To those of us who live in Seattle, Kirkland is a charming waterfront suburb. I most associate it with a quirky tiki bar that’s now long gone and a friendly kitchen store that repaired my beloved stand mixer.
But to devoted Costco shoppers, the word “Kirkland” means the store’s exclusive private brand, Kirkland Signature.
Many stores have a house brand, but few, it seems, are as ubiquitous as Costco’s. Stroll through one of the stores, and you’ll see the Kirkland Signature brand’s black, red and white logo on everything from paper towels to vodka.
But what do you know about Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand? Here’s a cartful of facts that may surprise you.
1. It’s been around since 1995
The very first Costco store opened in Seattle in 1983, but Kirkland Signature was created in 1995.
According to the company, its intentions were to create an item of the same or better quality as the leading brand at a lower price. So you’ll see a huge mountain of Charmin bath tissue next to a similar mountain of Kirkland Signature’s version.
2. The brand almost had a different name
Kirkland Signature was almost “Seattle Signature.” According to The Kirkland Reporter, the Costco team wanted to use “Seattle Signature” for its private label products, but were unable to clear the name of the bigger city for use.
So it opted for “Kirkland Signature,” in honor of the suburb where its flagship warehouse at the time was located.
3. It’s enormous
In 2021, it accounted for $59 billion in total sales — up from $35 billion just four years earlier. Some of the more surprising items include dress shirts, water-filtration pitchers and even Chilean sea bass.
4. It goes on sale
Every month or so, Costco offers discounts that it calls “warehouse savings” on certain items, as we detail in “11 Ways to Save Even More Money at Costco.” These items always include some Kirkland Signature products.
5. You shouldn’t buy these items on Amazon
Costco doesn’t sell its private-label products on Amazon, so when you buy Kirkland Signature products there, you are buying from a third-party reseller.
As we note in “Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon,” this means Costco is not able to stand behind this merchandise, which could be counterfeit or expired. Also, a 2019 Quartz analysis also found that Kirkland products tend to be more expensive on Amazon.
6. Many products are certified
Just because the products carry the Kirkland Signature label doesn’t mean they’re of poorer quality than the big brand names. For example, Kirkland Signature gas is certified to meet Top Tier performance standards.
And multiple Kirkland Signature paper goods are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or a similar organization.
7. Some products are made by big brands
Before Costco develops its own version of a product, the company usually gives a major brand-name supplier the chance to make the Kirkland version, too.
As we detail in “9 Name Brands Behind Costco’s Generic Products,” Kirkland Signature alkaline batteries are actually made by Duracell, Huggies maker Kimberly-Clark produces Costco’s diapers, and several Kirkland Signature coffee products are custom-roasted by Starbucks.
8. These products are the most popular
Need a nudge as to which Kirkland Signature product to buy? According to Costco, the most popular Kirkland Signature products are bath tissue, dish detergent, facial tissue, Free & Clear laundry detergent, lamb and rice formula dog food, men’s non-iron dress shirts, paper towels, drinking water and vitamins.