On Wegmans

In an article discussing the book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell, the author points out the better example made by Wegmans, a chain of supermarket which began in my home town, Rochester:

“Still, she does cite one example of an organization that at least tries to get it right: Wegmans, a chain of supermarkets with stores located mostly in the suburbs of New York state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland, offers its employees job-training programs, health insurance and retirement benefits. The company operates on the supposition that if it treats its employees respectfully, they’ll be better prepared (and more willing) to serve the needs of customers. The approach seems to work: Wegmans profits financially by fostering and retaining customer loyalty, and its employee turnover rate is low — roughly 6 percent, measured against an industry-wide rate of more than 30 percent. The company also buys a large percentage of its produce from small, local farmers, and has been doing so for 20 years.

“If “Cheap” is a harrowing document of the pursuit of profit at the expense of our basic humanity, the example set by Wegmans — Shell saves it for the end of the book — sounds almost too good to be true, the kind of crazy business idea that, according to the logic of outfits like Wal-Mart, shouldn’t work. In reality, it’s one of the foundations of good business: Treat your employees well, and they’ll serve you well in return. The cost may be higher, but the price is right.”

The article is by Stephanie Zacharek and can be found here.

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