I Want To Work At Trader Joe’s

HUB senior editor, Peter F. Eder, takes a look at The Trader Joe’s Adventure: Turning a Unique Approach to Business into a Retail and Cultural Phenomenon, a new book by Len Lewis.

Len Lewis, a former editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, offers a treasure trove of carefully crafted and well-written insights and observations in his new book. Lewis, who suggests that
Trader Joe’s mantra is “Do unto others as others want to be done unto,” identifies a number of strategies that ensure both the retailer’s success and its uniqueness.
For example, “Hire, train, and retrain people who enjoy interacting with customers and are capable of suggestive selling.”
Contrary to employee attitudes in many prodconventional supermarkets, everyone at Trader Joe’s, from the captain (store manager) on down truly appears to enjoy what they do. “They get paid well, go to work in a Hawaiian shirt, eat good food and get to talk to people and be helpful.”
The attitude is a result of careful selection, constant training and compensation. The company pays employees an average of $21 per hour, compared with an average of $17.90 at union operations. Add to that health and retirement benefits and total compensation of first year personnel comes to more than $47,000. A first mate (assistant store manager) has a compensation package of $94,000 and the captain’s total compensation is more than $132,000.

With pay like that, I have to ask myself what I’m doing writing ad copy.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. In order to both celebrate and critique the industry, I started AdPulp in Chicago in 2004. In 2006, I launched and led an agency content department at BFG. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.