Why Are There No Costco Stores in Upstate NY?

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As a retail giant with a membership-based business model, Costco Wholesale Corporation is known for its wide range of products offered at competitive prices. However, despite its popularity and presence in many parts of the United States, Costco stores are noticeably absent in certain regions, including Upstate New York. This article will delve into the reasons behind this absence and explore the potential for Costco’s expansion in the area.


There are currently only two Costco stores in Upstate NY, located in Syracuse and Rochester. The absence of more stores in this region is due to several factors including regulatory challenges, environmental concerns, and Costco’s specific expansion strategy. However, the company’s ongoing plans in Guilderland and Amherst suggest that Costco is interested in expanding its presence in Upstate NY.

Costco’s Business Model and Expansion Strategy

Costco operates on a unique business model, charging an annual membership fee that grants customers access to low-cost products. The company sources products directly from manufacturers, eliminating middlemen, and consciously takes lesser profits out of sales to offer the lowest prices to consumers. Costco’s typical store carries only about 4,000 different items at any given time, about one-tenth of the variety available at the average supermarket.

When it comes to expansion, Costco considers several factors, including the target audience, population, income levels, competition, and accessibility. The company primarily focuses on suburban areas of major cities, where income levels are somewhat higher than the national average. However, the expansion strategy has evolved over time, with new store location profiles starting to look different from existing store profiles, indicating a shift in their approach.

The Situation in Upstate NY

Currently, there are only two Costco stores in Upstate NY, located in Syracuse and Rochester. Compared to other regions in the United States, like California which has 133 locations, the number of Costco stores in Upstate New York is relatively low.

There are several regulatory and economic challenges that might hinder Costco’s expansion in Upstate New York. Legal challenges, tax breaks and incentives, and environmental concerns are the main obstacles. For instance, the proposed Costco project in Guilderland has faced opposition from environmental groups who argue that the project will have a negative impact on the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

The Impact of Costco Store in Upstate NY

A Costco store in Upstate NY could have several impacts on the local economy. These impacts may include job creation, increased consumer spending, and potential competition for existing retailers. However, the potential impact of a Costco store in Upstate NY has not yet driven significant expansion in the area, possibly due to the legal challenges and opposition faced by the proposed Guilderland store.

The Future of Costco in Upstate NY

While there have been rumors about Costco’s expansion in Upstate NY, the company has yet to make a significant move. However, the proposed Costco stores in Guilderland and Amherst indicate that the company is interested in expanding its presence in the area. The Guilderland store has received approval from the town’s zoning board of appeals, and the Amherst store has received final approval from the town’s planning board. These developments suggest that Costco sees potential in Upstate NY and is willing to overcome the challenges to establish a presence in the area.

In conclusion, while there are currently no Costco stores in certain parts of Upstate NY, the company’s expansion plans suggest that this situation may change in the near future. Despite the challenges, Costco’s unique business model and commitment to offering low-cost products make it a strong contender in the retail market. The company’s potential expansion in Upstate NY could bring significant economic benefits to the area and offer consumers more options for their shopping needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the annual membership fee for Costco?

The annual membership fee for Costco starts at $60 for the basic membership, known as the Gold Star membership. The executive membership, which offers additional benefits, costs $120 per year.

What kind of products does Costco offer?

Costco offers a wide range of products, from groceries to electronics, furniture, clothing, and more. They also offer services such as pharmacy, optical, photo center, and travel deals.

Does Costco have plans to open more stores in other areas of New York?

The blog post does not provide specific information about Costco’s plans to open more stores in other areas of New York. However, with the approval of stores in Guilderland and Amherst, it suggests that the company is interested in expanding its presence in the state.

How does Costco’s prices compare to other retailers?

Due to its unique business model, Costco is able to offer lower prices than many other retailers. They source products directly from manufacturers and take lesser profits out of sales, aiming to provide the lowest prices to their members.

How can I find out if a Costco store is opening near me?

You can check for new Costco locations on the company’s website. Alternatively, news about Costco’s expansion is often covered by local news outlets and business journals.

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