I Shopped at a Costco Business Center — Here’s What I Discovered

Costco Business Center sign

Joseph G./Yelp

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Costco Business Center sign
Joseph G./Yelp

Taking Care of Business

While most of us make a pit stop to pick up supplies (and possibly a few treats) at a neighborhood Costco, far fewer of us head to a Costco Business Center. There are only 26 in the whole United States, so you’d be forgiven for not popping in or even realizing they exist. But for owners of small businesses like restaurants, theaters, and offices, it delivers — and it may give you exactly what you want, too. I stopped in at the one near me for the first time, and this is what I learned.

Related: 20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Costco

Costco Membership Card

You Don’t Need a Special Membership

Worried your plain vanilla Costco card won’t get you into this exclusive club? This is Costco, remember? All members are welcome regardless of membership level. (Not already a Costco member? You can apply here.)

Related: Surprisingly Expensive Products From Costco

Costco Business Center exterior
Liane Starr

The Hours Are Different

You might not love waiting around for your local Costco to open its doors at 10 a.m., but Costco Business Centers appeal to early birds with most opening at 7 a.m. However, doors do close earlier than regular Costco stores, shutting down at 6 p.m. instead of 8:30 p.m. Hours are even shorter on the weekends, when they close at 4 p.m. on Saturday and are closed entirely on Sunday.

Related: I Shopped at Costco for the First Time and This Is What I Learned

Costco Business Center parking lot
Liane Starr

The Store and the Parking Lot Are Surprisingly Manageable

While going to Costco can feel like entering a small city (especially when you have to walk from your car to the entrance far, far away), the Business Center near me had a smaller parking lot, a smaller warehouse, and (best of all), smaller crowds. While I was there on a Tuesday and not a weekend, the experience made me think it might be the right place to pick up a few items when the regular Costco is swarmed during the weekends.

Costco Business Center food court
Liane Starr

The Food Court Is the Same

If you think being all-business means there’s no room for churros, you are quite mistaken. The food court offers the same $1.50 hot dog special, chicken bakes, mocha freezes, and yes, churros that you’ve come to expect at any Costco run.

Related: Food Court Showdown: Costco vs. Sam's Club

Costco coupon book

There’s a Coupon Book

Walking through the gateway, an employee handed me a deal book – something I usually have to look for or request (if I remember) at a regular Costco. While I didn’t spend much time scanning through it at the store, I took it home to suss out some bargains in case I head back.

Costco Business Center Meat
Frank S./Yelp

The Scale of the Merchandise Is Quite Different

Apparently almost 70% of the stuff at a Business Center is unlike what’s on offer at your regular Costco. While you may be imagining all sorts of strange and unique foods for sale, I suspect this has more to do with the size of the merchandise than the product selection. For example, you can get pork at both locations, but it’s only at the Business Center that you can buy a whole pig for your next luau. 

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Costco Business Center frozen foods
Liane Starr

There Are a Ton of Cold Items

You can’t pick up toys or Halloween costumes at the Business Center, but that just means most of the store is devoted to food — and much of it is frozen or refrigerated. You’re sure to find items you don’t have at the grocery store or your regular Costco, but ones you might suspect you’ve stumbled across at a local eatery (and hopefully aren’t being passed off as homemade). I found frozen danishes, cinnamon buns, and premade turkey croissant sandwiches I’m pretty sure I’ve seen at coffee shops.

Related: Costco's Best Buys for Packing Your Freezer

Costco Business Center pizza
Sergio Z./Yelp

No Sheet Cakes for You

Before you get your hopes up that you can toss in a cake order or pick up a rotisserie chicken, bad news: While you can get hot dog buns and the like, there’s no on-site bakery or a spot to grab a freshly roasted chicken. You can, however, order a pizza in the food court.

Costco Business Center refrigerated area
Liane Starr

The Refrigerated Room Is Huge

Every Costco has a room or two where fresh dairy or perishable fruits get tucked away, but they’re puny compared to the refrigerated room at the Business Center I visited. Not only was it a huge space with everything from produce to meat to cheese, it supposedly had jackets to help customers handle the temperature. Given the heat outside, I found the cold to be a welcome respite.

Costco Business Center meat
Liane Starr

There’s a Lot of Meat

So. Much. Meat. While the quantities were probably too massive for any individual to consider without an extra freezer in the garage and a party on the books, the meat and cheese were not in short supply at the Business Center I went to, in case you’re worried about supply chain issues. 

Costco Business Center mayonnaise and soy sauce
Liane Starr

Condiments Are Massive-Size Only

If you’ve ever needed a 5-gallon bucket of soy sauce or 30-pounds of mayo, this is the place for you. 

