The Container Store

Who Says a Trash Can Can’t Make You Smile?

Who Says a Trash Can Can’t Make You Smile?

*This post is part of Co-Founder and Chairman Kip Tindell’s Thoughts on Thriving Blog Series. Read other posts in the series here.

Think about some of your favorite things: your favorite pair of shoes, your very favorite tie, your absolute favorite car among all the cars you’ve ever owned. You’ve created an emotional connection to these things and because of that, they’re now worth more than what you paid for them. The merchant has succeeded in transcending value for you. I think it’s the highest art form of the merchant.

I’ve got a certain necktie, and when I wear it, I don’t just hear three or four people tell me, “Nice tie.” I hear something like fifteen people tell me, “Hey, Kip, that’s really a cool tie!” Every time I wear it, by the end of the day, I start to think, “I must be looking pretty damn good today.” Do you think that tie was worth what I paid for it?

I like to say that even a trash can really can make you smile. If it has high quality and innovative design, fits in that space in your kitchen perfectly, looks great, and functions beautifully, you’re not only happy with your trash can, you love it. Let’s be honest—you’re actually proud of your trash can! You might even show it to your sister‑in‑law or your next-door neighbor. No, that’s not aberrant behavior—you’re just passionate about something and want to share your enthusiasm.

Here’s a true story that gets to the heart of what I’m talking about. One day, a gentleman came into one of our Atlanta stores straight from his divorce proceedings. The papers had just been signed, and the first place he stopped on his way home was The Container Store. Why? Because his ex‑wife had gotten everything in the settlement—including one particular trash can. That trash can was so special to him that he needed to replace it immediately. Yes, it was only a trash can, but to him it mattered.
The man was ready for a fresh start, a new beginning—and fortunately, we were able to help him.

Transcending value and evoking an emotional connection. That’s what we look for in every product we include as part of The Container Store. That’s what we’re trying to create with our vendor partners when we develop products together. We want our customer to do a little dance every morning when she opens the door of her organized closet. We want our customers’ heart rate to increase just a bit when they walk out of our store or leave our online site with the perfect organization solution. That’s a key reason why people don’t just say they like The Container Store, they love The Container Store. People want emotion. That’s what they really want from a product, retailer, or brand. And that’s what we’re going for in all we do.