The Clovis Costco relocated in 2019. File photo

published on April 28, 2022 - 9:42 AM
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Visalia’s biggest retailer wants to build a second store in northwest Visalia.  “I think it could happen quickly,” said Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen. The world’s fifth-largest retailer has reportedly dedicated land at the northwest corner of Shirk Road and Riggin Avenue — open land currently zoned for industrial use. Nelsen says he does not believe rezoning the corner for retail commercial use “should be a big deal.”

“I don’t see any reason why we could not have this store up and running in a year and half,” Nelson said.

Construction of these big commercial buildings using a “tilt-up concrete” technique to quickly erect industrial buildings shortens development time.

Word has spread of the NW Visalia plan with council member Liz Wynn at a recent public meeting saying she had heard “it’s done deal.”

Even administrative staff at the existing Visalia Costco responding to questions said that the rumor is true but that it could be a couple of years before a store was operational.

The Visalia Costco remains one of the busiest retailers in town and is said to be near the top in sales in the chain. In 2018 it was estimated the store generated $230 million in sales annually and increasing every year. As it is, the Visalia Costco is likely the top contributor to Visalia’s all-important sales tax revenue with an anticipated increase year after year. Indeed Visalia sales tax revenue in the most recent year was up 14%. The trend has helped spread the notion that Visalia is experiencing “boom times” — something this news will do little to cool off.

As to the location at the northwest edge of the city, it appears to be the pattern Costco followed to build their existing Visalia store in 2007 and the Hanford store — both at the edge of town on land cheaper than in the heart of the retail district. Costco knows that picking a location like this won’t hurt business since shoppers will beat a path to their door – wherever it is.


Northside growth

Like other national retailers in Visalia, growth in the north side of town has brought a number of the popular Mooney Avenue retailers like Target to set up shop six miles north along Dinuba Boulevard that is filling-in fast. It has drawn crowd-pleasers like In-N Out and El Pollo Loco. Now Tractor Supply is coming too.


Costco at edge of industrial boom area

But Costco has apparently made a big leap to the west to where there are no retailers. Instead, this area to the west is booming with industrial buildings. The property they selected is owned by the farmer developer partnership Ritchie-Vidovich,  who have big plans for some 320 acres behind this retail building. The layout of the Costco will no doubt try to separate all the retail activity from the planned industrial blocks where up to 3 million square feet of warehouses is on the drawing board. Shoppers and big rigs and workers from Amazon and UPS ought not to interact to the degree planners can help. Shirk is where Visalia’s industrial area turns to residential.

The site’s location has the opportunity to draw from northern Tulare County and southern Fresno County, bringing new shoppers to this Costco just 15 minutes from Dinuba. The closest store to the northwest is Clovis.

Not many towns have two Costco stores — particularly ones with less than 200,000 population. But a look at pending subdivisions and multi-family projects along with the impressive industrial pipeline must have spread the fever to Costco site-locators that this city’s prospects are good. Now everyone wants to know — when will Trader Joe’s get the word?

In 2021, Costco was ranked #10 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. As of March 2022, Costco has 828 warehouses worldwide: 572 in the United States.

In February 2021, Costco announced that it would be raising the starting rate for its hourly store workers in the United States to $16 an hour. Today it is $20 an hour with reports of mostly happy workers. The average store has 250 to 300 employees.

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