DSW Inc Designer Shoe Warehouse
Courtesy of PR Newswire — DSW Inc.

Every fourth quarter, the retail industry beefs up its ranks with thousands of seasonal employees to assist with the holiday shopping frenzy. If you’re still looking for work, here’s where to apply.

By Christopher Tkaczyk
November 19, 2014

The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, so we asked our partners at Great Rated!, the pre-eminent workplace review site maintained by Great Place to Work, to compile a list of the best companies offering jobs in retail. Their research team surveyed thousands of current retail employees to find out what makes them happiest. At the top of their likes: advancement potential, flexible scheduling, and health insurance options — three things not usually associated with retail jobs. The companies mentioned here are split 50/50 with full-time and part-time workers. But landing a job with them won’t be easy. Over the past 12 months, these 20 companies filled 196,943 positions from a total of more than 3 million applications — a slim 6% success rate. So in other words, good luck.


CustomInk

Courtesy CustomInk

Headquarters: Fairfax, V.A.
Revenue: $171 million
Employees: 1,113
Number of locations: 6

Great Rated! review

This T-shirt printing company focuses on keeping employees happy and healthy. Each office has game rooms and fitness rooms equipped with treadmills, an elliptical trainer, fitness balls, yoga mats and weights. A rich benefits package covers 99% of team members’ health insurance premiums. And when staff is needed for busy weekend hours, the company offers weekend bonuses to anyone who volunteers to work—ranging from $150 to $300 per day —in addition to planned overtime. Team members also enjoy weekly catered meals, and when Inkers work a late night, dinner is ordered in.


Build-a-Bear Workshop

"The bears have a problem."
Photograph by Gustavo Caballero — Getty Images for Build-a-Bear

Best Companies rank: 63
Headquarters: St. Louis
Revenue: $379 million
Employees: 4,264
Number of locations: 242

Great Rated! review

During the busy holiday season, the personalized stuffed animal retailer delivers treats, lunches, and prizes to its hardworking store employees. These can include company items, drinks, and small cash bonuses. All employees can take a paid day off on their birthdays, and team members at headquarters find their desks decorated and adorned with snacks. Employees receive a special Collectibear on their anniversaries with the company, along with additional gifts for milestone years. Staffers can take advantage of the company’s concierge service, which helps handle chores like dry cleaning, oil changes, and more. Dogs brought to the company’s headquarters even have services of their own, including discounted grooming, day care, and a bus service to take them there.


QuikTrip

Photograph by Shane Bevel — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 48
Headquarters: Tulsa
Revenue: $12.5 billion
Employees: 16,864
Number of locations: 724

Great Rated! review

The convenience store and gas station chain uses mystery shoppers to evaluate employee performance. Those who receive a perfect score get a $50 bonus on their next paycheck. After one year of employment, workers are given 10 days of vacation and holidays. Eligible workers are able to buy into an employee stock ownership plan, and each year, both full-time and part-timer permanent employees receive a holiday bonus tied to their years of service. QuikTrip also has health clinics available for employees and their immediate family members and arranges employee discounts at various fitness centers.


Nugget Market

Courtesy of Shawn Hall/Nugget Market, Inc

Best Companies rank: 36
Headquarters: Woodland, Calif.
Revenue: $275 million
Employees: 1,213
Number of locations: 14

Great Rated! review

The California-based grocery store chain pays 100 percent of the health insurance premiums for employees and 82 percent for their dependents. Employees also receive a 10 percent discount on groceries. The company recognizes good work with parties, cash gifts and awards. Each store names an associate of the month, who can spin the wheel for cash prizes, and an associate of the year, which comes with a cash award. All associates who work at the store that wins the annual President’s Cup receive bonuses. All stores have a large, flat-screen monitor that displays notices, information, event details and messages from the CEO.


Wegmans Food Markets

Photograph by Suzanne Kreiter — Boston Globe via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 12
Headquarters: Rochester, N.Y.
Revenue: $7 billion
Employees: 43,611
Number of locations: 85

Great Rated! review

With a majority of its workers in college, Wegmans allows those who need time off to finish school or tend to family needs to change their work hours as needed, using an online scheduling tool. Depending on their jobs, some employees may work a full-time schedule in four days rather than five. Company scholarships are available to help earn a degree. Full-time employees receive 50 percent of their tuition, with a maximum of $1,100 per semester for a total possible reward of $8,800 per employee over four years. Part-time employees receive 50 percent of their tuition, with a maximum of $750 per semester for a total of $6,000 over four years. Since the program’s inception in 1984, Wegmans has awarded more than $90 million in tuition reimbursement to more than 28,400 employees.


