Co-founded Costco chain

JEFF BROT­MAN

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARIES - as­so­ci­ated press news.obits@la­times.com A Times staff writer con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Jeff Brot­man, who co­founded re­tail gi­ant Costco and was the chair­man of its board of di­rec­tors, has died at his home out­side Seattle. He was 74.

Costco Whole­sale Corp. said Brot­man died early Tues­day. The cause was not im­me­di­ately known.

Brot­man had at­tended a din­ner in Seattle for about 2,000 Costco man­agers from around the world the evening be­fore his death, the Seattle Times re­ported.

“The thoughts of Costco’s board, man­age­ment and em­ploy­ees are with Jeff ’s wife and fam­ily,” the com­pany said.

Brot­man opened Costco’s first ware­house with Jim Sine­gal in 1983 in Seattle.

Months ear­lier, Brot­man had met ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Fred Paulsell on a flight to Seattle that was struck by light­ning and made an emer­gency land­ing in San Francisco.

Brot­man talked to Paulsell about his idea of open­ing a chain of low-cost ware­house clubs, and Paulsell ended up pro­vid­ing crit­i­cal fi­nanc­ing and ad­vice for the start-up.

Based in Is­saquah, Wash., the com­pany now op­er­ates 736 ware­houses around the world, in­clud­ing 511 in the United States and Puerto Rico. Costco has gen­er­ally been ranked as the world’s sec­ond-largest re­tailer, be­hind Wal-Mart. Ama­zon, though, has now sur­passed both.

Brot­man was a ma­jor sup­porter of Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates. In 2012, he hosted a fundrais­ing lun­cheon for Pres­i­dent Obama at his home in Me­d­ina, Wash.

Along with Star­bucks Chair­man Howard Schultz, Brot­man also hosted a $5,000-a-plate fundrais­ing event in 2000 for then-vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Lieber­man. He en­dorsed Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2016.

He was re­gent at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton in Seattle, where he stud­ied po­lit­i­cal science and earned an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in 1964.

He later earned a law de­gree from the univer­sity in 1967. While he was a stu­dent there, he worked for his fam­ily’s busi­ness, a men’s cloth­ing chain called Bernie’s.

He was mar­ried to for­mer Nord­strom ex­ec­u­tive Su­san Brot­man.

Ralph Rad­ford As­so­ci­ated Press

HEAD OF A RE­TAIL GI­ANT While on a flight to Seattle, Jeff Brot­man chat­ted with a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist about his idea for a low-cost ware­house club. The first Costco opened in 1983.

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