Costco to open first Buffalo-area store in Amherst

Costco Wholesale will open its first local store in Amherst along the busy Niagara Falls Boulevard corridor, Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said Wednesday afternoon.

The international warehouse retail chain signed a lease with Benderson Development Co. on Wednesday to take over the former site of Tony Roma’s restaurant at 4200 Ridge Lea Road, across North Bailey Avenue from Benderson’s thriving The Boulevard shopping center, Kulpa said.

The site of the restaurant, which closed in 2006 about two years after its opening, is part of the former University at Buffalo annex property now owned by the development company.

Costco plans to construct a new store building on the property, Kulpa said, and likely will go through the approval process this year with construction beginning one year from now. The store could open as soon as late 2023, Kulpa figured.

“There’s a lot of excitement,” Kulpa said. “I’m certainly glad they’re coming to Amherst.”

Eric Recoon, Benderson’s vice president of development and leasing, said in an email that he could not yet confirm nor deny “rumors” of Costco’s arrival in Amherst. Property-management companies typically are strictly limited in what they can say publicly unless and until a retail tenant gives its approval.

The closest Costco is a 156,000-square-foot store in Rochester that opened in 2015. The chain has other locations in Ontario, Syracuse, downstate and the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas.

Costco has eyed the Buffalo area since at least 2013, The Buffalo News reported at the time. Costco purportedly looked at a range of sites in the suburbs, from Tonawanda and Amherst to Cheektowaga, but nothing came of it then.

The membership-only wholesale club competes with Sam’s Club and BJ’s, but is considered more upscale than those retailers and is lauded for its quality, selection, price and customer experience.

As The News put it nine years ago: “Costco has garnered a passionate following around the world for its upscale shopping experience, discount prices, high-quality goods, ever-changing inventory and pleasant customer service. It’s the kind of place shoppers can find everything from cold cuts to televisions to a Cartier diamond watch, at discount warehouse prices.”

Costco is headquartered near Seattle and as of this month had 829 locations and 115 million cardholders in 12 countries. Its 573 American locations are in 46 states and Puerto Rico and its average warehouse size is 146,000 square feet.

It has 288,000 full- and part-time employees worldwide, with $192 billion in annual revenue.

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