Did you know that Trader Joe's is owned by ALDI?
I was not surprised by all the comments generated by Mike Saunders' post on the new Trader Joe's that opened in his home town. Those who are familiar with Trader Joe's agreed wholeheartedly with him and those who are not familiar with it were left wishing they had one too.
I have loved Trader Joe's since my daughter introduced me to it when she was living in Boston. Now, I manage to go to the closest one to me (which is 20 minutes away) as often as I can.
What I find fascinating is the history of Trader Joe's which began in California by Joe Coulombe and was bought out in 1979 by Albrecht Discount (ALDI), a grocery chain that started in Germany in 1948. Trader Joe's has the vibe of a Whole Foods while Aldi has the basic no-frills warehouse feel. Despite feeling worlds apart, both offer great prices (although fewer products than a supermarket). I shop regularly at ALDI simply because I need to buy fruits and vegetables more frequently, but I always plan a trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on what they have to offer.
I shop at both stores for different reasons, but Trader Joe's is definitely a more fun experience. The people who work there are very helpful and cheerful. I don't know what ALDI's policies are but Trader Joe's definitely takes a positive approach toward employees, so maybe they want to work there. Check out this quote from the above-mentioned article:
You can't buy engagement from employees, but the pay at Trader Joe's helps. Store managers, "captains" in Trader Joe's parlance -- the nautical titles are a holdover from Coulombe (newly promoted captains are commanders; assistant store managers are first mates) -- can make in the low six figures, and full-time crew members can start in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. But on top of the pay, Trader Joe's annually contributes 15.4% of employees' gross income to tax-deferred retirement accounts.
Kind of an amazing story, isn't it?
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