Photograph by Tory Williams
By Jonathan Chew
November 24, 2015

As the holiday season gets underway, retailers face the busiest shopping period of the year, meaning hours—and lines—can be long. But which companies have created a great work environment for their teams of customer-facing employees?

To find out, we partnered with Great Places to Work, the consulting and research firm behind Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, to determine the best workplaces in the retail industry. As they surveyed thousands of employees, many patterns emerge among the standouts: generous medical coverages, awesome office discounts, and a parade of onsite benefits to keep workers happy and healthy. But there are also numerous examples of companies that strive to stand out from the rest, from higher-than-normal minimum wages to creative ways of fostering an internal work culture of encouragement. In short, these 20 companies are focused on keeping customers—and employees—happy.

Here’s Fortune’s second annual list of the best workplaces in the retail industry.

 


1. Build-A-Bear Workshop

Courtesy of Build-A-Bear Workshop

Best Companies rank: 59
Headquarters: St. Louis
Revenue: $392 million
Employees: 4,216
Number of locations: 244

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The make-your-own stuffed animal retailer is serious when it comes to celebrations – employees get a paid day off on their birthdays and receive a special Collectibear on anniversaries with the company. During the busy holiday season, store associates receive treats, lunches, and prizes for their hard work. If time is hard to find for errands, staff members can use the company’s concierge service to complete chores like dry cleaning, oil changes, and even dog grooming services. Oh, and every day is “bring your dog to work” day.


2. Nugget Market

Staff at a grocery store in Elk Grove, Calif., strike a pose.
Courtesy of Nugget Market

Best Companies rank: 26
Headquarters: Woodland, Calif.
Revenue: $280 million
Employees: 1,555
Number of locations: 17

Read the Great Places to Work review.

This family-owned grocery store chain has never laid off a single employee in its 89-year history. Instead, the company pays 100% of their workers’ health insurance premiums, and even part-time staff members are eligible for full-time medical benefits. Flexible scheduling is also a key benefit here, as employees earn up to five weeks of paid vacation time, and an additional 56 hours of paid time off for work-life balance. And for those who need to shop for after-work dinner, the company gives a 10% staff discount on its groceries.


3. CustomInk

Courtesy of CustomInk

Best Companies rank: 62
Headquarters: Fairfax, Va.
Employees: 1,342
Number of locations: 6

Read the Great Place to Work review.

This custom apparel company has a workplace that receives high marks for its caring, communal spirit. Inkers – as employees who work here are called – get free breakfast and lunch on a regular, daily basis. A rich benefits package covers 99% of team members’ health insurance premiums, and there are onsite medical facilities, a fitness center and free flu shots. For those who travel out of town on business, there’s childcare reimbursement as well.


4. Wegmans Food Markets

Wegmans is planning to open a Brooklyn location, where it will compete with Whole Foods and Fairway.
Photograph by Suzanne Kreiter — Boston Globe via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 7
Headquarters: Rochester, N.Y.
Revenue: $7.56 billion
Employees: 44,272
Number of locations: 117

Read the Great Place to Work review.

Since 1984, Wegmans has awarded more than $100 million in educational scholarships to more than 32,000 employees, with no obligation of continued employment. There’s also a three-year internship program for those who enter the grocery chain’s workforce, and the company invests $50 million a year in formal training programs. The company also takes a keen interest in the health of its staff, offering them benefits and programs that include free blood pressure and health screenings, tobacco cessation, subsidized Weight Watchers, and yoga.


5. RevZilla.com

Courtesy of RevZilla.com

Headquarters: Philadelphia
Revenue: $75 million
Employees: 162
Number of locations: 3

Read the Great Place to Work review.

This e-commerce retailer is the go-to place online for motorcycle enthusiasts, and has a number of imaginative ideas to rev up the workplace. There’s an eight-foot-tall “prize wheel” that randomly awards a $100 gift card to lucky employees during weekly meetings. There’s also a 14-foot trampoline, a skate ramp, an onsite gym, laundry room and after-hours yoga classes. Zillans, as staff members are fondly referred to, also get weekly catered lunches every Tuesday.


6. The Container Store

Photograph by RJ Sangosti — Denver Post via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 27
Headquarters: Coppell, Texas
Revenue: $782 million
Employees: 4,905
Number of locations: 73

Read the Great Place to Work review.

Around 50,000 job-hunters applied for a position at this organizational retailer last year, and anyone who lands a sales job receives around $48,243 in annual salary and additional cash compensation. For employees who stay for 20 years, they receive two airline tickets to anywhere in the U.S. and $1,000 in spending money. The company loves new births too; new mothers receive eight weeks of paid maternity leave and up to 12 weeks off, while dads are offered two weeks of paid leave. And on Valentine’s Day, staff members are showered with gifts and love notes from the company.


