12 things about Costco that may surprise you

  • Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

    Photo, file: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    At a time when many stores are reporting a "retail funk" and puzzling over why the economic recovery isn't translating into more sales, Costco (COST) seems to be doing just fine.

    The company reported strong June sales numbers last week. Customers spent more than analysts expected, and same-store sales were up 6 percent. The warehouse giant also is seeing new momentum with its net revenue and international sales.

    Costco has always been a retail anomaly. It's run differently and it sells differently, and it's proud of it. There are competitors on all sides, including Walmart (WMT), Amazon (AMZN) and grocery chains, but no one can mimic Costco's operations. From its $1.50 hot dog-and-soda combo to the popular in-house Kirkland label, Costco sets itself apart from the rest of the retail crowd.

    Despite its no-frills warehouse model, Costco is a complex and nuanced company that has been able to thrive in good times and bad. "All we're trying to do is sell stuff cheaper than anybody else, but there's a lot more work that goes into it," former CEO Jim Sinegal told CNBC.

    Read on for 12 things you may not know about Costco.

  • Kim Peterson

    Kim Peterson is a financial journalist covering business and the economy. She has written for several online and print publications, including MSN Money and The Seattle Times.