Employer of the year

Everyone should be so lucky as to work for the J. M. Smucker company, according to Fortune magazine, which recently ranked the Ohio-based food and beverage firm eighth in its list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Last year, Smucker was “only” No. 24.

Smucker bought out the R. W. Knudsen plant in Chico, which has many longtime employees, several years back, so they should be happy campers. Fortune lauded Smucker for, among other things, giving employees unlimited paid time off to volunteer. The workers in Ohio can be taste-testers.

The most common hourly job, that of customer service representative, starts at $29,500 a year, which (from my reference point) would be beaucoup bucks in Chico. The most common salaried job, production supervisor, starts at $44,000—sweet.

Edward Jones, the stockbroker joint that also has offices in Chico, Oroville and Paradise, was No. 1.

Say it’s so, Joe’s

I wrote a little update on the Krispy Kreme situation a couple of weeks ago (it should be built by June) and was planning on doing the same with the always-rumored Trader Joe’s, but the spokesperson there hasn’t called me back. After a few weeks of nagging her with voicemail messages, I asked the operator if there was anyone else I could talk to, but she said the woman I’ve been trying to reach is “the top cheese here.”

That cheese, Pat St. John, did tell me back in June 2000 that the company’s priorities were expansion on the East Coast and in Washington state.

Not to be discouraged by Trader Joe’s continuing absence, Stacy McMillan of Chico has launched her own letter-writing campaign and has contacted at least 50 of her friends here asking them to write the company at P.O. Box 5049, Monrovia, CA 91017-7149 and beg them to build a store here.

McMillan points out the number of Bay Area transplants and others who would support the natural-foods superstore; people who “are tired of buying cases of wine at the time when we visit our folks in Sacramento or the Bay Area and having everyone in line look at us like we are lushes.”

“So, what do you say?” the letter continues. “Rents are cheap. We are not. Come give us another look.”

For a Limited time?

The owner of Sports Ltd., which has made its home in downtown Chico for 18 years, is considering a move to the former Safeway building on Mangrove Avenue. Matt Smith said the location would afford the sports equipment store more space to bring in more products. “I’ll be able to do things I’d wanted to do but couldn’t do for lack of space.” Parking is a breeze there, too.

Smith cautioned that the move is “not a done deal,” because even though the building’s owners have accepted his offer, there are still lease papers that need to be signed. “We are in negotiations with Safeway right now.”

If it goes through, he said, “I’ll miss downtown.”

Oh, K

Staying put are the Kmart stores in Chico and Paradise. The Kmart Corporation Jan. 14 released the list of 326 “underperforming” stores it’s closing as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

I scrolled down the list to find, among the 19 doomed stores in California, Carson and Chino, but no Chico. And no Paradise. The employees are likely breathing sighs of relief, along with the cities that benefit from the sales tax generated there.