Costco Pilots New Solution for Food Stamps

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Costco Pilots New Solution for Food Stamps

Costco Wholesale Corp., Issaquah, Wash., will begin accepting food stamps in its two New York City locations as soon as it has completed the installation of the necessary technology for processing the payment cards, estimated for early summer 2009.

The two Costco locations, in Queens and Brooklyn, were selected as pilots for the test because of the high penetration of food stamp recipients in the surrounding areas. If the test proves successful in meeting requests by Costco members to use this form of payment, and if it does not result in an unexpected loss of efficiency for Costco's front-end operations, Costco will open its future planned New York City locations with food stamp acceptance.

"In the past, we have not been convinced that there was sufficient demand among our membership to justify the expense and possible inefficiencies associated with accepting food stamps,” said Costco CEO, Jim Sinegal. “However, we are mindful that many of our fellow citizens are facing unprecedented economic challenges at this time, and it seemed to us that it was worth reconsidering our position in that light. We are taking this step to see if we can be a part of the solution to the financial burden that many people are facing today."

Costco operates 555 warehouses, including 407 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 77 in Canada, 21 in the United Kingdom, six in Korea, five in Taiwan, eight in Japan and 31 in Mexico.