Pay raise: Natural Grocers sets minimum wage at $11 an hour

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With 146 stores in 19 states, Natural Grocers (NG) is one of our nation’s original organic grocers.

Founded in 1955, NG started three years earlier than Trader Joe’s and a quarter of a century before Whole Foods came about.

Sixty-three years is a long time to be in business. Over that time, NG has learned a thing or two about keeping employees happy — which in turn keeps customers happy.

The store’s latest effort to show that it values its workforce comes in the form of a newly announced pay raise.

RELATED: Aldi vs. Kroger vs. Walmart: Which grocery store has the lowest prices?

How does $11/hour stack up against the competition?

Paying $11 an hour puts NG above Kroger in terms of starting pay. The latter recently raised pay to $10 an hour for select starting associates near its headquarters.

In addition, Target and Walmart both start employees at $11 an hour now.

But it’s a far cry from what Costco Wholesale pays. The starting wage there is a minimum of $13 an hour.

Of course, a starting wage is only one piece of an employee’s total compensation picture. In addition to a comprehensive benefits package including paid holidays, NG goes a step beyond for its workers with these perks:

  • Some stores give employees a discount. NG does that, but it does even more, too. Workers earn $1 of in-store credit for every regular hour worked.
  • Employees get special bonus birthday pay on their big day that’s equivalent to a day of wages.
  • Employees receive discounts of up to 30% off merchandise.
  • Nutrition education is a big push with free one-on-one sessions with in-store health coaches, free availability of video training assets and more.

If you’ve never shopped at Natural Grocers before, there’s one thing you should know before you venture out to their stores — there’s a bring your own bag policy.

The organic grocer doesn’t make any disposable plastic bag available at checkout. Instead, customers are encouraged to box their groceries up in the free cardboard shipping boxes that merchandise comes in. And while NG does sell reusable bags at checkout, the store encourages shoppers to bring their own from home.

It’s all part of the supermarket’s effort to be as green as it can be.

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring savings tips to that unique subset of individuals. He can be reached at theo@clark.com.
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