Costco’s Lake Stevens store opened Friday after years of delays and protests. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Costco’s Lake Stevens store opened Friday after years of delays and protests. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The wait is over as Costco opens in Lake Stevens

The new store, in the works since 2018, opened Friday. Some came for the specials, others had a hankering for hot dogs.

LAKE STEVENS — Some things defy all known boundaries. They fly in the face of time constraints, social constructs, and sometimes, good reason.

Costco hot dogs, it seems, are one of those things.

The very first customer Friday at the new Costco in Lake Stevens had a clear mission for his visit, and that was a hot dog from the food court, said Michael Estrada, a stocker at the store.

No matter that it was 8 a.m., or that the gentleman had to jostle among 200 other people gathered in the blowing snow and sub-freezing weather waiting for the warehouse to open its doors. He had his priorities in line.

Friday’s opening culminated years of planning, uncertainty and controversy. The Issaquah-based wholesale giant first announced plans for the new location at 9210 24th St. SE in 2018 and got its first permits in 2019.

The project was delayed for years by several petitions and lawsuits from Livable Lake Stevens, a local group opposing the development’s potential environmental impacts and traffic disruptions. Tentative opening dates were pushed back several times as construction neared completion, most recently from Nov. 23 to the final date of Dec. 2.

But once the company surmounted its legal obstacles, construction got underway quickly, said store manager Chris Delong. The site went from nearly empty lot to massive warehouse, complete with 30 gas pumps outside, in a little under four months, he said. On the day of the grand opening, builders had wrapped up finishing touches only nine days before.

Those gas pumps got turned on Monday night, according to fans in the store’s dedicated Facebook group. Friday morning group members posted pictures of themselves waiting outside the hallowed doors as early as 6:30 a.m.

Estrada, who said he’d been hired at the location three weeks before the opening, said the morning hadn’t been as crazy as he expected. He said the days and hours before the ribbon-cutting ceremony had been quite the scramble, making sure every last detail was perfect for the highly anticipated event.

Jill Raub said she’d been holding off on grocery shopping since before Thanksgiving in anticipation of stocking up on the first day. Raub’s cart was piled to the top with frozen goods and Christmas gifts, and she said she was contemplating grabbing another cart for the overflow.

“I live in Lake Stevens and I’ve been excited for this store to open for what feels like forever now,” Raub said. “It’s so nice to have it so close, and we don’t have to drive to Everett anymore.”

Some customers beelined for opening-day specials like discounted e-bikes. Others eyeballed a 6-liter bottle of French Bordeaux costing a cool $1,800. Most stuck to the classics, nabbing bargains in the meat department and stocking up on toilet paper. And of course, the food court was hopping.

Despite the air of excitement, the store was surprisingly uncrowded in its first couple of hours. The warehouse will open at 10 a.m. going forward, but those dedicated enough to line up Friday morning got a couple of hours to peruse in relative peace.

Delong said he only expected traffic to increase steadily through the end of the day, and thought things would really get crazy in the afternoon and evening when people left work.

Ryan Jordan, a buyer visiting the location from Costco’s corporate office, said the company strives to make every trip to their stores “an experience, not just a shopping trip,” and he felt the first hours of Lake Stevens’ new store lived up to those expectations.

“It’s kind of our chance to give Lake Stevens a good first impression,” Jordan said. “We think we’ve gotten a pretty warm welcome so far.”

Riley Haun: 425-339-3192; riley.haun@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @RHaunID.

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