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The Trader Joe's Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail
Companies that invest in higher salaries for low-level employees find success in a competitive market
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.
Trader Joe's streamlines operations by offering a limited number of products and very few sales promotions. Costco stacks products on pallets, as warehouses would. And the QuikTrip model requires investors to have the fortitude to accept possible short-termed drops in profit.