Issaquah-based Costco earns high marks in survey of grocery chains

April 3, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. April 3, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco earned high marks among 52 major grocery chains in a Consumer Reports survey released Tuesday.

The largest warehouse club chain in the United States clinched the No. 5 spot on the list. Survey respondents lauded Costco for price, products and shopping environment, but dinged the retail giant for customer service.

The 24,203 Consumer Reports subscribers involved in the survey rated Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix and Fareway in the top spots in the survey. (Trader Joe’s operates a store in Issaquah at Pickering Place.)

Though Costco earned points for a selection of quality meat and produce, a clean shopping environment and budget-friendly prices, the chain faltered in the service category, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed.

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Costco-backed I-1183 aims to remove state from liquor business

September 20, 2011

Months after a measure to privatize the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system failed, Issaquah-based Costco ordered another round, and spearheaded a similar measure for the November ballot.

Initiative 1183 aims to remove the state from the business of distributing and selling hard liquor. The measure is less comprehensive than Initiative 1100, a Costco-backed privatization measure rejected last November.

A colorful brand of Puerto Rican rum occupies a shelf at the state liquor store on Northwest Gilman Boulevard. By Greg Farrar

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Unlike the unsuccessful initiative from last year, I-1183 limits hard liquor sales to stores of at least 10,000 square feet. (The average Costco encompasses about 140,000 square feet.) I-1100 aimed to allow smaller retailers, such as gas stations and convenience stores, to sell hard liquor.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

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Costco adopts sustainable seafood policy after Greenpeace campaign

March 1, 2011

Costco agreed to pull 12 fish species from display cases after Greenpeace targeted the company for seafood policies and sent a blimp to Issaquah to attract attention to the issue.

The Greenpeace airship A.E. Bates flies the banner ‘Costco: Wholesale Ocean Destruction’ over Costco corporate headquarters on June 30, 2010. File

Greenpeace called on Issaquah-based Costco to discontinue selling the fish — including Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, orange roughy and shark — threatened by overfishing.

Costco — the largest wholesale club in the United States and the largest employer in Issaquah — also pledged to pursue sound practices for farmed salmon and shrimp. The chain also has plans to focus on the environmental impact related to canned tuna.

“It is important that the items we offer our customers are those that we can continue to provide well into the future and to provide responsibly,” Jeff Lyons, Costco senior vice president for fresh foods, said in a statement. “Our policy will help us to continue to meet the demands of our customers, who look to us for high quality items at great value.”

The decision concludes a campaign launched last spring by Greenpeace to prod Costco to adopt a sustainable seafood policy.

Greenpeace sent a rainbow-patterned blimp to hover above Costco corporate headquarters and the flagship warehouse last June.

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Washington Best Bagger Contest / Oct. 21, 2010

October 26, 2010

Cashiers put state grocery title in the bag

October 26, 2010

Issaquah man competes in bag-off

The champions came from checkout lanes at mega-chains and from behind cash registers at mom-and-pop stores in every corner of the Evergreen State.

Dressed in uniforms of aprons and plastic nametags, the contenders stood poised for the signal to start the competition.

Nathan Frerker (right), a cashier at the Issaquah Trader Joe’s, smiles as judges inspect a grocery bag he packed during the annual Best Bagger Contest Oct. 21. By Greg Farrar

Ready. Set. Bag.

Forget, for a moment, the self-scan checkout lane. The annual Best Bagger Contest celebrates the skill — nay, the art — of packing groceries into paper, plastic or canvas.

The contenders included Nathan Frerker, 22, a cashier at the Issaquah Trader Joe’s. Before the Oct. 21 competition inside a SeaTac hotel ballroom, the Issaquah resident and Skyline High School alumnus packed a couple of bags as practice.

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