“It's such an oxymoron to say retail is a great place to have a career,” says Beth Barrett, vice president of operations for The Container Store (www.containerstore.com). Yet that's exactly what this fast-growing retailer has created, landing it the number-one spot the last two years on Fortune's annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

The Dallas-based company, which projects sales this year of $262 million from its catalog and network of 22 retail stores, points to three main ingredients for its success: creating a team environment, rewarding staff with wages well above the industry average, and regular communication.

Instead of a traditional corporate hierarchy, eight to 10 salaried people operate each store as a team. “We know we have fabulous people working in our stores, and they don't need their hands held,” says Barrett. Communicating with the 1,600 team members is also critical. Regular store meetings convey company and store performance data, and sales meetings held two or three times a year bring together sales managers, store trainers, and other staffers. Every employee gets a copy of notes from these gatherings.

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