Hundreds of people have queued, some of them overnight, to be among the first through the doors at New Zealand's first Costco.
Riverton resident Marina Seager said she wrote a handwritten letter with glitter to Costco in 2018 to be the first New Zealand member.
She was invited to the VIP opening night last night.
Speaking to the Herald from inside the store this morning, Seager said she was "absolutely stoked" and had a "full trolley" already.
"I live in a 30 bedroom house, so I need to buy in bulk and Costco gives you good deals and is also cheap."
Seager and her family purchased an old nurses home in Riverton where they foster children and help families in need and others in need of respite care.
"I am actually distressed I can't put more things in my trolley," Seager said.
"I flew here last night so I might have to get someone to pick me up with all the stuff."
The Washington State-headquartered retailer's west Auckland megastore will be globally unique, as well as an Australasia outlier.
Ahead of today's 8am opening for the chain, which sells US$192 billion of goods annually, the retailer revealed two things that make it unusual.
First, its signs are the only ones in a Costco internationally to be in te reo Māori as well as English.
Patrick Noone, the Australasian boss, said no other store had the distinctive red and white signs like those at 2 Gunton Dr, Westgate. The business had consulted widely before having the signs written, made and erected, he said.
"We wanted to do this as integrating into the culture of New Zealand. We see a lot of others using Māori words. It makes sense because it makes us part of the New Zealand retail landscape. We've also learned how to say some of the words," Noone said.
Using the language was an obvious move for the retailer, he said.
So pharmacy is te kēmehi, the meat department is labelled ngā miti, the bakery is hua parāoa, optical is mā ngā whatu and audiology is mā ngā taringa.
"We aim to be a good corporate citizen," said Noone of the new store which follows examples set by supermarket chains Foodstuffs and Countdown to label areas in both languages.
But Costco management had a joke played on them by locals who claimed the signs here were mixed up and in the wrong section "and the meat department and pharmacy were mixed up. That was a practical joke. The signs are in the right spot. They were just having a lend of us," Noone said.
The second factor which makes the store unique among 14 Australasian outlets is having a pharmacy. None of the 13 Australian stores have pharmacies due to laws across the Tasman, but Noone said many Costcos in other countries had in-store pharmacies.
It was important to create this to give New Zealanders the best value for money from that sector, he said, and two pharmacists have been employed among around 330 staff.
"It's easier here to operate a pharmacy. We have pharmacies in North America, Sweden, Canada and other countries but not Australia," Noone, a Canadian based in Sydney, said.
Costco Wholesale, founded in 1983, has four New South Wales stores, four in Victoria, one in Perth, two in Queensland, one in Adelaide and one in Canberra.
It has stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Australia, Spain, France, Iceland, China and via a majority-owned subsidiary in Taiwan.
The Auckland warehouse is a $100 million-plus membership store, costing $60/person or $55/business annually.
On Friday, the Herald reported how a 3.02 carat pear-shaped clarity solitaire diamond platinum ring sits on one side of the new Costco Warehouse at Westgate. Its price is $149,999.99.
Across the other side of the 1.4ha store, Australian-made Kirkland Signature 3-ply 48-roll toilet tissue sells across the Tasman for A$34.99
An Omega Seamaster stainless steel men's watch is $27,999.99.
A pair of Kirkland Signature digital rechargeable hearing aids are $1999.99, a pair of Phonak rechargeable aids are $3999.99, while Philips' rechargeables are $2999.99/pair. Audiology tests will be free.
A Versace men's watch is $1249, while a ladies' Longines is $6449.99. Fossil, Ostrich and Skagen are other brands being sold at the warehouse.
The 10ft Towering Animated Reaper is ready for Halloween, intoning "save the last dance for me", retails across the Tasman for A$319.99.
Cartier glasses' frames with 18ct gold trims are $1399 with free tests from an optician available.
Costco's last annual report cited net sales for the 52-week fiscal year ending August 2021 totalling US$192 billion, up 18 per cent. Net income was US$5b, up 25 per cent. Revenue from membership fees rose 9 per cent to US$3.9b.
The chain had stores in 828 locations at the end of last year of which 572 are in the US, 105 in Canada, only two in China but 13 in Australia. It employs 288,000 people.
It buys most of its merchandise directly from manufacturers and its strategy is to provide members with a broad range of quality goods at prices consistently lower than elsewhere.