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The Farragut Costco celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month. If you visit the store, you’ll see that enthusiasm for the membership warehouse club remains strong.
“I call it ‘controlled chaos,’” says Harker Weiss, the store’s new general manager. Lines of shoppers with overflowing carts are long, but an efficient checkout process keeps everyone moving.
The popularity of the warehouse and its impact on the town’s sales tax revenue motivated elected officials and staff to pursue Costco for years before the company finally opened the 145,000-square-foot store in November of 2012.
“It’s a worldwide brand and it’s a very well-run company with huge revenues,” says Town Administrator David Smoak, who participated in the recruitment of Costco. “That benefits the town long term given that we rely heavily on sales tax revenues.”
Weiss says the Farragut Costco averages between $700K and $800K in sales each day and is one of the best-producing stores in the state. He came to Tennessee in July from Danville, Calif., where his store averaged over $1M in sales per day. California shoppers are more familiar with warehouse shopping and spend less time in the store, he says.
Tennesseans take their time selecting merchandise. They also like to chat, and Weiss enjoys going out on the floor to talk to customers. In California, shoppers would be suspicious if you tried to chat with them, he laughs.
His family attended a wedding near the Smokies last year and loved the area, so they were excited to have the opportunity to make the move to Tennessee.
“I’ve been greeted with open arms ever since I got here,” he says.
He’s put his mark on the store by changing up the merchandise floor. He likes to keep merchandise on the ground, rather than on shelves, to make it easier for customers to reach. He also rearranges items based on seasonal needs. For instance, he’s put pallets of wine near the front of the store since shoppers need wine for holiday meals. As a California native, he’s passionate about wine.
Seasonal merchandise also sells well “on the fence.” The “fence” is the wall to the right of the entrance. It’s a place where shoppers do a lot of impulse buying, and he likes to stand on the floor and watch what’s selling well there.
Weiss says he has good employees and expects a lot of success from the Farragut store in the future. He encourages those who aren’t already members to give Costco a try.
“Buy a membership, and if you don’t like it, you can get your money back.”
The Town of Farragut agrees. The more members, the more sales tax revenue. Remember to shop in Farragut to keep tax dollars local!