Jim Sinegal on the Origins of Costco

Jim Sinegal is the founder, chairman, and former longtime CEO of Costco (Nasdaq: COST  ) . Known for his integrity and fondness for Costco's $1.50 hot dogs, Sinegal grew Costco from a single warehouse to a now-$39 billion chain.

Last month, The Motley Fool's own founder and CEO, Tom Gardner, ventured to a Costco warehouse in Florida for a conversation with Sinegal on business, leadership, and company culture. In the clip below, Sinegal tells of Costco's origins -- which trace back to his mentor, Sol Price. (A transcript is provided below. Running time: 1:23.)

Tom Gardner: Hi, I'm Tom Gardner here in the Kendall neighborhood of Miami, Florida at Costco with the founder and former CEO of Costco, the great Jim Sinegal. Jim, thank you so much for being with us.

Jim Sinegal: Tom, it’s my pleasure. Thank you for coming down to Miami to meet with us down here.

Gardner: Very, very pleased to do so. Now we have a collection of member questions, which I'm just going to read right off the paper because I can’t memorize almost anything anymore in my life, but the first question comes from Sally, and it reads, "I remember the opening day in Seattle, walking into this huge warehouse of things and being so excited. Still, it had to be a huge leap of faith that people would buy bulk. Where did you get the idea for Costco?"

Sinegal: I had been in the retail business since I was 18 years old. I had worked for a gentleman by the name of Sol Price at FedMart, and later The Price Club.

What we had done was taken some ideas that we had seen in cash-and-carry in Europe, along with hyper markets and we kind of put something together that was a combination of the two. So we kind of borrowed some ideas from three or four different formats and put them all together, including one of our own distribution centers that we had at FedMart, so it was the culmination of ideas put together to form a Costco.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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