Large crowds are expected when Costco opens its store in Iceland on Tuesday, next week. So large, in fact, that rescue workers have been asked to be present to support staff members in crowd control, if necessary, Morgunblaðið reports. The company has hired more than 200 staff and is receiving ten cargo containers’ worth of products daily.
The 14,000 m2 (150,000 sq ft) store at Kauptún in Garðabær, near Reykjavík, will differ from the US wholesaler chain’s stores both in Europe and North America. It will be the only Costco store in Europe to prepare sushi on site and sell medication in an on-site pharmacy. Alcohol will also be sold at the store in wholesale. It will, however, only be available to customers with business membership cards who have a license to sell alcohol in Iceland, such as restaurants and bars. Among its other offerings, Costco will sell fuel at lower than average prices.
Brett Vigelskas, general manager of Costco Iceland, told Morgunblaðið that the store will be somewhat larger than traditional Costco stores and more American in appearance and product offerings than is typical of the chain’s European stores. “We understand that Icelanders like American products pretty well, and we want to cater to that,” he stated. “I understand that many Icelanders travel to the States, and many of them know Costco from there.”
According to Vigelskas, the arrival of Costco to Iceland has been five years in the making, and the preparations have been closely followed by the media. Costco buys various products from Icelandic suppliers and has caused much speculation about its impact on local businesses, even leading to the introduction of a new word, “Costcoáhrifin” (the Costco-effect), into the Icelandic vocabulary. Vigelskas said he had heard of the word. He added, “There is bound to be an effect when such a large store is opened. But exactly what the effect will be or how impactful is hard to say.”