7. MOD Pizza

1410313-198 The MOD Pizza North Hollywood Opening on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, in North Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)
Photograph by Ryan Miller — Capture Imaging

Headquarters: Bellevue, Wash.
Employees: 2,000
Number of locations: 83

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The MOD Bridge Fund acts as an emergency lifesaver for those who work at this pizza chain, offering financial assistance to employees during unforeseen circumstances. Team members who stand out are hand-picked to be a part of the company’s “All Star” team, where they canvas stores as culture carriers and train new employees. Managers are awarded monetary bonuses based on their store performance, and there are full health benefits as long as employees work over 26 hours a week.


8. Sheetz

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

Best Companies rank: 87
Headquarters: Altoona, Penn.
Employees: 15,044
Number of locations: 508

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The convenience store chain, with over 500 stores in six Mid-Atlantic states, offers generous bonus schemes. There are quarterly bonuses for all team members, and 35 to 40% of the company’s pre-tax profits usually go towards these bonuses – in 2013, the company gave out around $40 million in bonus money. The recognition doesn’t stop there, as the company also recognizes outstanding service at its annual Employee Recognition & Service Awards, and employees with at least five years of service can stay for at least two days at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort. The company also gives employees a 50% discount on prepared foods purchased in-store, and during work hours, coffee and fountain drinks are free.


9. QuikTrip

Courtesy of QuikTrip

Best Companies rank: 54
Headquarters: Tulsa
Employees: 20,342
Number of locations: 760

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The convenience store’s founder and CEO Chet Cadieux meets with his employees every year, and leaves them with a special gift and a chance to win either $500 or a week’s vacation. The company also honors employees on their work anniversaries: those that hit the one-year mark get a special jacket, while those that work for 20 years at QuikTrip receive $300 spending money and $5,000 in cash or stock in their retirement plan. There are also on-site health benefits that include breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and blood pressure screenings.


10. CarMax

Courtesy of CarMax

Best Companies rank: 64
Headquarters: Richmond, Va.
Revenue: $14.3 billion
Employees: 22,287
Number of locations: 158

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The largest used car retailer in the country goes out of its way to recognize its top achievers. The best performers are brought into the “President’s Club”, where they are invited to a gala at Las Vegas that includes complimentary travel and an overnight stay, dinner, dancing and entertainment. The best stores are treated to a steak cookout hosted by the company’s senior management. There’s also an “Above & Beyond” award that rewards employees who are especially helpful to co-workers or customers, and winners receive a cash bonus, a congratulatory letter from the CEO and a store-wide celebration event.


11. Publix Super Markets

A customer shops in the produce aisle at a Publix.
Photograph by Luke Sharrett — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 81
Headquarters: Lakeland, Fla.
Revenue: $30.8 billion
Employees: 175,208
Number of locations: 1,120

Read the Great Place to Work review.

One of the nation’s largest privately-owned companies is 100% employee-owned, and the grocery store chain provides its workers with an option to purchase more shares of the company’s privately-held stock. There is also tuition reimbursements of up to $12,800 given towards those holding degrees in accounting, industrial engineering, information technology, pre-pharmacy, marketing and business management. For those looking for further training, eligible staff members can receive up to $3,400 for courses or technical programs.


12. Recreational Equipment Inc (REI)

REI company sign.
Photograph by Diana Haronis/Moment Editorial via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 58
Headquarters: Kent, Wash.
Revenue: $2.2 billion
Employees: 11,941
Number of locations: 145

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The outdoor and adventure gear retailer truly encourages its employees to enjoy the sun. The company’s “Yay Days” gives all of its nearly-12,000 employees one paid day off every six months to go outside and spend the day outdoors. The company is organized as a co-op, and has a profit-sharing plan that rewards employees with extra earnings of up to 15% of their annual base pay (5% guaranteed and up to 10% based on company profits). There’s access to free and discounted classes at the company’s Outdoor School to learn new skills, and last year, 253 employees took a paid sabbatical, which is four consecutive weeks of paid time off for anyone who hits the 15-year mark at the company.


13. Trend Nation

Courtesy of Trend Nation

Headquarters: Las Vegas
Employees: 61
Number of locations: 1

Read the Great Place to Work review.

This data-driven e-tailer gives out the “Trend Nation Champion Belt” to a weekly winner who, according to his or her colleagues, goes the extra mile at work. The company also gives out a $500 education reimbursement to its every employees each year, and mothers are also eligible for 60-day job-protected maternity leaves.


14. L.L. Bean

Photograph by Pat Wellenbach — AP

Best Companies rank: 56
Headquarters: Freeport, Maine
Revenue: $1.6 billion
Employees: 5,676
Number of locations: 57

Read the Great Place to Work review.

