Walmart’s Worst Nightmare? A Chain That Competes on Price, Treats Employees Well

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The chain’s name sounds made up, but one retail and grocery expert says WinCo is “unstoppable” and “Walmart’s worst nightmare.”

“WinCo arguably may be the best retailer in the Western U.S.,” Strategic Resource Group’s Burt Flickinger III told The Idaho Statesman.

The grocery chain started out as Waremart, which sounds even more made up, but it doesn’t appear that the company is trying to copy Walmart in any way.

It buys many of its products directly from farms and factories and sends its own trucks to pick them up, which means fewer options but better prices that compete with and often beat Walmart’s, Time says. It provides health benefits to part-timers, and has a pension plan in which more than 400 nonexecutive workers have more than $1 million each. The average hourly worker stays there for eight years, the Statesman says. The chain has few frills: Customers bag their own groceries and can’t pay with a credit card.

In some ways the WinCo approach sounds like that of another “co” — Costco. But WinCo is much smaller for now, with about 15,000 employees and close to 100 stores, the Statesman says. Costco has more than 100,000 U.S. employees and more than 600 stores, its website says. WinCo also doesn’t charge a membership fee.

It has stores in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Arizona and California, the Statesman says. The company does have plans to expand: Two locations will open in north Texas next year. Flickinger says he sees WinCo “doubling in size every five to seven years going forward.”

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  • Guest

    You guys forgot to mention that WinCo is in Nevada, as well. Just an FYI

  • ModernMode

    I think not accepting credit cards is going to hurt them in the long run.

    • DemosCat

      That may depend on whether or not stores begin to charge for credit card use, as some stores have threatened to do.

    • ManoaHi

      Not necessarily. Besides the fees that they have to pay if they accept credit cards, they don’t have to worry about credit card fraud and don’t have to adhere to PCI.

  • Shelley Harrell-Steen

    WINCO stands for Washington Idaho Nevada company. They don’t need to accept credit cards to be worth a longer drive to the grocery store. They don’t have to offer coupons either. They’re just doing it right. I’ve been shopping with them for more than 20 years, with no complaints. Employee owned is a good thing, and keeps things down to earth.

  • Mamatoni6

    Went into a WinCo a few years ago between stops while we were moving. I thought it was like an Aldo, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I told my husband maybe this company will be the ruins of Walmart lol. I do have to say it kinda sucked that they didn’t except credit cards, as we don’t carry hardly any cash when we have to move, but would still definitely shop there. So sick of Walmart I haven’t been in one in over a year. Good luck WinCo!

  • Cindy Kadinger

    Between Wal-Mart and Winco, my grocery store is slowly losing tons of business and many of the stores have closed. These big box stores move in and can nearly wipe out a small town and their shops, such as hardware stores, clothing boutiques, grocery stores. I’m a fan of capitalism, but we all still need to support our local stores as well. Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that small, local stores offer great discounts, clearance items and friendly customer service (they actually say “thank you” after you give them money for your purchase).

  • lerose55

    I would like to see Winco in N.E. Tn. Pigeon Forge .or nearby. We can use a reasonable grocery store. I will be the first to wait in line. I have been reading up on Winco its owned by its employees, they give great benefits and vacation time. You bring your own bags to save money.
    Walmart has been treating its employees and customers terrible for to long. They have full time employees that qualify for food stamps and Medicaid because they don’t pay enough for their employees to live on. This is where our tax money is going supporting Walmarts employees.
    Min. wage should be 10.00 an hour, no one can live on less.

  • Bob K

    Since Reagan was president, the incomes of both the working poor and the middle class have not risen (by design). The average worker earns no more now, than they did in the early 1980s. Walmart is one reason why this is so. I hope this means their demise is inevitable.