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    Costco to Test Fresh Concept in Washington State

    ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Warehouse-club chain Costco, based in Issaquah, Wash., has announced plans to build a 106,000-square-foot Costco Fresh store at a former Kmart in Bellevue, Wash., the Seattle Times reports.

    ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Warehouse-club chain Costco, based in Issaquah, Wash., has announced plans to build a 106,000-square-foot Costco Fresh store at a former Kmart in Bellevue, Wash., the Seattle Times reports.

    The company originally unveiled the Costco Fresh concept three years ago, proposing the grocery-centered format for several new stores in Manhattan. Costco abandoned those plans in 2000 amid opposition from neighborhood activists, who raised concerns about traffic and other possible impacts.

    Chairman Jeff Brotman said he hopes the concept will be embraced in the Northwest, where the Costco brand is trusted by consumers.

    Brotman said the store would offer "huge selections of all types of gourmet products," including groceries, wine and beer at the low prices the chain is known for.

    "It gives us an opportunity to expand in categories where we think we've learned a lot," Brotman said, noting fresh food has been among the fastest-growing segments of Costco's business in recent years.

    The store would depart from a traditional Costco store and "focus almost exclusively on grocery and associated services, with special attention to fresh produce, meats, seafood, and baked goods," according to an application filed with the city. It would include a pharmacy, cafe and optical and photo departments.

    The Costco Fresh store would be an experiment, like the new furniture and home-furnishings store the company plans to open in Kirkland, Wash. The store would be Costco's first in Bellevue and serve as a testing ground for products Costco might consider selling at its warehouses.

    Costco signed a lease last week and should be moved in by late spring, the site's property manager told the newspaper. He would not disclose terms of the lease.

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