Community

A Hope-Filled Homecoming in New Orleans

Nine years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans East community, leaving a path of devastation in its wake. Our Walmart store was just one of the many buildings destroyed.

After the storm, we promised to reopen our doors in the area, and as of June 11, I’m proud to be able to say that we’ve followed through.

For many, Walmart is a staple of everyday routine: grabbing groceries, crossing items off a shopping list. But for New Orleanians, this new supercenter is a symbol of recovery and opportunity. It will bring much-needed retail to the particularly hard-hit New Orleans East and will act as a catalyst for growth in the area.

When we opened the hiring center for this Walmart, more than 3,600 applications were submitted. By investing in this new store, Walmart has brought more than 400 new jobs to the area, and 65% of the store’s associates are residents of New Orleans East.

Twenty-five of the associates employed at this new store worked in the East prior to Hurricane Katrina and are finally returning to work in their community, nearly a decade after their lives were changed forever.

Looking at the crowd gathered to celebrate the reopening a few weeks ago, I was reminded of a simple fact about New Orleanians: Whatever comes their way, they get back up.

We have worked hard to rebuild this store for our customers, and we are proud to once again be a part of this strong, vibrant community.

4 Comments

Business

Offering Customers More at the Door

Of all the aspects that make up a great shopping experience, there’s one that sets the tone right away: The first few steps inside the door.

We’ve been working to welcome customers to an improved Walmart for some time now, and of the countless details we’ve taken a look at, a key piece has been better utilizing an important role – our greeters. Last year, we launched a pilot program that in many stores, moved our greeters from action alley back to the front door, and in others, introduced a brand-new position: customer host, an associate who greets customers, but also checks receipts where appropriate, assists with returns and helps keep entrances clean and safe.

The reaction was positive. In stores with the new customer host role, customers said they liked easily spotting someone to go to for help and advice. Part of this is because our customer host stands out by wearing a yellow vest.

This pilot program was successful so we’ll begin rolling out these changes to all of our U.S. stores by mid-summer.

We know a one-size-fits-all-approach to our door coverage won’t work for our more than 5,000 stores. To help ensure each store has the coverage it needs, we’re using data on safety, security and shrink risks to guide us on  how best to staff our entrances. Where our data tells us the risk is higher, we’ll add the new customer host. We expect to fill about 9,000 of these new hourly positions that are specially trained to both welcome customers as soon as they walk in and also help deter would-be shoplifters.

Greeters are a big part of our company and culture, and that’s why in the majority of our U.S. stores we will continue to rely on them to be the helpful first face customers see. In stores where we alternatively have customer hosts, we’re giving our current greeters the ability to apply for these new roles, other positions at their store or Walmart locations nearby. During the pilot phase, more than 80% of the affected associates were able to find new positions – including many promotions. For those who didn’t choose to stay, we offered severance pay, which we continue to offer as we move this program nationwide.

Providing customers with an excellent first impression is part of Walmart’s broader strategy to ensure simpler, more convenient shopping.  Focusing more on our greeters is one of a whole host of details we’re looking at – it just happens to be a very visible one.

While the number of stores in the pilot phase of this program was too small for us to glean exhaustive data, we’re confident that taking it to a larger group of stores will continue to support the progress we’re making in customer experience.

And knowing that our customers are truly feeling the difference? That’s the kind of first impression we’re working hard to turn into a lasting one.

Be the first to comment on this article

Community

Three Ways to Join the Fight Against Hunger

Hunger isn’t always a problem we can easily see.

But for 1 in 7 Americans, it’s a struggle every day, according to the USDA.

Kendra, a middle school teacher, has noticed hunger among students in her own classroom. That’s one reason she helps organize occasional trips to a local food bank for them all to volunteer for a day.

The other reason, she says, is that they’re inspired to change the world – and she wants to show them that they can make a difference by starting in their own communities.

“That feeling of giving back and feeling good, it’s really powerful to them,” Kendra says in this video. “You see that they want that feeling again, and that’s really the coolest part.”

Today through April 25, Walmart is offering a simple way for anyone to make that same difference. Through “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.,” you can help families in need by doing any of the following:

Online Act of Support:  Share the hashtag #FightHunger on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and Walmart will donate 90 cents, enough to help secure 10 meals through Feeding America member food banks, up to $1.5 million. You can also visit Walmart.com/FightHunger to show your support through a click.

Purchase Participating Products: For every purchase of specially marked products both in-store and online, the manufacturer will donate enough to help you secure one meal on behalf of Feeding America member food banks.

Donate at the Register: You can make a donation to Feeding America member food banks at the checkout in any Walmart store.

As a grocer serving millions of customers in America each week, Walmart has been working to positively impact the issue of hunger in the U.S. for many years. By collaborating with our customers and five of the nation’s leading food companies – Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, Kellogg Company, the Kraft Heinz Company and PepsiCo – we hope to generate the equivalent of 75 million meals, enough to make a real difference for families who are struggling with hunger.

