Favorite

Bring on Costco 

The Wal-Mart steamroller does not flatten all it encounters. Meet Costco Wholesale, the nation’s leading warehouse retailer. Yes, leading. It has a bigger market share than Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart warehouse arm. I wish Costco would come to Arkansas. Part of it is, admittedly, class bias. Costco caters to higher-income customers with specials on the likes of champagne and jewelry amid a warehouse store’s usual narrow selection of staple goods in a barebones setting. I also learned recently — and liked what I heard — about Costco’s aggressive efforts to expand retail liquor sales. Sam’s Club pulled out every lobbying stop to carve a creative exception to Arkansas’s liquor law so it could put a retail liquor outlet under the roof of a Sam’s Club in Fayetteville. No end-arounds for Costco. In Washington, its home state, it has sued to end the price fixing that’s allowed by an anti-competitive liquor sales system with fixed wholesale markups. But neither high-end goods nor cheap wine explains my real reason for inviting Costco to Wal-Mart’s home turf. I like the way they do business, as described recently in the New York Times. Costco is headed by Jim Sinegal, son of a steelworker. He took only $550,000, including a bonus, to head the nation’s fifth largest retailer last year. His pay wouldn’t have kept graspy Wal-Mart exec Tom Coughlin in sunflower seeds and dog food. Sinegal doesn’t believe, as many other CEOs do, in drawing pay that is 100 to 300 times the salary earned on the floor of his stores. He also believes in paying a living wage. Costco’s average pay is $17 an hour, which the Times said is 42 percent higher than Sam’s Club. Costco pays an astounding 92 percent of the cost of its employees’ health coverage, which includes dental coverage. Wal-Mart employees swell taxpayer-financed public health plans in Arkansas and elsewhere. Costco also covers part-time workers after six months on the job; at Wal-Mart you have to wait two years. Costco contributes to employees’ 401k retirement plans on a sliding scale, starting with 3 percent of salary in a worker’s second year and rising to 9 percent by the 25th. Wal-Mart is rabidly anti-union. Not Costco. The Teamsters Union, which represents more than 10 percent of Costco employees, says Costco gave it the best deal of any employer in the country, including a guarantee that half its workers will be full-time. Stock market analysts think Costco is too generous with employee pay and perks. Costco thinks higher wages are cost-effective. Employee turnover and theft are low. Most of all, its chief financial officer told me in a phone interview, “It’s the right thing to do.” Costco stores are also fun. They regularly promote “treasure hunts,” in which specially priced items such as Waterford crystal and maybe a $10,000 string of pearls are scattered among the paper towels and drums of fryer oil. Costco feels the heat from Wal-Mart and constantly shaves its margins. Yes, it pressures suppliers, too, a tactic with national manufacturing implications. Just the same, I mapped Costco locations in Kansas City, Des Moines and Minneapolis for my trip to Minnesota this week. Somewhere along the way, it’s my solemn duty to buy some French wine and imported cheese at a store staffed by well-insured union workers making $35,000 a year. Higher pay every day. There’s a slogan you can tie to.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Bishop's first sentence might constitute the holy grail of sentence diagramming. Bishop, if you pass…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • The first commandment directly contradicts the first amendment.

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Arkyguy, try Numbers 31:17-18.

      Bishop?

    • on July 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation