The Philosophy of Yogurt


I have a love/hate relationship with my local grocery store. I know where to find things (until they randomly move something), I know many of the (understandably disgruntled) employees, and the price is reasonable (even though they employ marketing tricks a savvy third grader could see through).  I am always endlessly amused at the different “foodstuffs” I discover each visit, including $2000 horse sculptures (sold!), garden gnomes, lawn ornaments, furniture and bizarre tchotchkes.

Weirdly, the last three visits have included a second trip to another grocery store, as my chosen shop was out of something on my list. Yesterday it was buttermilk. The cashiers often ask “Did you find everything okay?” I said “No, there is no buttermilk. I’ll have to go to another store.” She replied “What do you use buttermilk for?”

This reminds me of a rude encounter I had at a hotel in Chicago. I was with a girlfriend, the kind that says all the things you wish you had the guts to say. We were checking out, and asked if they would store our luggage as our flight was not until hours later. The clerk asked why we didn’t just store it in our car. Um, because we don’t have one? Then my girlfriend requested a piece of paper and a pen. The clerk asked “What do you need it for?” She replied “To wipe my butt, then use the pen to check if I did a good job.”

but I digress. My local store, which I will not name but sounds very similar to Schmucks, is now planning to eliminate and outsource 190 warehouse worker positions, ironically some of the best paying jobs at their company, with salaries of $14-$22 per hour and benefits.  Many if not most store employees are part-time, and make minimum wage with no benefits.

Midwesterners are often accused of being a little backwards and/or behind the times. It does seem that Schmucks is stuck in the greed era of the 1990’s, you know, the greed that caused the economic crisis that still reverberates today?

Selfish, greedy business models, where the top get richer with no concern for anyone else, don’t work anymore. If you want to see an extremely successful, modern business model, just visit the store’s yogurt section.

Meet Chobani. This company, founded in 2005, was started by a Turkish immigrant, Hamdi Ulukaya. He began with a Small Business Administration loan and five employees. He now employs over 2000, and his business is valued between 3 and 5 billion dollars. He is a firm supporter of increasing the minimum wage. He also gives his employees, the overwhelming majority full-time, benefits such as health insurance with dental and vision coverage, life insurance, 401k plans, paid sick days, vacation and holiday, mobile phone discounts, free lunch and snacks, gym memberships, etc.

He just recently announced the employees would be given 10% stock of his company, which would average out to about $150,000 per employee, with the longest employed getting up to a million dollars. He said “We used to work together. Now we are partners.”

But maybe this “new” business model isn’t so new, after all. Schmucks likes to tout  Grandpa Schmuck’s philosophy “In our family, and in our company, we try to treat the other fellow as we want to be treated.” I doubt in anyone in the Schmuck family wants to be treated to outsourcing, with encouragement to reapply for the same position, at less than half the salary and no benefits.

I humbly suggest Chobani is more in line with Grandpa Schmuck’s ideals than you are. Ultimately it’s your business, and your decision. I will make mine accordingly.


About cherichat

No better way to get to know me than by reading my blog. It is much more the truth than you would see in person.
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