I’m in Saudi Arabia and I Miss COSTCO

The longer I am here in the Kingdom the more I realize how much I miss Costco! First of all, I actually dislike shopping and therefore appreciated how not only did Costco allow me one-stop-shopping for any items I needed whether it be kitchen, food items, home furnishing, clothes, eyeglasses, etc., but the prices were very reasonable and the products of good quality. I encourage anyone not familiar with Costco to view their web site: http://www.costco.com/ and I think you’ll get a sense on why I miss this kind of store so much.


Neither does the Kingdom have Walmart, (http://www.walmart.com/) K-Mart (www.kmart.com) or Target (http://www.target.com/). In their places, you will instead find Euromarche, Carrefour and Geant.

Euromarche (http://www.euromarche.com/aboutus.html) is open 24 hours and I would categorize it as similar to Kmart but perhaps a little lower in quality. It is an excellent place to go to for household items (not furniture) at reasonable prices. However I would unlikely purchase any clothing or shoes there. The prices are reasonable but careful observation of the stitching and way the items are made I can see they would not last for very long without beginning to rip at the seams or lose bottons.

Geant (http://www.geantsaudi.com.sa/Misc/AboutUs.aspx) I would chose to compare with Walmart. Most individuals seem to go to Geant for food products more so than the other non-consumable offerings. I do believe the quality and selection is better than that of Euromarche.

Carrefour (http://www.carrefourksa.com/English/advertise.asp) is probably the closest in comparison with the western chain, Target. Carrefour is not only in the Kingdom but other countries in the Middle East too. The quality is good and the store usually offers a wide variety and selection.


But why do I miss Costco with these other choices available? I continue to believe that the quantity and quality Costco continues to offer the best. And frankly I am surprised that Costco has not penetrated the Saudi market. One way Costco maintains the lower prices for good quality is to sell items in bulk. Now think about it – the Saudi families are typically larger than the average Western family and routinely buy what westerners would view as bulk purchases. In fact, when I was in the States, my Saudi friends all adored and appreciated shopping at Costco and lamented that it was such a shame not to have something similar in the Kingdom. Talk about the ideal consumer base already in place!


As I am on my roll here with comparisons, I am confident that anyone from the States or spent time in the States is familiar with Home Depot (www.homedepot.com). I know it may sound unusual for a woman to say this but oh how I enjoyed spending time in Home Depot. I so enjoy putting a home together and adding those special touches to personalize a home. And, Home Depot was the place to go to buy the hardware items (and much more) associated with a home. The closest equivalent to Home Depot in the Kingdom is Saco (http://www.saco-ksa.com/saco_Home/stores/stores.html). It does “okay” but is nowhere near ot the selection of Home Depot and also in my view, expensive for what is offered. However if one needs anything electronic such as convertors, fiche, piping, kitchen items, bath items, etc., then Saco is where you need to go.


But in closing, if one of the above-cited American chains were to come to the Kingdom, I wish it would be Costco. Not only does one receive the largest choices and value for the money but the built-in consumer base is aleady here to make it an instantly viable market opportunity.


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