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Transcommercial Costco

We're always on the lookout for corporations which show signs of being "transcommercial enterprises." The latest one to pop up on our radar is Costco -- the big-box, wholesale warehouse club retailer. While Costco may not embody everything transcommercial, its employee policies are surprisingly progressive. In most ways, it's the Anti-Wal-Mart. I've heard good things about the company (one of my best friends' father & brother work there), and this article by Jim Hightower on AlterNet sums up the qualities succinctly:

"We pay much better than Wal-Mart," [Costco CEO] Sinegal says. "That's not altruism. It's good business."

Indeed, Costco's pay is much, much, much better -- a full-time Costco clerk or warehouse worker earns more than $41,000 a year, plus getting terrific health-care coverage. Wal-Mart workers get barely a third of that pay, plus a lousy health-care plan. Costco even has unions!

Yet, Costco's labor costs are only about half of Wal-Mart's. How's that possible? One reason is that Costco workers feel valued, which adds enormously to their productivity, and they don't leave -- employee turnover is a tiny fraction of Wal-Mart's rapidly revolving door.

Comments (2)

I read an article (I think it was in Fortune) about Costco's good treatment of its employees. One economist actually complained that it was like Costco put their employees and members above the stockholder. How dare they!

Terry Hatch:

I have been a Costco customer for five years. Their return policy is the best in the retail industry. They treat their employees well - I know most of the employees at my store by their first names. There prices are the lowest, and they only sell quality. What's not to love about this organization?


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