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Melanie Wong | Oct 31, 202106:33 PM    

My years in Los Angeles as a grad student were filled with trips to TJ's in Culver City and occasionally to Pasadena for bargains in French cheeses, imported and domestic wines at 20-30% discounts, and close-out food stuffs of many kinds. This was before TJ's changed to its current model of mostly house-branded goods and more stable product inventory. So it's easy to understand why I slip into Grocery Outlet's bargain-hunting mode so readily. I wouldn't know nearly as much as I do about the worlds of wine and cheese but for this early immersion during my salad days. My B-school classmates and I marveled at the creative and information-packed marketing communications and deep understanding of the tastes, wants and needs of its target customer, the well-traveled, college-educated middle class consumer demographic.

In this pandemic year of labor unrest, The New Yorker has highlighted founder Joe Coulombe's respect for his workers in its commentary on “Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys", https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... . " 'This is the most important single business decision I ever made: to pay people well,' he writes. He reasoned that employee turnover was the biggest cost to his business, and by paying his workers high wages and offering them excellent benefits he would ultimately reduce his costs."

It closes with, "He left the experiences with a piece of incontrovertible wisdom, one that is not self-aggrandizing or overly pious but stark in its simplicity and directness: 'A deeply troubled company is always the fault of the CEO, the board of directors, and the controlling stockholders who appoint these worthies,' he writes. 'It is never the fault of the frontline troops.' "

Trader Joe Wrote a Memoir

The book is a sort of “Kitchen Confidential” for the grocery business, but without the drugs or rage.

www.newyorker.com
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