SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

October 17, 2012

A place to buy a place for everything

The Container Store opens Saturday in Peabody

(Continued)

The retailer is privately held, with a compounded annual growth rate of 24 percent since the first store opened in Dallas in 1978.

In 2007, Tindell led the process to sell a majority stake in the company to the Los Angeles-based Leonard Green & Partners, according to a company statement.

The 10,000 items The Container Store sells are meant to help people feel less fragmented.

“We kind of give you the gift of organization,” Tindell said. “In this day and age, we have to be organized to get done half of what we want to do.” About 85 percent of The Container Store’s customers are women. It tends to attract those with high incomes.

“The busier she is,” Tindell said of the company’s loyal customers, “the better the customer she is for The Container Store.”

In a sense, the store is not selling sleek shelving systems, drawers for your socks and tie racks that slide out from the shelf; it’s selling exuberance.

“It feels great to have a perfectly organized closet or garage,” Tindell said.

The store places an emphasis on customer service. Normally, retailers train their employees for eight to 10 hours, but The Container Store salesperson receives 272 hours of training.

“We are fanatics on customer service,” Tindell said. The reason is getting someone organized and helping them find the right toy box or system for a kids’ play area is “a creative process.” The company has made Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” 13 years in a row.

The Container Store takes its time opening stores, with the idea of perfecting the ones it has instead of going for growth. It opens about six a year, Tindell said. Despite the sluggish economy, the retailer has seen a year-to-date sales growth rate of 19 percent. Tindell also has his ear to the ground when it comes to retailing as vice chairman of the National Retail Federation. He says The Container Store’s growth rate is about double that of other retailers.

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