane designed the retail complex, which is modeled after elements of buildings in Carmel, Calif., a quaint seaside community. The project is owned by Grapetree Partnership.

Condos headed south

A century-old Craftsman style building on Sumner Avenue near St. John’s Cathedral will become four luxury condos.

Marianne Guenther, a Windermere Realtor representing Cathedral Point, said work will begin on the project this spring.

Condos inside the four-story building will start at $387,000 for an unfinished shell and go as high at $693,000, a flier for the development said.

The condos hit the Multiple Listing Service on Tuesday, generating immediate phone calls.

“I’ve been getting probably four or five calls a day,” Guenther said.

Units will have 2,200 square feet, with the exception of a unit that will have an additional 1,500 square feet of space.

Jordalen Tangen Development LLC is the developer and Kertz Construction will do the work. The architect is NP Architecture.


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