How the Container Store Stacks Up, Ethically

Last week, I published a post about The Container Store, evaluating whether or not its place (#27) on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work 2015 was justified. My main method of evaluation was investigating reviews of the company on Ultimately, many posts by current employees corroborated positive case studies and articles I found on the company, while other posts from the past couple of years alluded to changes in business strategy and unfair treatment of employees, possibly as a result to the company’s 2013 IPO.

For Paper 2, I would like to delve into this company further. Several articles evaluate the company and point out its positive attributes, ones uncharacteristic of the retail industry. A 2015 article by Bloomberg Business highlights many of the differentiating values and strategic aspects of The Container Store, but questions whether investors will force the company to lower its above-average wages, considering its stock has been declining since its IPO.

Screen shot 2015-03-20 at 7.53.41 PM
The Container Store (TCS) stock for the past two years. Courtesy of Yahoo Finance.

The article points out that this company, alongside Whole Foods,, Costco, and Southwest Airlines, aspires to a concept called “conscious capitalism”. This goal of having a higher purpose for the company conflicts with demands for short-term results. The Container Store’s CEO, Kip Tindell, has been seeking advice from his college friend, and co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey as well as co-founder of Costco, Jim Sinegal. Sinegal told Tindell “not to pay attention to the stock price for the first 10 years” and not to run his business in the short-term. A business analyst agrees, pointing out the biggest struggle for executives with high ideals is to ensure the company sticks to them 100%, not 95%.

Considering the reviews on, I wonder if The Container Store’s values have slipped a bit.

For my paper, I plan to point out the positive ethical behaviors and business strategy behind the company as well as investigate the more recent conflict of shareholder demands and company values. I will evaluate the company’s ethics using deontological principles, considering it believes in a higher duty and principles of what’s right. The Container Store seems to follow the Golden Rule and consider many stakeholders in its business strategy. But again, I will evaluate their goals and past behavior to their current practices and concerns.

From my post last week or this brief overview, are there any other ethical approaches you think I should consider? Have you read anything about The Container Store that I could incorporate into my paper? Do you have any personal experience with the store/company?

Featured image: The original store in 1978. (Source: The Container Store)

7 thoughts on “How the Container Store Stacks Up, Ethically”

  1. I’ve never been to a Container Store, but just by its name I wonder how marketing myopia factors into the pressures on the store’s success and values – especially if competitors are more flexible with expansion and change.


  2. I would consider what how their change in business strategy and unfair treatment of employees has affected the company culture, since they have prided themselves on their fair treatment to employees. Also think about their environmental and economic impacts on the local community they operate in.


    1. Thanks for the feedback WIlliam. I will be sure to look into the company’s other stakeholders, especially the effect the company has on the communities it has stores in.


  3. I agree with William, maybe look at how the company has changed past the 10 years and how it has made the company more unethical. I have been to the container store! Although my mom is a fan, I personally think everything is overpriced and can be found elsewhere for much cheaper.


    1. It’s a fun place to explore but I actually agree that it is on the pricey side and many items can be found online elsewhere. Perhaps this is what is impacting its sales and stock price. I wonder how they can change if the issue is mainly the growing, current culture of shopping around online?


  4. The focus on the golden Rule seems like it sets up using a Kantian/deontological approach.

    For the policy paper, you could further with Stout’s argument that shareholder primacy is an ideology and a problem. For example, should management education change? Financial reporting? Some sort of movement among investors or boards of directors?

    The Aspen Institute is one think tank that has described and promoted the idea of “slow capitalism” as a kind of ideological counter to shareholder primacy.


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