Current CEO: Barry Feld
The corporation Cost Plus has an interesting history behind its name. The first two words were intended to ask the question, “cost plus what?” The idea was to sell items at cost plus 10 percent. After realizing that the concept was too abstract to generate the desired reaction from the existing consumer base, it was discarded as a marketing concept, yet the title remained.
The store began operations in 1958 in San Francisco, California, in response to the local population’s fondness for merchandise discount retail stores. When the company started importing furniture, their popularity surged and their business plan was expanded to accommodate public demand for imports. The industry of imported merchandise is dominated by Pier 1, a primary competitor. Cost Plus is often compared to Pier 1, but it carries the significant distinction of being a discount outlet for many of the same kinds of items.
This creates an interesting dynamic between the marketing strategies of the two super-stores, as they attempt to convince consumers of their respective advantages. While Pier 1 maintains a lower inventory count, as well as emphasizing quality over price, Cost Plus uses an inverse strategy to position itself in the marketplace. Instead of selling high-quality imports with a modest selection, Cost Plus prefers the big warehouse full of items that are priced competitively.
The primary advantage of working at the company is the unusual atmosphere that is often lacking in other big-box stores. Cost Plus careers attract people who enjoy the difference in both the inventory and the conceptual basis of the company. This is somewhat of a consolation prize to entry-level workers who face similar wage and benefits conditions as other large retail workers.
Management positions, although compensated better than wage work, still offer significant limitations in the potential for career advancement or salary range. Because working at Cost Plus is often a matter of temporary work, such as during college or as a second job, the company often attracts people who are more interested in participating in the Cost Plus culture than in carefully planning a lifetime career. Cost Plus benefits employees who are interested in the merchandise and who may receive employee discounts in some locations.