Costco Business Center to replace Fry’s in San Marcos

San Diego County’s second Costco Business Center will open in the former site of Fry’s Electronics in San Marcos sometime next year to provide area merchants with inventory and general shoppers with deals on items not stocked in the more-prominent Costco Wholesale stores.

“It’s really going to serve the business community, and it’s positioned in a place that’s really central for the thousands of businesses next to that location,” San Marcos Economic Development Director Tess Sangster said about the store at 150 Bent Ave. “You’ve got a lot of restaurants, breweries, industrial users. I think they’ll use it regularly.”

Fry’s Electronics announced it was going out of business in February. Finding a tenant for the 144,013-square-foot building could have been a challenge, and Sangster said it was fortunate for the city that Costco came forward with a plan to open a business center at the site.

The city approved a permit to renovate the building in September, and crews are now onsite building a new canopy, trellis and entryway, reconstructing the interior and making improvements to the parking lot as part of the $7.1 million project.

Scott Sims, assistant vice president of operations for Costco Business Centers, said the San Marcos store could open in late March or early April and will be the company’s 23rd Business Center.

Costco has more than 800 wholesale stores globally. The first Business Center opened in Lynwood in 1996, and the company opened its first in San Diego at 7803 Othello Ave. in September 2010.

The new Costco Business Center will be about four miles west of a Costco wholesale store at 725 Center Drive off Nordahl Road in San Marcos. Customers with memberships to Costco Wholesale will be able to shop at the new store.

There’s a reason members may want to shop at both, Sims said.

“About 78 percent of the items we carry are unique as opposed to a core Costco,” he said about the business centers. “What’s nice about that is, if you’re a core member, this is an additional benefit to your card.”

A Costco website lists benefits of shopping at a Costco Business Center, including its 7 a.m. opening hour, three hours earlier than Costco Wholesale stores.

Costco Business Centers carry tableware, napkins, serving utensils and tables that can be used for catered parties, the site notes, and they have a large selection of beverages.

The stores don’t carry clothing, books and sporting goods, but they do have frozen food and individual packages of chips, cookies and snack bars that can be bought in bulk for sack lunches or other uses.

Because many stores may buy some of their inventory at a Business Center, Sims said members can buy items at a savings by shopping from the same store as retailers.

Costco is leasing the San Marcos site from property owner Lost Continent Limited Partnership.