Our Foundation Principles
Not only was The Container Store built on great products, but it was structured around some very basic and fundamental business philosophies about treating employees, customers, vendors, shareholders and the community with respect and dignity. We call them our Foundation Principles™.
Our Foundation Principles were formalized in 1988, after we opened our Houston store. That store made us take a look at our business a little harder. From the day we opened the doors, the store did more business than we ever anticipated, which became quite overwhelming to our Houston store employees. We already had a 10-year-old company with strong values and culture; however, communicating this to an entire store of new employees, most whom never had been exposed to our stores or our way of doing business, was quite a challenge.
Our Chairman, Kip, struggled with how to clearly communicate our culture so that all the employees in the Houston store would act and make decisions using the same set of values and knowledge as the employees in the rest of the company.
In a moment of inspiration, he referred back to a file he had started many years ago called his “philosophy epistle file” where he’d saved various anecdotes, musings and philosophical phrases that he admired or thought of himself beginning in high school, through college and up to this time in the business. He invited the entire Houston store staff over to their Manager’s home and chose many examples to communicate the message that no matter how big the company became, our guiding principles and values would stay the same. Kip was nervous to be sharing all of these ideas that were so near and dear to his heart – but to his surprise they were incredibly well-received by the team!
Over the years, the philosophies that Kip shared that night were condensed into what are now our Foundation Principles. By understanding and supporting these principles, we can all respond in unison to similar circumstances. In other words, we act as a unit, all working toward the same goal. Retail is far, far too situational to attempt to achieve anything through inflexible rules and policies. So, instead of using the typical phone-book-sized retail procedural manual to guide our decision making, we use these Foundation Principles to keep us on track, focused and fulfilled as employees. With this combination of values-driven business philosophies and a one-of-a-kind product selection, The Container Store’s goal, with all due humility, is to become the best retail store in America!