The Container Store

Photograph by RJ Sangosti — Denver Post via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 28
Headquarters: Coppell, T.X.
Revenue: 748 million
Employees: 6,000
Number of locations: 68

Great Rated! review

Though it only hires 3% of applicants (last year 49,441 people applied for 348 jobs), those who land a full-time sales job working for the organizational retailer have the opportunity to make an average of $50,000 a year. On average, the store looks to fill 40-50 positions for each new store opening. Among its expansion plans for 2015: three new stores in Arizona and a location in Overland Park, Kansas.


CarMax

Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 54
Headquarters: Richmond, V.A.
Revenue: $12.6 billion
Employees: 20,000
Number of locations: 141

Great Rated! review

The U.S.’s largest used car retailer prioritizes employee recognition. Employees who go “above and beyond” can receive a $1,000 bonus and are treated to a pizza party at their store. Honoroble mentions get a $100 gift card and are named in the company newsletter. Top associates win a membership in the Director’s Club; the strongest performers are inducted into the President’s Club and are invited to a gala dinner and treated to two nights in Las Vegas. Company holidays are often celebrated together, with cookouts held on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and New Year’s.


JM Family Enterprises

Courtesy of JM Family Enterprises, Inc.

Best Companies rank: 37
Headquarters: Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Revenue: $12.5 billion
Employees: 3,771
Number of locations: 27

Great Rated! review

Employees of this family-owned Toyota dealership receive a share of company profits through an incentive bonus awarded each December as well as a defined-benefit pension: the company also contributes up to 15% of compensation into their profit-sharing plan and 401(k)s. Managers also thank hard-working employees on the spot with $75 gift cards and larger bonus checks of $250 to $1,500. The company offers onsite health clinics and a 24-hour physician help line, and subsidized meals are available to employees at five onsite cafes. Employee recognition awards often come with trips to resort destinations via the company’s private jet or its founder’s megayacht. Employees with 10 years at the company (and every five years afterward) are given a weekend at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Those who’ve been with the company 25 years or longer are invited to fly there on the private plane.


L.L. Bean

Photograph by Pat Wellenbach — AP

Headquarters: Freeport, M.E.
Revenue: $1.6 billion
Employees: 4,966
Number of locations: 50

Great Rated! review

The clothing retailer’s Bean’s Best program celebrates workers who go the extra mile. Company leaders and co-workers parade through the office while wearing funny hats and cheering. The parade continues through the office or retail location until it stops in front of honorees, who received a catered reception, personalized video tributes, and gifts. All employees are encouraged to experience the outdoors with company-planned excursions for hiking, sea kayaking, camping, cycling, and snowshoeing. The Employee Use Room lends gear and sporting goods for free and some equipment for a small fee. L.L. Bean also owns and maintains seven camps and 10 tent sites on Maine’s Rangeley Lake, where employees can win discounted stays with their families via a company lottery.


Publix Super Markets

Grocery clerk James Delarosa takes inventory of the salad dressing and condiments aisle at a Publix Super Markets Inc.
Photograph by Luke Sharrett — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 75
Headquarters: Lakeland, Fla.
Revenue: $29 billion
Employees: 167,367
Number of locations: 1,097

Great Rated! review

One of the nation’s largest privately owned companies, the grocer is 100% employee-owned by more than 119,000 worker-participants in its employee stock ownership plan. Its common shares are not traded on any stock exchange and are given to active employees, who also have the option to buy more. The company celebrates employee recognition with an array of awards, ranging from dinners for years of service through prizes for pharmacy excellence and safe driving. Publix also arranges employee discounts for prescription drugs, cruise vacations, and tax preparation.


Sheetz

Photograph by Michael S. Williamson — The Washington Post/Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 87
Headquarters: Altoona, P.A.
Revenue: $6.9 billion
Employees: 16,000
Number of locations: 485

Great Rated! review

The convenience store chain, which has 485 locations in six Mid-Atlantic states, gives employees a 50% discount on all made-to-go food and specialty coffee drinks. During work hours, coffee and fountain drinks are free. All employees receive bonuses based on their store’s profitability and performance in quality assurance and customer service. In 2013, annual bonuses averaged $345 for salespeople, $784.80 for shift supervisors, $2,544 for assistant managers and $20,960 for store managers — totaling more than $41.5 million. The company offers myriad training opportunities that allow entry-level hourly workers to move up and become shift supervisors, assistant managers, and managers. Sheetz says 68% of its store managers started off in entry-level positions.


Zappos.com

Courtesy of Zappos.com

Best Companies rank: 38
Headquarters: Las Vegas
Revenue: $2.6 billion
Employees: more than 1,440
Number of locations: 4

Great Rated! review

The online shoe retailer owned by Amazon offers various personal services and conveniences to employees: onsite laundry service, car washes, fitness classes, educational seminars, lunch and learns, the list goes on and on. An adoption benefit program reimburses new parents up to $6,000 for adoption-related expenses and allocated paid time off. Pet owners can adopt dogs and cats with no adoption fee and have access to discounted pet insurance. The company’s employee assistance program can also help find pet sitters and walkers.


Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)

Photograph by Elaine Thompson — AP

Best Companies rank: 69
Headquarters: Kent, W.A.
Revenue: $2 billion
Employees: 10,440
Number of locations: 138

Great Rated! review

The outdoor and adventure gear retailer is organized as a co-op and has a profit-sharing plan that rewards employees with extra earnings of up to 15 percent of their annual base pay (5% guaranteed and up to 10% based on company profit). All employees can receive a 50% subsidy for public transit and bike commuters have access to showers, towels, lockers, and bicycle storage at most locations. The company encourages employees with $300 challenge grants, which can be used for REI products or activities. Last year, some recipients backpacked in the High Sierras, paddled in the Everglades, and ran a marathon in Thailand.


Whole Foods Market

Photograph by Ty Wright — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 44
Headquarters: Austin
Revenue: $12.9 billion
Employees: 76,726
Number of locations: 422

Great Rated! review

New hires at the food retailer must be approved by their future co-workers, who get a chance to vote on their employment and submit written feedback to the job candidates. The company’s open book policy shares financial information with everyone, including sales figures from other stores. Employees and their families get a 20% discount on store purchases and health-conscious team members can get a further discount of up to 30%. In addition to health insurance benefits, the company pays $300 to $1,800 to full-timers, who can use that money to cover co-pays or other health expenses.


DSW

DSW Inc Designer Shoe Warehouse
Courtesy of PR Newswire — DSW Inc.

Headquarters: Columbus, O.H.
Revenue: $2.4 billion
Employees: 10,132
Number of locations: 432

Great Rated! review

Buyers for the Designer Shoe Warehouse attend Merchant University, a six- to 12-month program to prep them for their new role. The company offers career mapping to help employees develop sales skills and toward a promotion. Some locations have special amenities to meet the needs of its staff. Staffers are awarded points for anniversaries and a job well done, which can then be used to buy gifts, such as electronics, jewelry, and furniture. Headquarters has a fitness center with group classes and personal trainers and an onsite company cafeteria that serves breakfast and lunch.


Pro Athlete

Courtesy of Pro Athlete, Inc.

Headquarters: Kansas City
Employees: 72
Number of locations: 1

Great Rated! review

Sporting goods retailer has an onsite pool, batting cage, weight room, and chef to cook healthy meals for employees every day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The onsite fitness center also includes a physical trainer and yoga teacher, weight and cardio rooms, sauna, hot tub, and basketball and racquetball courts. Employees receive recognition awards for years of service. Those who reach the five-year mark receive a paid trip for four to Orlando along with tickets to Disney World.


Room & Board

Photograph by Wendy Maeda — Boston Globe via Getty Images

Headquarters: Golden Valley, Minn.
Revenue: $340 million
Employees: 811
Number of locations: 24

Great Rated! review

The furniture retailer is flexible when it comes to employees taking time off. There’s no limit to the vacation days—as along as no one abuses the privilege. A career transition program allows workers in physically challenging jobs to find work that might be less demanding; the company provides training and covers the costs associated with making a career switch. Employees also have access to a wellness manager, a financial planner, and a personal trainer.


Etsy

Inside Etsy Labs in Brooklyn
Courtesy of Etsy

Best Medium-Size Companies rank: 19
Headquarters: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Employees: 484
Number of locations: 3

Great Rated! review

Employees at this online marketplace for artisanal and handmade goods enjoy locally sourced catered lunches every Tuesday and Thursday and received a $100 gift card to design their own workspaces. Colleagues teach each other different skills via the onsite Etsy School, which hosts a variety of curricula from music theory to cooking to electronics hacking. Employees also hang out together outside of work—the annual company ski trip is known as EtSki. The company also hosts an annual Hack Week, where staff put aside their regular work and focus on collaborating across teams to work on inspiring projects.


Goodmans Interior Structures

Photograph by Ken Easley

Headquarters: Phoenix
Revenue: $60 million
Employees: 145
Number of locations: 4

Great Rated! review

This dealer of office furniture focuses on maintaining a healthy workforce. Its GoodBlance wellness program allows employees to earn paid time off for meeting goals in a weight management challenge, as well as one-on-one coaching to share exercises and address risk factors. Bi-weekly massages are also available onsite.


ZOZI

Courtesy of ZOZI

Headquarters: San Francisco
Employees: 44
Number of locations: 1

Great Rated! review

There’s no set vacation policy at this active lifestyle retailer, which sells gear and organizes trips and local experiences via the web. The founder answers questions during monthly town halls meetings. Staff get unlimited time off and $1,600 each year to spend on company products and team members are encouraged to nominate colleagues for gift cards for good work. Every team member also received $1,200 per year for professional development, which can be spent on classes, conferences, books, and seminars.

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