Walmart feels that paying workers a living wage will inhibit its ability to remain competitive, but WinCo Foods is proving the retail giant wrong by paying its workers a decent wage, offering amazing health and dental coverage, paid days off, flexible spending account options, and most importantly, giving employees a stake in the company.
The employee-owned business pays 20 percent of each worker’s annual income into a pension fund, as well. More than 400 cashiers, produce clerks, and other hourly workers currently have pensions worth over $1 million EACH. Health insurance is offered to all employees working 24 or more hours per week.
This employees-first approach not only leads to a happy, dedicated staff but ensures that said staff will want to remain at WinCo. The average hourly worker stays with the company around eight years.
In addition to the top-notch treatment of employees, WinCo manages to undercut Walmart’s prices as well! The store keeps costs down by not accepting credit cards and asking customers to bag their own groceries.
How competitive is WinCo? A rival chain executive told Retailwire in August:
[box type=”shadow”]”When they first opened near our stores, we didn’t see a big, immediate hit like you do with supercenters. But six months, nine months go by and you look up and they have a 15 percent share of the market. They just keep chipping away. They are every bit as tough, maybe tougher, to compete with as Walmart.”[/box]
If Walmart is not frightened of Winco, it should be! Retail industry analyst Burt Flickinger III says that WinCo may be “the best retailer in the Western U.S.” In an interview with the Idaho Statesman he referred to the sleeping retail giant as “Walmart’s worst nightmare.”
The chain’s 93 locations have been largely concentrated in California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Washington, but it has begun a major expansion effort. Its first two stores opened in Northern Texas this year.
With its efficient model, generous benefits, and low prices, we expect to see WinCo become increasingly problematic for Walmart and that’s GREAT news for American workers and the progressive movement.