At the back of Costco's stores, past the televisions, jewelry, jumbo-sized ketchup jugs and tubs of mixed nuts, is one of the retailer's most prized items: The rotisserie chicken that costs just $4.99.
Cheap Kirkland Signature rotisserie chickens aren't only a quick way for families to get dinner on the table. For Costco, the chickens are a lure, pulling customers into stores and getting them to browse the aisles, adding sometimes hundreds of dollars worth of items to their shopping carts before they pick up that bird.
The chickens have become almost a cult item. 91 million were sold last year, double the number from a decade earlier. They have their own Facebook page with nearly 13,000 followers.
So Costco is willing to go to extreme lengths to keep its chickens at $4.99. For the past few years, it's been recruiting farmers for this moment: The official opening of a sprawling, $450 million poultry complex of its very own in Nebraska.