It's not just the bulk toilet paper and $1.50 hot dog combos. There's more going on here.
1. The company pays a living wage. Costco's CEO and president, Craig Jelinek, has publicly endorsed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and he takes that to heart. The company's starting pay is $11.50 per hour, and the average employee wage is $21 per hour, not including overtime. Most other big box retailers start their employees at minimum wage.
2. Workers get benefits. About 88 percent of Costco employees have company-sponsored health insurance, according to David Sherwood, Costco's Director of Financial Planning and Investor Relations. "I just think people need to make a living wage with health benefits,” Jelinek told Bloomberg. “It also puts more money back into the economy and creates a healthier country. It’s really that simple.”
3. The CEO makes a reasonable salary. Costco's CEO makes far less than most executives, with a total compensation package of about $4.83 million in 2012. In contrast, Walmart CEO Mike Duke made roughly $19.3 million during the same year. Walmart's CEO earns as much as 796 average employees, according to CNN Money, compared to Costco's CEO making 48 times more than the company's median wage.
4. Costco helped its employees weather the recession. When the economic crisis hit and other retailers laid off workers, Costco's CEO approved a $1.50-an-hour wage increase for many hourly employees, spread out over three years.
5. Costco doesn't kill Thanksgiving. While many of its competitors are forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving Day, Costco will buck the trend and stay closed.
6. It also doesn’t waste money on expensive advertising. The company doesn't advertise nor does it hire a public relations staff. Meanwhile, Walmart dropped $1.89 billion on ads in 2011.
7. Its prices aren't horrendously high. Costco never marks up products by more than 15 percent, while most retailers commonly mark products up by more than 25 percent.
9. It hires from the inside. More than 70 percent of its warehouse managers began their careers working the register or the floor.
10. Costco's employees are loyal. For employees that have worked at the company for more than one year, the annual turnover rate is below six percent, according to Sherwood. For executives, the turnover rate is less than one percent.
11. Free samples. Need we say more?