Jeffrey Brotman

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Jeffrey Brotman
Jeffrey Hart Brotman

(1942-09-27)September 27, 1942
DiedAugust 1, 2017(2017-08-01) (aged 74)
Medina, Washington, U.S.
Alma materB.A., J.D. University of Washington
Corporate executive
Known forCo-founder and chairman of Costco
Susan Thrailkill (m. 1976)

Jeffrey Hart Brotman (September 27, 1942 – August 1, 2017) was an American attorney. He was the co-founder and chairman of Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Early life and education[edit]

Brotman was born to a Jewish family in Tacoma, Washington, the son of Pearl and Bernie Brotman.[1][2][3] His grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Romania to Saskatchewan; his parents immigrated to the US and settled in Tacoma.[1][3] His father was an owner of Seattle Knitting Mills. Along with his uncles, he owned a chain of 18 retail stores in Washington and Oregon named Bernie's.[2][4]

In 1965, the family moved to Seattle.[2] Brotman graduated from the University of Washington in 1964 with a degree in political science and in 1967 with a J.D.[2] He was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at the University of Washington.[5] After school, he and his brother, Michael, founded a women's jeans store named Bottoms; and in the 1980s, they founded the Jeffrey Michael chain of men's clothing stores, which they operated into the 1990s.[2]


In 1982, Brotman co-founded Costco Wholesale Corporation with Jim Sinegal,[6] a protégé of Sol Price, the founder of PriceSmart.[1] He served as chairman from the company's inception until his death, except during a stretch from 1993 to 1994 when he was vice chairman.[7][8] In 2017, Costco operated 736 warehouse stores.[3]

Brotman was also an early investor in Howard Schultz's Starbucks coffee.[3]


Brotman served on the boards of several public companies and[9] according to Businessweek magazine, was "connected to 13 board members".[10][11] He sat on the board of directors of the Million-Dollar Roundtable at the United Way of King County.[12] He also served on the boards of Seafirst Bank, Starbucks, and was a trustee at the Seattle Art Museum.[13]

Personal life and death[edit]

Brotman was married to Susan Thrailkill, a Montana native and former Nordstrom executive; they had two children, Justin Brotman and Amanda Brotman-Schetritt.[1][3][14][15] Brotman died August 1, 2017 in Medina, Washington, at the age of 74.[16][7] He died in his sleep, possibly due to heart failure.[17] He was a member of Temple Beth El in Tacoma.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Roberts, Sam (August 2, 2017). "Jeff Brotman, Founder of Retail Juggernaut Costco, Dies at 74". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cleveland Jewish Times: "Jeff Brotman, Jewish Costco founder, dead at 74" August 4, 2017
  3. ^ Seattle Times: "Bernard Brotman Was Innovator In Retail Business" by Carole Beers August 25, 1996
  4. ^ "Notable Alumni". Zeta Beta Tau. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Costco About accessed March 1, 2012
  6. ^ a b Turner, Nick; Soper, Spencer (August 1, 2017). "Jeffrey Brotman, Who Co-Founded Costco in 1980s, Dies at 74". Bloomberg News.
  7. ^ McGregor, Jena (7 September 2011). "On Leadership: Costco chief executive Jim Sinegal". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  8. ^ Brotman Bio Forbes accessed March 1, 2012
  9. ^ Business week on Brotman Businessweek, accessed March 1, 2012
  10. ^ Jeffrey Brotman Executive Profile Businessweek, retrieved March 4, 2012
  11. ^ Jeffrey H. Brotman Market Watch, retrieved March 4, 2012
  12. ^ "Jeffrey H. Brotman". NNDB. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  13. ^ Racked: "Amanda Pearl's Monsoon Wedding: Love at First Site Via" by Benjamin Liong Setiawan June 14, 2011
  14. ^ Seattle Times: "Amanda Brotman inherits passion for retail" By Amy Martinez and Melissa Allison April 25, 2008
  15. ^ Horowitz, Julia (August 1, 2017). "Costco's co-founder and chairman dies". CNN.
  16. ^ Seatlle Times: "Death of Costco co-founder Jeff Brotman, 74, 'a complete shock'" By Janet I. Tu August 1, 2017