The changing face of Costco’s shoppers

Image from Sarah Hamilton.

“Costco is the epitome of capitalism”- Parth Mahale

In light of the new Costco opening in New Park Mall on November 18th, 2023, it is important to discuss the impact of Costco on students, teachers, and parents in the Washington High School community. 

Once a simple store with everything adults needed, Costco has found a new customer base: high schoolers. 

Over the course of Costco’s roughly 50-year history, the target market has mainly been those between 35 and 60–a store that has everything is the obvious choice for a demographic constantly running out of time. However, that has recently changed. Many high school students regard Costco as the holy grail: it has clothes, food, and, most importantly, free food samples. Numerous factors are responsible for this uptick in interest in the warehouse store, yet it signifies a more remarkable generational shift. 

The simple business model of Costco has sparked joy in many teenagers’ hearts. As Sanskrity Singh, a senior at Washington High School, puts it, “I love that everything is in bulk.” The satisfaction of finding a sought-after product and discovering that you can have a gigantic quantity of it is unmatched. This reflects a more significant trend in many teenagers’ shopping habits–they’re more likely to enjoy something they know they got a great deal on. A survey by Retailmenot places the guilt factor for teenagers after purchasing an expensive product at a whopping 69%, the second highest of all age groups. The low cost of many Costco items, paired with more products for less money, significantly lowers teenagers’ guilt, making it much more attractive for them to shop at Costco. 

However, the popularity of Costco has its drawbacks. The stores in Pacific Commons and Hayward are crowded at all times, weekdays and weekends alike. Lines are frequently more than 10-15 minutes, and supplies run out surprisingly quickly. The new location at New Park Mall is a prime spot for many due to the Farmers’ Market held there every Sunday, and its proximity to housing in both Fremont and Newark. The opening of the new store will be fantastic for adults, high schoolers, and parents alike. Mr. Block, a teacher who frequents Costco and lives in Newark, is “very excited about it. I cannot wait till October 26th.”* His close proximity will make trips there much more frequent, something he is ecstatic about. The presence of Costco Gasoline will only aid this. Sushma Mahale, the parent of a student at Washington High School, travels “to Costco for the cheap gasoline prices, while stopping in the store and buying whatever we need there.” 

The impact on high school students will also be significant. Many stores in New Park Mall cater to a teenage audience, with AMC, a major theater, connected to the mall and allowing teenagers to explore the area after watching a movie. The presence of a new Costco will drive sales in the depreciating mall, which has faced mounting vacancies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families will travel to the mall after shopping at Costco, providing a lucrative location for many businesses to grow and earn sales. Parth Mahale agrees: “many people come to Costco and buy stuff from other stores in the Costco area, especially near Pacific Commons. I feel like the same thing will happen at New Park Mall.” The presence of more stores and people will encourage teenagers to spend more time in New Park Mall. 

However, Costco is not without its drawbacks. Costco makes it much easier for lower-quality products to be sold to consumers. Yet, many consumers are okay with this compromise as it allows them to get necessary products in bulk and at once in the expansive warehouse. 

*Opening was postponed to November 18th

Atharva Sonune, currently in his Junior Year, has had a diverse upbringing that spans India, Ohio, and California. Embarking on his inaugural year at the paper, Atharva brings a fervent curiosity for journalism. His passions encompass a wide array of topics, including emerging technology, economics, and politics. Beyond the world of writing, Atharva actively engages as a dedicated DECA member, is interested in guitar, and loves to edit videos. He wishes to hone his photography skills and is currently focusing on getting ready for college applications next year.

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