Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 78

America's Thrift Stores
ship and team-building to the training program, because
ostensibly - while they need to know how to do the work
- we're hiring them to ultimately run a store someday."
Another change has been in the people who are recruited
for the training program. "We've really upped the criteria
on what it takes to enter the program," Sobaski continues.
"Historically, probably one out of every four individuals in
the program had a bachelor's degree. Now it's four out of
five, and those that don't are more than likely long-term employees who we're willing to make a bet on and help them
with a career path." Manager trainees also must be willing
to relocate to another store location for a position or they
cannot join the training program.
Interviewing candidates from outside the company is a
three-step process. "There's a screening interview, then an
interview with a panel of leaders, and then my chief operating officer is the final interviewer - the gatekeeper," Sobaski
says. "It's a fairly rigorous assessment process because we
probably see on paper 50 to 100 candidates a month. My
guess is we extend offers to four out of 10 people we interview, and three out of four accept. We always have about
seven to 10 manager trainees at any point in time across
our 18 stores."

78

RETAIL-MERCHANDISER.COM

January/February 2015

Promotions Calendar
America's Thrift Stores has contributed $4 million over the
past 12 months to seven ministries it supports and solicits
donations in the name of, but its goal is to contribute $100
million over the next 10 years to the same ministries. To accomplish that goal and keep sales growing, America's Thrift
Stores has established a quarterly marketing promotion and
advertising calendar.
The company advertises primarily on radio and emails a
newsletter to 20,000 customers. It communicates with its
8,000 Facebook followers several times weekly. An in-store
signage program and sales floor optimization effort also are
underway. "We are trying to better align the space in the
store to the supply and the demand for the categories of
products we sell," Sobaski declares. The company also believes in reuse of store locations as it grows by adding stores
- it always locates its stores in existing retail facilities with
parking that preferably are near other value-oriented retailers, such as dollar stores.
America's Thrift Stores plans to achieve its financial goal
through sales growth in existing stores and by opening new
stores. "We believe that we can attain 3 percent to 5 percent comparable store growth," Sobaski asserts. "When we
achieve that, it will give us enough free cash flow to open
three to four stores annually. We are targeting opening two
to four stores in 2015."
Founded in 1984 and celebrating its 30th anniversary,
the company's culture is focused on achieving its goal to
contribute $100 million to Christian ministries. "We are
a mission-driven company," Sobaski emphasizes. "We're a
company that is honest, has high integrity and is focused on
employee engagement and our customer's experience." O


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015

Contents
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Cover1
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Cover2
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 1
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 2
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - Contents
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 4
Retail Merchandiser - January/February 2015 - 5
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