General thoughts on Grocery Outlet in San Leandro

As everyone who reads my blog knows, I’m a big fan of Grocery Outlet. For one, it’s just across the street from my house – which makes it very convenient to grab those items we are out of or have just forgotten. It’s also a good place to get cheap treats and I enjoy seeing what’s new on each trip. You have to be careful, though, they are not always good about keeping expired products off the shelves – so you do need to check expiration dates carefully. Also, their prices are not always the best – sometimes you can get better deals at the supermarket. But in general they are cheaper to much cheaper than regular stores.

What I really like about the San Leandro Grocery Outlet, however, is how dedicated the manager is to make the store pleasant and family friendly. They moved here to San Leandro from Seattle, and it’s really clear that it’s their baby. The store is always clean, there are always people around to help and the lines are MUCH shorter than at the supermarket. They strive to never have more than 3 people in line, and today I saw the manager open a new line when the others started getting over that. There is also always a dedicated person to bag your groceries, so you can get out of there quickly.

I also like that they seem to make a concerned effort to hiring people with disabilities and minorities. My only concern is that they are not unionized, but I don’t know anything about their labor practices. I’ll ask the manager at some point.

So I finally asked the manager about their labor practices. Workers are started at $8.50 an hour (50 cents over minimum wage in California) and they are not provided with any kind of benefits. The manager say they can’t afford it. GO managers have a base pay of $90K a year, which is not bad – but the manager at San Leandro’s GO works there 6 days a week most of the day, so clearly they work hard for what they make.
The question for me are just how high the profits are for the owners – GO is a privately held company so I wasn’t able to find out how well they do. Are wages so low because they have a small margin on their products, or because the owners are reeking in the profits? I’d like to know.

7 Comments

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7 Responses to General thoughts on Grocery Outlet in San Leandro

  1. Jake

    To answer your question, yes the owners reap the benefits and pay their employees low wages. The profit is shared 50/50 with corporate as it is a franchise company. Corporate encourages store owners to run the stores with as little as 7% labor costs which in return means high turnover and slave labor wages.

  2. Fran

    The owners are very nice people. My son is friends with their son. Grocery stores in general are very low margin businesses, especially ones without bakeries, delis, and prepared foods as far as mark-up goes. They do keep it very clean as compared to Hayward or Berkeley’s. I go in once a week for the deals. Also I like it because I often score non-national brands that I’m familiar with from my east coast days:). They are not replacing the traditional stores because they just don’t have the selection, but there is a place for them, especially in today’s economy, as it’s always nice to save a buck. I only have one mouth to feed so I feel fortunate in that regard. And Jake in a perfect world everybody would be shopping at Andronico’s, (union, selection, service, etc.) But this is far from a perfect world in case you haven’t noticed. BTW, I don’t know if you’ve seen the news that Andronico’s is in very bad shape financially, and I have my fingers crossed that they don’t go the way of PW Market!

    • jake

      In case you haven’t noticed I am absolutely aware that we don’t live in a perfect world, duh. May I ask if you’ve ever worked for a Grocery Outlet? Do you you know the systematic approach they operate in concerns with their employees. Yeah maybe family members are treated fairly but how about the employee that’s hired off the street that’s not family. You really should do your research Fran.

  3. David

    I guess slave labor has changed a bit in 150 years. Because I thought “slave” meant forced to work through threat of physical force through an accident of birth or the result of losing a war. Did you check for manacles? Any of them report being forced to work?

    As for a union, well, FoodMaxx is union if you want cheaper food in general than safeway (although Safeway can beat them on name brand cereals and are competitive usually on meat).

    • Jake

      Last I checked there’s a big difference between slave labor and being a slave in general. Slave labor definition number two follows: 2. hard work: hard or demanding work, in poor conditions, that is not well paid ( informal ). It was also a reference Mr. David. By the way “Did you check for manacles?”.

  4. tom abate

    Really low wages for help

  5. Allie

    As the wife of a former Grocery Outlet Manager & employee, and since this discussion originated (partly) in questioning labour practices, I would like to offer several points:
    1. The Grocery Outlet, in my opinion and from reading the entire G.O. handbook, was birthed with the very best intentions: read, supplying the consumer with a cost efficient product.
    2. Over time, this efficiency seems to have taken advantage of it’s store employees. I have seen my husband’s esteem, pay, and enthusiasm dwindle while (and kudos to him on this) never sacrificing the Company’s good name or consumer happiness.
    3. In reference to ‘Slave Labour’, I believe the terminology which might be referenced here is a moot point. There are several Grocery Outlets which display a 100% turn over, within three months, so that the company, itself, is not ‘stuck’ footing an unemployment bill. I would like to be subjective in this, but if the G.O. is turning over it’s employees every three months in order to keep each store at a minimum cost, but consistently acquiring (roughly) $252,000 a month, AND if the Store’s original intent was to aid in human survival, why are there so few benefits for employees and limited rewards for ‘hard workers’.
    Having been a restaurant severer for a great part of my life, I understand how the little guy or girl can get screwed, but I feel that the Grocery Outlet was once a business with a good agenda which, over time, sort of aborted the fair treatment of it’s employees along the way.

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