Opinion » Note

Back to Business


The four-day storm of Treefort has passed, and we here at Boise Weekly can't say enough about the bands, the crowds and, most of all, the organizers, who not only created a fantastic event but managed to cement--in just one year--a bona fide Boise institution.

BW went into war correspondency mode and covered the music festival from a fortified suite at The Modern Hotel, producing round-the-clock blog posts, interviews and slideshows of the goings-on. If you missed anything--or need to reminisce a little as part of a post-fest, multi-step recovery program--it's all still online at treefort.boiseweekly.com.

This week, it's back to business, literally, and among the big news in this week's edition is the confirmation, made by Mayor Dave Bieter on March 21, that Trader Joe's is indeed coming to Boise.

It's a story that BW has been covering for a while now, despite the fact that getting anyone in the know to talk about it felt like trying to break Watergate (well, that might be going a little far). Nonetheless, the rumors are true, and sometime in 2014, that monstrous gravel lot along Capitol Boulevard will be transformed into "your neighborhood grocery store," as the signs say.

While it's generally good news when any large employer opens a new location, more often than not, during the Great Recession, "new" jobs usually mean "low-wage" jobs--and that's one thing Idaho has plenty of. According to a Pew Research Center report, Idaho jobs paid nearly $11,000 less than the national average in 2009.

But, as a piece published March 25 in The Atlantic pointed out, Trader Joe's is among a handful of low-cost retailers that have found that by paying higher wages to entry level employees, they increase efficiency, improve customer service and see a boost in sales.

Are big retailers like Trader Joe's the recipe for economic recovery? By most all analyses, no. The economy is already brimming with service industry positions--often filled by overqualified workers cut down by the recession--which is a trend some economists predict can actually slow the recovery.

But if those retailers actually invest in their workers, as the Atlantic says Trader Joe's does, those new jobs can actually serve as pathways to something better; you know, like the American Dream, and all that.