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Ocean State Job Lot raises worker pay and adds voluntary surcharge on prices to be paid out as employee bonuses

Ocean State Job Lot logo

Ocean State Job Lot CEO Marc Perlman, announced today the discount chain has given a $2 hourly pay increase to workers at its stores - which include several locations in Boston suburbs - and added a surcharge to its prices for customers who think the workers deserve a bonus for continuing to work on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic:

We have increased their pay $2 per hour, they can purchase anything in our store at 30% off, and we are adding a 2% surcharge on all merchandise sold, all which will be paid to our store associates as a bonus. You may decline to pay this 2% surcharge if you choose.

In addition:

While we continue to sell food, gloves, toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants and sanitizers, and other essentials, we will not be selling any surgical or N95 masks in our stores. Using the $250,000 we’ve already donated, and the dollars you are contributing at our registers, we are purchasing over one million of these masks. One hundred percent of them will be donated to hospitals and first responders to help save their lives, so they can help save ours.

The chain has also adjusted its hours:

We are open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Our stores are also hosting a shopping hour for those at higher risk, including customers ages 60+, every Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.




Yes, they did help. (I'll submit this on this website -> https://didtheyhelp.com/)

We need to remember these places in months to come.

2% markup is nice. Its optional and it appears to go directly to helping people, and not some accounting trick to bring money and "make a donation" later. Perlman's balance sheet should be very simple to review because of this. Yay for transparency.

Voting closed 73

When this is all over (and now, where possible), I'll be supporting the hell out of businesses, local and chain alike, that are taking care of their people and first responders now. I hope a lot of you will as well.

Voting closed 68

Yes, absolutely. I'm surprised I haven't yet seen a list shaming/praising companies. Screw you, Boston Sports Club. Trader Joe's, TJX, REI, you're cool

Voting closed 13

Somehow he and Delaware North were missing from that list.

Voting closed 16

How many people does everyone here think will be willing to pay the extra 2%? Some will, but I doubt it's going to be a high percentage of the customers.

Voting closed 10

I still have a job, so there's that. But I'm tipping heavily these days.

Voting closed 37

Given that the economy is going into a recession, and most of the low-income workers have lost their jobs because they can't telecommute.

On a side note, it's also somewhat surprising that the company is buying the 1 million masks and not allotting any to its public-facing workers. But that's maybe just the way it is - the poor getting the short end of the stick every time.

Voting closed 10

They can put up sneeze guards or plexiglass to protect workers from potentially sick customers. Healthcare workers are in a small room with known Covid19 patients who aerosolize the virus. They need masks or will get sick.

Voting closed 4

Actually, hospitals and medical workers on the front lines should get these first. They are reusing masks right now. Without the medical workers, we are all lost.

Voting closed 5

Shopped in the Middleboro store the other day. There was a box of face masks and gloves at the register for employees as they came into work. Not sure if it was store specific.....

They also had taped the floor at the registers to mark 6 ft parameters. A recording was play asking customers to pay debit or credit only.

Voting closed 12

Its been easy for me to ignore the "do you want to donate a dollar to ???" line that comes up when swiping at a register for many years. I think most folks (myself included) would feel quite differently when confronted with this choice in our current environment.

Voting closed 23

You "donate" a dollar.

What really happens is that you give the store a dollar, and then they get to make a donation from them, which helps them with their taxes.

You don't think they're all doing it out of the goodness of their heards.

This Job Lot thing I can get on board with, because he/it is doing it to help employees.

As to the upthreader who said how many people will take advantage of this: that's a great question I bet behavioral economists would want to find out. Because it requires an action to remove the fee, I would be far, far fewer people will remove it. Heck, they could try having the fee be voluntary, but you have to add it, at some stores, while at others have it be voluntary, but you have to subtract it, and see how behavior changes.

Voting closed 5

That's what I like about it. While I think its great he's doing this, but forcing everyone to pay 2% more? its a fine line in his market to cross

Job Lots runs a tight margin store, so to increase all products 2% might sway others to go elsewhere. His market are people on a budget, so 2% can be alot to some people. for someone on a tight or fixed income, a buck on a 20 dollar item can make a difference.

It's also good to note that he would have to raise prices to do this, and changing his strategy, and change his pricing structure.

Doing it as an optional add on, is a simple accounting and PoS system change. OSJL amazingly runs a decent PoS system (again, part of their business plan.. tight inventory helps keep prices down), so its a change some IT person can roll out without much effort.

Then it just becomes a button on the register (or a popup to for the cashier to click to confirm the 2%) making it entirely optional to the customer.

Perlman just gets it. But then again, its why he's survived for many years while many of his competitors have gone away. And he's in a position to buy close outs from other stores and manufacturers looking to unload merchandise, so very often he comes into the types of supplies medical professionals are looking for, and he's buying them for pennies on the dollar.

Perlman had an opportunity to be a 100% sleaze but he chose the right thing to do.

(about 95% of this is all my own educated guess how Ocean State runs or how Perlman runs his business, but as a customer who likes these stores.. I've paid attention over the years)

Voting closed 25

2% can be [a lot] to some people. [For] someone on a tight or fixed income, a buck on a 20 dollar item can make a difference.

I agree with most of your comments, but wanted to point out that your arithmetic is off: 2% of $20 is 40 cents. That still could make a difference to someone on a very tight budget, but if you're going to throw around numbers it's worthwhile to get them right.

Voting closed 14

A few months ago-just before the holidays - maybe it was 2018- I recall their doing something similar for troops/first responders. They were asking for donations at the register and playing a PA recording throughout the store about it the fundraiser. When I got to the register it didn't catch me off guard bc I heard the recorded announcement ahead of time.

Voting closed 4

The key here is that they've made the fee "opt out." Given that, I think a high percentage of customers will pay it. Saying no basically means "I don't think employees deserve extra pay for putting their health at risk on a daily basis." Oh really?!

Voting closed 7

gave employees a $2 increase nearly 4 weeks ago, It was slated to expire on 4/4 but was just extended through 4/15. No voluntary 2% surcharge though...

Voting closed 17

n/t :(

Voting closed 8

That raise should be permanent

They are paid just above minimum wage, often working long hours. Part of their business plan is less employees = less labor = keeps costs down.

But these stores are staying open because they are vital to many communities the serve, as in many communities these are the grocery stores.

Voting closed 11