To participate or learn more, visit Walmart.com/FightHunger.

5 Comments

Opportunity

The Family Tree That Flourished at Walmart

When I applied for a part-time job at Walmart 22 years ago, it was to earn a little extra money for the holidays. It really was as simple as that – or so I thought.

I quickly came to love the people I was surrounded by. Walmart was new to California at the time, so I didn't know a lot about the company. But what I did know was that the people I worked with at my store in Anaheim made it fun. They were like family and that mattered to me.

What began as an opportunity to earn a few extra bucks during the holidays immediately became a full-time job. As I continued to grow my career, my kids grew up with Walmart. They would always stop by after school, so everyone got to know them. The store manager even nicknamed my son, Anthony, the “Tuna Helper,” because he once vowed to help us sell every box of Tuna Helper on the shelves.

Fast-forward more than two decades, and Anthony has gone from Tuna Helper to holding the keys of a supercenter in Irvine. My heart swelled late last year, when Anthony was named manager of his very own store, because he has lived and breathed Walmart since he was a kid. He began as a photo lab associate while attending college and – after a few years away from the company – returned to serve as department manager, assistant manager, co-manager and more at a variety of stores.

But Anthony’s success is just the beginning of our family’s story.

When my brother-in-law lost his job of 30 years, he became a hardware department manager at a supercenter in La Habra. My daughter works as a pharmacy tech in La Habra, and my youngest, Aerin, could very well follow in our footsteps. Even I have to admit that all this could seem a bit made up, but the story that takes the cake is the fact Walmart set the stage for Anthony to meet his future wife and start a family of his own.

I’ll never forget the day Anthony – then a photo lab associate – told me he had a crush on a girl working in the shoe department. So, after talking with Heather’s mom, who also worked at the store, I decided to take a spin by to meet her. We struck up a conversation – and I may or may not have urged her to check out the young man in the photo lab. Several years later, Anthony and Heather are happily married Walmart associates, with two beautiful children.

It really doesn't get any better than that. From day one, Walmart has provided my family and I with much more than jobs. It’s where we’ve found opportunities to grow individually and together. It’s where we continue to make memories we wouldn't trade for anything.

Be the first to comment on this article

Health & Wellness

Walmart Associate Conquers North Pole Marathon

Some people will go a long way to support charity. For Dorn Wenninger, vice president of global food sourcing for Walmart U.S., not even the North Pole is too far.

Dorn was one of 56 runners from 21 countries who participated in the 14th annual North Pole Marathon on April 9. Dubbed the “World’s Coolest Marathon,” the 26.2-mile race not only challenges endurance athletes with its snow-covered, icy terrain and bone-chilling weather, it also supports a variety of worthy causes with hundreds of thousands of dollars raised each year.

Crossing the finish line after five hours and 17 minutes, Dorn captured first place and secured his spot in an exclusive group of 428 people worldwide who have completed the marathon since 2002.

This year’s competitors ran to raise money for a variety of causes worldwide. Dorn, who has been with Walmart almost six years, serves on the boards of two nonprofit organizations: Cobblestone Farm in Northwest Arkansas and Amigos de las Americas. He will continue to raise money for Cobblestone Farm, which produces organic produce that is then donated to local food banks.

“I’m passionate about healthy eating, farming and produce,” he said.

His passion also extends to running. In January, he participated in a marathon in Trinidad and Tobago, where the temperature was 130 degrees warmer than the lowest temperature he experienced while at the North Pole.

Knowing that running on snow and ice would be different, he trained for the North Pole event on dirt and gravel trails. But the terrain wasn’t his only concern. With temperatures between -25 and -43 degrees Fahrenheit, his respiration froze and built up on his face mask. He used three different masks throughout the five-hour run and ended up with early signs of frost bite on his nose.

His North Pole adventure was supposed to last one and half days, but a crack in the runway prevented Dorn from flying out for three days. Despite the delay, he said the trip was an amazing experience.

Running is a great way to deal with stress, he said – even on 6 feet of ice floating on 14,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. It also can have a positive impact on other areas of life, from personal to business.

“Achieving the seemingly impossible helps demonstrate that almost anything is possible, even when others don’t believe it is,” he said. “Determination, focus and persistence go a long way in achieving goals.”

Dorn never imagined he’d win the North Pole race, but with that victory in hand, he now has his eye on a few other challenges just as difficult – or more so.

“It's incredible what people are capable of when they put their mind to it,” he said. “The thought of running a marathon at the North Pole sounds so extreme that it's virtually unbelievable. I welcomed the challenge of proving, to myself, that it is possible.”

Photos courtesy of North Pole Marathon.

Be the first to comment on this article