All employees at this clothing retailer are eligible to join the company’s Outdoor Discovery Schools, where they can learn new skills, discover the perks of nature and enjoy outdoor tours at reduced rates. Those that want to take it a step further and go on a hike or bike trip can borrow the company’s gear for minimal amounts of money, or purchase merchandise at discounts that range from 20 to 40%. 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.


15. Sphero

Berberian shows how BB-8 can spin while holding its head.
Photograph by Kacy Burdette for Fortune

Headquarters: Boulder, Colo.
Employees: 68
Number of locations: 1

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The robot-loving startup behind the popular BB-8 toy droid from Star Wars is light years ahead of other nascent peers with their employee benefits. The company covers 100% of healthcare premiums for all employees and dependents, and reimburses a monthly amount of $75 for cell phone service and offers $200 for an annual phone upgrade. Employees also received three catered meals a week, and for those who need to work the calories off, Sphero offers $75 a month towards a gym membership or yoga classes. The force is indeed strong here.


16. 1-800 Contacts

Headquarters: Draper, Utah
Revenue: $550 million
Employees: 964
Number of locations: 2

Read the Great Place to Work review.

This Utah-based company has grown to become the world’s largest contact lens store, and prioritizes its employees’ health through “Life 360”, a wellness incentive program. Team members who make health-conscious choices – such as working out, attending a smoking cessation program or visiting their dentist – earn points that equate to extra cash rewards if a specific point total is reached. The company also organized a “Wellness Triathlon” that focused on improving the oral health, sleeping habits and water intake of their workers. For those who are mindful of their food intake and spending, the company offers 90%-discounted meals at their café, known as “The Grille”.


17. Whole Foods Market

An employee puts flamed cooked rotisserie chicken onto a pan after taking them out of the oven at a Whole Foods Market Inc. store in Dublin, Ohio, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. Whole Foods Market Inc. posted fiscal fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts' estimates as the grocery-store chain slashed prices to win over bargain-hunting shoppers. The shares soared the most in four years. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Ty Wright — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 55
Headquarters: Austin, Tex.
Revenue: $14.2 billion
Employees: 91,055
Number of locations: 422

Read the Great Place to Work review.

On their first day on the job at this organic food retailer, new hires and their spouses or partners receive a 20% discount on store purchases. That can be raised to 30% if employees live a healthy lifestyle through the Healthy Discount Incentive program, and meet certain biometric criteria. Team members are also eligible to buy the company’s stock, and since Whole Foods’ IPO, 93% of stock options worth more than $1 billion have been given to its non-executive staff members. If employees are interested to know where the store’s produce comes from, they can travel for two to three weeks to communities where the company sources its products from through the in-house volunteer program.


18. Nordstrom

Photograph by Donato Sardella — WireImage/Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 93
Headquarters: Seattle
Revenue: $13.5 billion
Employees: 69,143
Number of locations: 333

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The fashion specialty retailer offers some of the most unique discounts in the industry, and chief among them is an offer of its stock to employees at a 10% discount off the closing market price. Workers get a 20% store discount, and managers and others who receive special recognition can see their discounts increase to 33%. For three times a year – during designated week-long periods in February, May and September – workers enjoy an extra 40% discount off all Nordstrom products. The company also deeply encourages new additions to the family; there’s a $2,000 reimbursement for adoption expenses, and a $400 store gift card for new parents to stock up on baby basics.


19. IKEA Holding U.S.

Caption:Customers checkout at an Ikea store in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. The U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to release monthly durable goods data on Sept. 24. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Michael Nagle — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Headquarters: Conshohocken, Penn.
Revenue: $32.1 billion
Employees: 14,224
Number of locations: 48

Read the Great Place to Work review.

The popular home furnishings chain firstly addresses one of the more relevant bullet points in the workplace: No IKEA location has a minimum wage below $10 per hour, and the wage floor is pegged to local living costs instead of employment standards. The company’s healthcare plan covers a wide range of medical cases that include infertility treatments, bariatric surgery, home health care and, starting from January 1, 2016, gender reassignment surgery.


20. Zappos.com

Photograph by Ronda Churchill — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Best Companies rank: 86
Headquarters: Las Vegas
Employees: 1,519
Number of locations: 4

Read the Great Place to Work review.

Not every company creates their own currency, but footwear retailer Zappos has with its internal “Zollars.” Employees can use these exclusive Zappo-denominated dollars to buy items on the Zollar Store for their co-workers, such as movie tickets, goodies, and raffle tickets to win televisions and GoPro cameras. Or if they feel like handing out cold hard cash, employees have the choice of giving inspiring colleagues $50 as well. There are also a number of on-site benefits to working here, including car washes, vehicle maintenance, dry-cleaning and massages.

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