I’m proud to celebrate Trader Joe’s, one of my favorite stores (even though I am hours away from one where I live now). I love their products, the customer service has always been wonderful, and they really seem to try to be fair in their dealings with suppliers. Addicting Info reports today that Trader Joe’s has rejected Wal-mart‘s business model and pays their employees a living wage:
We’ve watched as places like Walmart, Papa John’s, Target, Applebee’s and other businesses continue to pay sub-par wages while claiming their only option for profit, given the economy and their being “forced” to provide employees with insurance, is to either cut employees’ hours and/or their wages. This miserly strategy is justified and implemented despite the fact that research shows that raising wages would actually “benefit workers, the industry and the overall economy.”
Yet in the midst of Scroogian thinking, a handful of smarter businesses have stepped to the forefront to reject this “austerity” model for a different philosophy right in line with research: pay a good living wage, offer benefits and maximize one of your most important “assets”: your valued workforce. Top on that list of smart retailers is Costco; Tulsa-based convenience chain, QuikTrip, and consumer favorite, Trader Joe’s.
All over the retail world, I see a welcome revolution– people who aren’t gonna take being nickel and dimed by multi million dollar big box stores anymore. Nor should anyone have to put up with that. Companies are slowly starting to see that treating employees right boosts their bottom line, and helps the economy because if you pay people more, they will have more to spend (duh?) The Atlantic adds:
The average American cashier makes $20,230 a year, a salary that in a single-earner household would leave a family of four living under the poverty line. But if he works the cash registers at QuikTrip, it’s an entirely different story. The convenience-store and gas-station chain offers entry-level employees an annual salary of around $40,000, plus benefits. Those high wages didn’t stop QuikTrip from prospering in a hostile economic climate. While other low-cost retailers spent the recession laying off staff and shuttering stores, QuikTrip expanded to its current 645 locations across 11 states.
Many employers believe that one of the best ways to raise their profit margin is to cut labor costs. But companies like QuikTrip, the grocery-store chain Trader Joe’s, and Costco Wholesale are proving that the decision to offer low wages is a choice, not an economic necessity. All three are low-cost retailers, a sector that is traditionally known for relying on part-time, low-paid employees. Yet these companies have all found that the act of valuing workers can pay off in the form of increased sales and productivity.
“Retailers start with this philosophy of seeing employees as a cost to be minimized,” says Zeynep Ton of MIT’s Sloan School of Management. That can lead businesses into a vicious cycle. Underinvestment in workers can result in operational problems in stores, which decrease sales. And low sales often lead companies to slash labor costs even further. Middle-income jobs have declined recently as a share of total employment, as many employers have turned full-time jobs into part-time positions with no benefits and unpredictable schedules.
As for me, I would rather give my money to places that treat people right. I don’t shop at Walmart anymore, nor do I go to Applebee’s, Papa John’s, or Target. I don’t order from their website, because I don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior. Business is just as much about ethics as it is about making a buck, and I hope this positive revolution continues. Treating people right is simply the right thing to do and we have been taught since we were little that if you treat people as you would like to be treated, if everyone did that, it would be a vastly better world. I believe that with all my heart.
You rock, Trader Joe’s!