Retail analysts say that the worldâ€™s biggest retailer has reason to fear a small grocery chain thatâ€™s based in Idaho and boasts a business model that allows it to undercut Walmart on prices.
So about that eye-catching Walmart quote. Those are the words of Burt Flickinger III, a widely respected supermarket retailing industry expert who works for the Strategic Resource Group. Flickinger was quoted in a recent Idaho Statesman story about WinCo, a chain of roughly 100 supermarkets in the western U.S., based in Boise.
â€œWinCo arguably may be the best retailer in the Western U.S.,â€ Flickinger says while touring a WinCo store. â€œWinCo is really unstoppable at this point,â€ he goes on. â€œTheyâ€™re Walmartâ€™s worst nightmare.â€
Flickinger isnâ€™t the only industry insider discussing WinCo and Walmart in the same breath. â€œWhile many supermarkets strive to keep within a few percentage points of Walmart Storesâ€™ prices, WinCo Foods often undersells the massive discount chain,â€ the industry publication Supermarket News explained last spring.
This is where it gets interesting.
While all of these factors help WinCo compete with Walmart on price, what really might scare the worldâ€™s largest retailer is how WinCo treats its employees. In sharp contrast to Walmart, which regularly comes under fire for practices like understaffing stores to keep costs down and hiring tons of temporary workers as a means to avoid paying full-time worker benefits, WinCo has a reputation for doing right by employees. It provides health benefits to all staffers who work at least 24 hours per week. The company also has a pension, with employees getting an amount equal to 20% of their annual salary put in a plan thatâ€™s paid for by WinCo; a company spokesperson told the Idaho Statesman that more than 400 nonexecutive workers (cashiers, produce clerks, and such) currently have pensions worth over $1 million apiece.