Costco Business Center Frank's Red Hot Sauce
Liane Starr

We’re Not Kidding About the Massive Stuff

How about a gallon of Frank's Red Hot sauce? Or how about all the garlic powder a small army would be challenged to gulp down in a year? Whatever you do, resist the urge to buy spices here, as they’ll take up plenty of room and are guaranteed to get stale or go bad before you can use them. Unless, of course, you own a restaurant.

Related: 31 Things Not to Buy at Costco, Sam’s, or BJ’s

Costco Business Center paper towels
Liane Starr

There Are a Lot of Paper Products

Want paper toilet seat covers? A lot of them? No, more than that. Think big. There are paper towels, dispensers for the paper towels, food trays, you name it.

Costco Business Center toilet paper
Liane Starr

There’s Also Plenty of Toilet Paper

If there’s another run on toilet paper like what we saw during the pandemic, get yourself to a Business Center. They have plenty. 

Related: 21 Things You Never Knew About Toilet Paper

Costco Business Center interior
Winnie L./Yelp

Some Departments Are Missing

That smaller size comes at a price — Business Centers don’t have pharmacies, photo services, optical or hearing centers, furniture, gas stations, clothes, toys, books, electronics, jewelry, liquor, or home goods. And forget free samples. That may seem like a lot, but if you’re an impulse buyer, you might prefer a more streamlined store.

Costco Business Center snacks
Liane Starr

You Can Still Get Snacks

While the whole pigs (and goats) are available here, you’ll be happy to know that most snacks can be purchased in the same size as you’d find at a regular Costco, which may be in a bigger container or bag than you really want, but not so huge you suspect you have to start a business just to get rid of it.

Related: Addictive Costco Snacks You'll Be Happy You Bought in Bulk

Costco Business Center Reese's chocolate
Liane Starr

Movie Theater-Size Candy Is Up for Grabs

If you’ve pined for the jumbo-sized candy bars you used to get at the movie theater but missed out on eating during the pandemic, you can probably find them at the Business Center. They have all the brands and, if you can handle it, the packages are sizable.

Costco Business Center products
Liane Starr

You Aren’t Likely to Impulse Buy

You know how you’re assaulted with everything from televisions to croissants to sunscreen when you first walk into Costco — and somehow at least a few of these items end up in your cart? Unless you’re apt to moon over 10 pounds of pork shoulder, you’re not likely to buy much that you weren’t likely to get on your trip anyway.

Costco Business Center appliances
Dawn F./Yelp

You Can Get Serious Appliances Here

Want an industrial oven? Maybe a walk-in fridge? How about a professional-grade meat slicer? Costco may not stock these appliances in their regular stores, but for restaurant owners, the selection at the Business Center isn’t bad. 

Costco Business Center party tables
Liane Starr

This Is the Place to Go for a Party

While you probably already go to Costco to get party supplies, if you can get to a Business Center before a really big shindig such as a wedding, bar mitzvah, or class reunion, consider it a stop. If you strike out at your local party supply rental, you can even pick up basic tables, chairs, and even speakers.

Costco Business Center
Nedie K./Yelp

Products Are Arranged Logically

It’s no problem getting in your daily 10,000 steps at a regular Costco just trying to find out if they still have the nut clusters you bought on a whim a week ago and now are either no longer in stock or hidden in a new location. But if you aren’t a fan of stomping around the whole store looking for an item, you’ll be happy to know that, with fewer categories to stock and less interest in filling end-caps with a strange assortment of impulse buys, Business Centers seem to realize you just want to get the stuff you want and get the heck out of there.

Costco Business Center checkout
Liane Starr / Cheapism

There Are No Annoying Salespeople

Walking the gauntlet to the exit at most Costco stores includes sidestepping the persistent solar/cabinet/lighting salespeople who just want to offer you a fabulous deal when all you want to do is lug your stuff to your car and get out. While it wasn’t a weekend, there wasn’t a salesperson to be seen. That said, there were more actual Costco employees throughout the store, and I suspect if I’d had a problem I could have asked them — an opportunity that almost never happens at most stores.

Costco Business Center checkout area
Liane Starr

Lines Are Fast

Sure, you’re in line behind a guy who might have more supplies than a prospector looking to cross the Klondike in 1899, but that’s okay — while he may have a ton of stuff, the truth is it’s only five items. I checked out in less than ten minutes, which never happens at a regular Costco no matter what day or time I go.

Related: Why Costco Is Such an Annoying Place to Shop

Costco Business Center not crowded
Russ C./Yelp

Service Is Friendly

With its focused product assortment, the Business Center was noticeably low on the irritating shoppers who jam up the aisles at most Costco stores, staring vacantly at mattresses or pawing at the towel sets, or having long discussions with new friends with their feet propped on outdoor furniture. I’m guessing that’s part of the reason the people who worked at the store seemed more chipper and less frazzled than other Costco employees. Heck, I was more chipper and less frazzled — and for that reason alone, I’ll be back.

Related: Costco Products You Can’t Return