Costco Wholesale co-founder Jim Sinegal has been awarded the National Retail Federation’s Gold Medal Award, the organization said Tuesday.

The trade association said that under Sinegal’s long tenure as chief executive the Issaquah-based company grew into the biggest warehouse-club retailer in the U.S.

Sinegal stepped down as CEO in 2012 but remains in the board of directors.

The organization said that the Gold Medal is the “most coveted award in retail.”

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NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said Sinegal was “an obvious choice” for the award due to his “committment to the industry and Costco, and dedication into creating such a well-respected culture throughout the organization he helped build.”

It’s the second year in a row that the award comes to a Seattle-area company. Last year Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took it home in what many regarded as a controversial decision, as the online retailer has been a disruptive and sometimes unwelcome force among the brick-and-mortar companies that make up most of the National Retail Federation’s constituency.

By honoring Sinegal, the trade association returns to its off-line roots.

The organization also honored another Northwest company: athletic wear maker Nike, which was named retail innovator of the year.

The award will be presented Monday in a ceremony at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention in New York City.

Ángel González; 206-464-2250 or On Twitter: @gonzalezseattle