If you were wondering what the construction in Bellingham’s Costco parking lot is for, it’s a car wash and is estimated to open this September.
Kathy Bell, senior planner for the City of Bellingham, provided land use review and building permit applications for the Costco Car Wash. The project first came to her attention when Costco initiated a conversation about it in April 2020.
There are 574 Costcos in the U.S., of which 11 have car washes, one of them being in Seattle.
“Prior to building permit application approval, the applicant was required to demonstrate compliance with all relevant codes such as utilities, stormwater, building and land use,” Bell said.
Local municipalities don’t have the discretion to approve or deny proposals, but in this situation, the city determined the Costco Car Wash met development standards, so it was approved.
The official date of when the Costco Car Wash will open at the Bellingham location is still up in the air, and Costco Corporate was unable to be reached for comment.
In addition to no response from Costco Corporate, a representative for the Bellingham Costco Car Wash Julie Anderson said, “I can’t comment” when asked various questions about the car wash.
According to a document from Jackson Dean Construction, the construction was set to begin on May 16, 2022, and be completed on September 18, 2022.
According to Hart Hodges, director of Western Washington University’s College of Economics, Bellingham's Costco is hugely busy, with Costco's gasoline, milk and dairy sales being top five in the nation. This is partly due to the fact that Canadians come across the border to get goods for cheaper prices than they could in Canada.
“The Costco here serves all of Whatcom County, so you got 200,000 [people], but you’ve got a few times that counting Canadians,” Hodges said. “There are Costcos in Canada, but they're subjected to pricing regulations.”
With so much Canadian business, it makes sense to build a carwash at the Bellingham location, Hodges said.
“They want amenities that will attract new customers, so there may be a little bit of growth,” Hodges said. “If I think to myself, the cheapest gas in town is Costco, and if I say, ‘Gosh, I might as well go to Costco for an hour, fill up and get a car wash,’ it's just one more amenity making me think, 'Costco.”'
For Griffin Boyle, who has been a Costco member for the last two years, convenience is the most important factor for him when choosing which car wash to go to, though he said he won’t choose Costco’s car wash.
“I probably wouldn’t take my car to the Costco Car Wash,” Boyle said. “It's farther away from me than the one I usually go to, and convenience is a bigger deal for me.”
According to topcarwash.com, Costco's car wash service will have only one package for $7.99, which offers protectant, tire shine, wax and underbody flush. Operating times will be 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Joshua Solorzano (He/Him) is a student reporter on The Front, reporting on the City News beat. He is majoring in Visual Journalism and minoring in Spanish. Habla español con fluidez.
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