Can you even imagine a world without the magic of Costco? The bulk retailer has been around for almost 40 years, and in that time it has won many devoted shoppers. Surprisingly, though, the store hasn’t changed all that much since its early beginnings.

Photo Credit: Costco

Before Costco, there was Price Club, a big box store that opened in 1976 in San Diego, California. It sold bulk items to small businesses at the time.

In 1983, two former Price Club employees opened Costco Wholesale. They used the same basic business model as Price Club, except that Costco Wholesale would offer items to individual consumers and businesses, instead of just small businesses.

Costco Wholesale’s first store opened in Seattle. It rapidly grew in success, and ten years later, it merged with Price Club to form PriceCostco. That later become Costco Companies, then Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Photo Credit: Costco

To most people, though, it’s just Costco, or perhaps “the best place on Earth.”

At the original Costco Wholesale store in Seattle, the annual membership fee was just $25. With inflation taken into account, that’s about the same as the current annual fee.

Photo Credit: Costco

Photo of Costco’s early days show that not much has changed in stores, either. The products may shift, but the basic idea is the same: Happy customers with enormous shopping carts full of WAY too much stuff.

Hey, if it works, it works!