‘Superstore’: Is Amy’s Salary as a Manager Realistic?

Amy Dubanowski is officially the manager of Cloud 9, and everyone knows she makes $109,000 a year plus bonuses. The mother of two worked hard to move into the role, but for most people watching Superstore the salary came as a bit of a surprise. Did the writers of Superstore inflate Amy’s salary for effect, or can a store manager really make six figures? The answer will probably surprise you.

What store is Cloud 9 based on?

If you’ve ever seen Superstore, the layout of the fictional retailer probably looks familiar. Everything from the departments to the color scheme is strikingly similar to the famed Walmart. The similarities don’t stop there, though. Cloud 9 has a corporate headquarters, and so does Walmart. The team is always in competition with Target, one of Walmart’s real-life competitors and staff members wear blue vests that look remarkably like the vests that real Walmart employees wear.

It’s safe to say that Cloud 9 is absolutely based on Walmart, and if that’s the case, it’s easy enough to figure out if Amy’s salary is comparable with what a store manager makes. While Walmart has a reputation for underpaying its employees, its general managers actually take home a pretty impressive paycheck.

Is Amy’s salary attainable as a store manager?

Amy’s rise to store manager in Season 4 feels like a much-deserved promotion. She had a rough go at things for a while, and the managerial position appeared to be the push she really needed to feel like she was moving in some sort of positive direction. When she gets her contract, she accidentally hands it over to Garrett to read as a store announcement. What the entire store learns is that Amy will be making $109,000 a year.

America Ferrera as Amy
America Ferrera as Amy | Eddy Chen/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The entire store and the TV-viewing world gasped. So, is it possible for a store manager to make six figures? Absolutely. According to CBS News, Walmart is especially eager to shed its reputation for underpaying its employees. According to new reports, Walmart store managers can take home up to $175,000 each year when bonuses are factored into their salary. Store managers at the bulk giant, Costco, apparently make around $130,000 a year, according to Reader’s Digest.

Considering the real-life salaries from stores that Cloud 9 is based on, it’s safe to say that Amy’s salary is absolutely attainable. Whether it’s achievable in the area were this particular Cloud 9 is said to be located, as a first-year manager is an entirely different story.

Does cost of living factor into the equation?

Just like in real life, writers for series and sitcoms take the cost of living into account when deciding on salaries. The Cloud 9 store in Superstore is allegedly located in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis is a relatively low cost of living area. According to a recent report published by Move.Org, St. Louis has the 19th lowest cost of living for a major metropolitan area. An average person would need to spend around $1600 per month on basic necessities.

In contrast, the most expensive city in the United States is San Francisco. When rent and utilities are factored in, the average person would need to plunk down over $4,000 each month to survive. Amy’s salary doesn’t seem to take the cost of living into account. A general store manager at a big-box retailer like Target has a base salary of $81,000 to $114,000 depending on experience in a city like San Francisco, according to LinkedIn.  Sure, Amy’s been working as a floor supervisor for the company for years, but it’s unlikely she’d be nearing the top of the base salary range right away, and especially not in a city like St. Louis.

According to Linkedin, Amy’s base salary would have likely been closer to $70,000 a year, but it’s definitely possible for her to have made up to $109,000 when you factor in bonuses and other profit-sharing options. She’s also given additional perks, like a company car and an expense account. While some perks are definitely offered to managers like Amy, they are generally not as ostentatious as portrayed on the show.