Costco Wholesale Corp was incorporated in Washington and started operations in 1983. The Company and its subsidiaries operates membership warehouses and offers its members low prices on a limited selection of nationally branded and select private-label products in merchandise categories. The Company's online business operates websites in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Mexico. The category of items sold includes Food including dry and institutionally packaged foods, Sundries including snack foods, candy, tobacco, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning and institutional supplies, Hardlines including appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, garden and patio, and office supplies, Fresh Food including meat, produce, deli, and bakery, Softlines including apparel, small appliances, and home furnishings, and Ancillary and Other including gas stations, pharmacy, food court, and optical. Ancillary businesses within or next to its warehouses provide expanded products and services and encourage members to shop more frequently. The ancillary businesses in operation include Food Courts, Photo Processing Centers, Optical Dispensing Centers, Pharmacies, Hearing-Aid Centers, Gas Stations and warehouses. Its trademarks include Costco Wholesale and its private label brand, Kirkland Signature. Marketing activities generally include community outreach programs to local businesses in new and existing markets and direct mail to prospective new members. Ongoing promotional programs relate to coupon mailers. The Company competes with warehouse club operations across the U.S. and Mexico Wal-Mart's Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club. In addition, it competes with global, national and regional wholesalers and retailers, including supermarkets, supercenters, department and specialty stores, gasoline stations, and internet retailers. Competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's and Amazon.com are among its general merchandise retail competitors. It also competes with operators selling a single category or narrow range of merchandise, such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Office Depot, PetSmart, Staples, Kroger, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, CVS, Walgreens, and Best Buy.
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