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.