Costco Co-Founder Dies

Jeff Brotman's death “a complete shock” according to co-founder Jim Sinegal
August 2, 2017Allison Zisko

Brotman, JeffJeff Brotman
ISSAQUAH, Wash.—Jeff Brotman, co-founder and chairman of the board of Costco, died early yesterday morning. He was 74.

Brotman’s death was unexpected and its cause unknown, Michel Brotman, Jeff Brotman’s brother, told the Seattle Times. Costco co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal told the Times Brotman had attended a dinner for about 2,000 Costco warehouse managers gathered at the Washington State Convention Center on Monday evening, and Brotman’s death was “a complete shock for everyone.”

Costco, ranked fifth on HFN’s Top 50 Home Retailers list, with an estimated $5.6 billion in home furnishings sales in 2016, operates 736 stores worldwide. Brotman was an integral part of selecting sites for new ones, according to Sinegal.

The company’s first location was opened by entrepreneur Sol Price in 1976 under the Price Club name in a converted airplane hangar in San Diego. It originally only served small businesses, but later added selected non-business members because it gave the company more buying clout, according to a company history. In 1983, Sinegal, the executive vice-president of merchandising, distribution and marketing at Price Club, and Brotman opened the first Costco warehouse location, in Seattle. It grew to $3 billion in sales in less than six years. When Costco and Price Club merged in 1993, the combined company, operating under the name PriceCostco, had 206 locations generating $16 billion in annual sales. The company, known for keeping costs down while treating its workers well, reported net sales of $12.17 billion for June.

Allison ZiskoAllison Zisko | Managing Editor/Tabletop Editor
azisko@hfnmag.com

After 15 years of covering the tabletop industry, Allison Zisko is still as enthusiastic as ever about the dinnerware, glassware and flatware categories. An in-depth analysis of how the category works intrigues her just as much as the latest fashion trends. As managing editor, Allison oversees the daily e-newsletter and works behind the scenes to help produce the print issue each month. She also directs HFN’s housewares coverage and covers the cutlery category. An avid reader, Allison is eager to talk to anyone and everyone about the latest book they are reading.

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