Is Costco A Franchise? (Full Guide + How To Become Involved)

With departments that stock groceries, appliances, equipment, clothing, pharmaceuticals, and more, Costco is beloved by customers around the world.

But with the popularity of this membership-only warehouse chain, you might be wondering about the way business is conducted. In particular, is Costco a franchise? Here is what I discovered!

Is Costco A Franchise?

Costco is not a franchise as the Costco Wholesale Corporation operates its own network of retail warehouses and does not offer licenses to its business model to any investors. Costco has resisted franchising since its opening in the mid-1970s and has no plans of starting franchises. 

For more information on Costco and how to become involved, read on! 

Why Is Costco Not Franchise? 

Because of the size of locations owned by corporate leaders, and the massive inventory and number of employees, Costco does not see franchising as a viable option.

Additionally, Costco does not offer its business licenses to any investors, who might not be qualified to run a warehouse even if they could afford the steep price that a Costco location would fetch.

Costco Wholesale Corporation also values the quality and smooth running of its warehouse locations.

Because of these reasons, Costco does not franchise any stores as they want full oversight of their business. 

How Can You Get Involved With Costco? 

Instead of becoming a franchisee with Costco, anyone interested in becoming involved with Costco can do so quite easily.

Interested parties can join the Costco Wholesale Corporation as an associate.

And if you work your way up to a General Manager position, you can experience other warehouses around the U.S. as General Managers are cycled around warehouses in their regions every 5 years or so.

Additionally, Costco employees enjoy a wide array of career benefits, including employee discounts, health insurance benefits, high wages, and more. 

Alternatively, you can purchase stocks in the company and become a shareholder with Costco Wholesale Corporation.

While you might not be one of the big names who have control over the corporate workings of Costco, you can still be part of the company’s sales growth, both in physical stores and in e-commerce sales, around the world. 

What Is Costco’s Company Structure? 

What Is Costco’s Company Structure? 

Instead of being a franchise, Costco is a wholesale corporation that operates an international chain of membership warehouses.

Additionally, the Costco Corporation also runs Costco Wholesale Industries, which produces private-label products and services for food packaging, jewelry distribution, meat processing, optical laboratories, and more.

These subsidiaries all have the common goal of providing members with the highest quality products at substantially lower prices. 

How Big Is The Costco Wholesale Corporation? 

Currently, Costco has a total of 809 warehouses in operation, servicing the 108.3 million cardholders who shop there. Costco warehouses’ areas of operation include: 

  • 559 warehouse locations in 45 U.S. States and Puerto Rico
  • 105 warehouse locations in 9 Canadian provinces
  • 29 warehouse locations in the United Kingdom
  • 39 warehouse locations in Mexico
  • 29 warehouse locations in Japan
  • 16 warehouse locations in Korea
  • 14 warehouse locations in Taiwan
  • 12 warehouse locations in Australia
  • 3 warehouse locations in Spain
  • 1 warehouse location in China
  • 1 warehouse location in France
  • 1 warehouse location in Iceland

To learn more about franchises, you can see our other posts on whether or not Walgreens, Dollar General, and Walmart are franchises.


No, Costco is not a franchise. Instead, Costco is a wholesale chain with an international reach, through hundreds of membership-only warehouse locations, that does not open itself up to investor relations.

Various subsidiary industries are also parented by the Costco Wholesale Corporation. You can still get involved with Costco by applying to be an associate or buying company stock. 

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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