retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday on MNB we wrote about how "a 77-year-old, longtime Trader Joe's employee at its Coolidge Corner store in Brookline, Massachusetts, finds herself the beneficiary of a GoFundMe campaign after the retailer fired her for selling a six pack of beer to a family member who was a couple of months shy of turning 21.  (Gloria was just weeks away from a promised $4000.00 bonus for those who worked through the pandemic, but now is no longer eligible for this hard earned bonus.)

The goal of the fundraising campaign was $10,000 … and it already has raised more than $36,000 from some 589 people.  (That's up from more than $25,000 from 273 people just 24 hours ago.)

I commented:

Let's be clear.  We don't know all the details of this case.

But … if I'm understanding the recitation correctly, Gloria Cocuzzo actually reported her own misdeed.

And when I look at that GoFund Me page, I see hundreds of passionate customers and a pretty persuasive 563-word defense.

If it is legally possible, Trader Joe's needs to find a way to walk this decision back … there's no percentage in the company not siding with its customers on this one.

MNB reader Steve Ham disagreed:

Gotta agree with the painful decision to have her fired. Liquor laws are not ambiguous, nor open to interpretation.  It’s not like horse shoes & hand grenades – close is not good enough. 

Although she might have been a beacon of light, & a hardworking senior front line worker who was the model employee, she made an unacceptable decision.  Pay her the $4K bonus, let the go fund me create even more, and realize that there was no grey area. Even charming 77 yr old Gloria’s are not exempt from the law.

So did another MNB reader:

Sorry Kevin – I disagree.  Gloria probably violated at least two associate policies:

Waiting on a family member, and selling alcohol to a minor.

While #1 could have been written up as a warning, #2 can not.  If the minor had consumed the beer, got behind the wheel of a car and got pulled over (or worse) – Trader Joe’s would have been liable. 

I truly feel for Gloria, but being a 16 year veteran she should have known better!  It’s not clear whether she reported herself or was ‘called into the office’.  She may be a wonderful person and a favorite of the customers, but selling alcohol to a minor in MA is big offense!

But MNB reader Jerry Sternberg wrote:

If I were Trader Joes I would take a page from the history book and look at what loyal customers can mean to a beloved store person. Not that this is exactly the same thing but one should not forget how powerful customer response was to Market Basket.