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Sol Price summary

Robert E. Price

Retail Revolutionary and Social Innovator

4.2 (47 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Sol Price is a captivating biography that tells the story of a visionary entrepreneur, Sol Price. It highlights his journey in revolutionizing the retail industry and founding the iconic warehouse club, Price Club, which later became Costco.

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    Sol Price
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    Revolutionizing retail: Sol Price's journey from law to warehouse shopping

    Shopping in the 1950s wasn’t nearly as convenient as it is today. Most likely, you'd have had to travel downtown and visit multiple stores to get everything you needed. Food from the grocery store, tools from the hardware store, toys from the toy store.

    Enter Sol Price, a law professional turned retail visionary, who completely disrupted this conventional shopping experience. He dreamt of bringing affordable, all-in-one shopping right to people’s neighborhoods, and set a precedent for what we now know as warehouse shopping.

    After building a successful law practice in San Diego representing Jewish charities and businessmen, Sol became deeply acquainted with the intricacies of business. This immersion in the world of commerce led him to the doors of Fedco, a Los Angeles membership-only department store founded by federal government employees. Intrigued by their model, Sol, along with his client Mandell Weiss, decided to introduce a similar concept in San Diego. Thus, FedMart was born.

    Defying the norms of the time, FedMart opened its doors in 1954 in a warehouse away from downtown. The store also broke with traditional operating hours, opening evenings and Saturdays to cater to working families. For a one-time fee of just $2, shoppers could enjoy a lifetime membership, offering them access to discounted prices on items directly from wholesalers, a concept that then bypassed fair trade laws governing retail pricing. The success of FedMart was immediate and monumental.

    But Sol's vision extended beyond just low prices. Drawing from his legal background, he adopted an ethical approach, branding FedMart as a "low margin" rather than discount retailer. He marked up products just enough to cover costs, unlike his competitors, and earned customer loyalty with good service, quality products, and an unequivocal refund policy. Employees. too. were inspired by Sol's leadership, motivated by fair pay, profit sharing, and transparent communication.

    Innovation was the cornerstone of FedMart's success. It was the first store to sell food and general merchandise under one roof. Despite drawing the ire of pharmacists, FedMart soon brought prescription drugs to consumers at lower prices, even launching its own quality generic brand and pioneering the concept of bulk sizes. As FedMart expanded nationally, Sol’s influence grew, too, lowering prices, popularizing self-service shopping, and inspiring retail giants like Walmart, Kmart, and Target.

    But twenty years later, in 1975, Sol parted ways with FedMart when its new owner began to deviate from his principles. This didn’t mean the end of the road for Sol though – far from it. He went on to found The Price Company, opening the first Price Club, which after a 1993 merger became Price Costco. He also launched PriceSmart, extending the warehouse store concept to Latin America.

    CEOs like Jim Sinegal of Costco also credit Sol with teaching them the ropes of retail. But, even amid the accolades and successes, Sol remained humble, focusing on improving people’s lives over receiving recognition. 

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    What is Sol Price about?

    Sol Price: Retail Revolutionary & Social Innovator (2012) is a deep-dive into the life and legacy of Sol Price, a pivotal figure who reshaped consumer behavior in the United States and across the world. Authored by his son, it illuminates Price's disruptive retail strategies that birthed FedMart and Price Club, and spotlights his steadfast commitment to employee welfare and customer value, a practice that became an ethical cornerstone of his expansive business empire.

    Sol Price Review

    Sol Price is a thought-provoking book by Robert E. Price that sheds light on the life and accomplishments of the visionary entrepreneur Sol Price. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful perspectives into the business strategies and ethical values that guided Sol Price to build successful enterprises.
    • With its rich historical context and compelling storytelling, the book immerses readers in the journey of a remarkable individual who revolutionized retail.
    • Through anecdotes and interviews, it offers valuable lessons on leadership, innovation, and the importance of putting customers' needs first, ensuring that the narrative remains engaging and inspiring.

    Who should read Sol Price?

    • Those curious about the mechanics of the retail industry and its evolution
    • Aspiring entrepreneurs looking for inspiration and insight 
    • Philanthropists interested in understanding how successful individuals like Sol Price used their wealth for social good

    About the Author

    Robert E. Price, founder of PriceSmart, Inc. and The Price Co., is an influential business figure who has led eight different companies, including Costco Wholesale Corp. Currently, he serves as the executive chairman and chief executive officer of PriceSmart, Inc., is president of Aaron Price Fellows Program, Price Philanthropies Foundation, and Price Charities, and is manager of The Price Group, LLC.

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    Sol Price FAQs 

    What is the main message of Sol Price?

    The main message of Sol Price is about the life and work of Sol Price, the innovative American entrepreneur who revolutionized the retail industry.

    How long does it take to read Sol Price?

    The reading time for Sol Price varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Sol Price a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Sol Price is a fascinating read for anyone interested in business and entrepreneurship. It provides valuable insights into the life of a visionary entrepreneur and the impact he had on the retail industry.

    Who is the author of Sol Price?

    The author of Sol Price is Robert E. Price.

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