An original employee of the first location, 25-year Costco employee Darren Danylchuk, reflective vest, stands in the new store on Anaquod Road in the city's east end on Friday. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
Darren Danylchuk remembers starting work as a stocker at the old Costco store when it opened in 1993.
“I was there for Day 1, almost, of the old building,” said Danylchuk. “At that time, there was nothing around the building. Costco stood by itself and everything built around it.”
The company says the new location also features 18 cash registers, which is more than the old location, and larger parking spaces.
The same was true of Regina’s new Costco store, which opened Friday morning to great fanfare by staff and shoppers alike.
After a ribbon cutting ceremony shortly after 7:30 a.m., the store’s employees and a few dignitaries applauded and cheered the steady stream of more than 200 shoppers who had lined up.
General manager Kevin Vanstone (centre) and Costco Regina employees gather to celebrate the grand opening of Costco Regina on Anaquod Road in east Regina on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. Ashley Martin / Leader-Post
Shoppers lined up early Friday morning to be the first ones through the door of the new Regina Costco.
“I think I was first in the parking lot. I was here at 10 after 6 .… I just like to be first in everything I do,” Murray explained.
Since moving to Regina from Edmonton last year, where there are five big Costco stores, the old Regina location at Victoria Avenue and University Park Drive took some getting used to.
“I think we’ve had a really small store for quite a while and I think this offers a lot more opportunities for shopping, and I think it’s just a really great idea.”
The new Costco, in far-east Regina off the new Aurora Boulevard, is markedly different from the old one. It’s brighter and more spacious.
There are 295 more parking stalls, for a total 845. The gas station is twice the size and in a separate area of the parking lot.
There are four additional tills and a “split centre” with three access points to reach the cashiers.
“Just more choices,” said Kevin Vanstone, the store’s general manager for five years.
“About 100 of them are food items, because we didn’t have a lot of space for those,” added Vanstone.
Now there’s a walk-in dairy cooler for milk and eggs. The walk-in produce cooler is larger than the old store.
The new Costco store contains a large, walk-in cooler for dairy and eggs, which the old store didnt have. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
“Everything is bigger, it’s better, can’t complain about that,” said Danylchuk, who explored the new store Friday morning before his shift in the tire department.
Because the old store was originally a Price Club, “All the different departments that moved in over the years; the building wasn’t designed for it,” added Danylchuk. “The coolers and freezers had to be moved several times because it wasn’t an original fit. … The optical department moved at least three times, photo had to move three or four times over the years. So now everything’s in one set place.”
For the past three months, staff members have been working to run the old store, while setting up the new one.
“A lot of planning. That was the challenging part, having people to run that place and still serve our members while we’re trying to build this,” said Vanstone.
The old Costco store, at a corner of University Park Drive near Victoria Avenue, closed at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Gail Butz, right, a 12-year employee, greets customers at the new Costco Regina location. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
“There was a bunch of tears,” said Vanstone. “We had 27 employees that opened that building originally when it was a Price Club, so there was lots of tears through the day.”
“I had mixed feelings. It was like home. I will have to say, I did cry the last day,” Gail Butz said with a laugh.
As a 12-year employee, she’s a familiar face at the Regina Costco doors, checking membership cards or receipts as people enter or exit the store.
The old store was “so small, and this is just fabulous. It’s just going to be so wonderful for our members to have so much more space and product and stuff,” she added.
It’s good news for the Regina economy, too, in the estimation of Mayor Michael Fougere and Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO John Hopkins, who both attended the store’s grand opening.
“The thing about a Costco or something like this, is it’s an anchor. So now that there’s an anchor here in place, what it’ll probably do is drive some other sales,” said Hopkins. “Some other (businesses) will want to be here because people are coming from all over the province to come to this Costco.”
“They service about half a million people in our market area, in southern Saskatchewan … So this is a reflection of growth. So you’re going to see more retail development happen here and because of that, more residential development as well in the future.”
Though it’s a common sight at shiny new Costco stores, there is no Costco Liquor store in Aurora — yet.