U.S. Manufacturing

A Conversation with SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet

As the 24th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet leads the agency’s efforts to aid, counsel and protect the interests of small businesses. Recently, she spoke at Walmart’s second U.S. Manufacturing Summit, and afterward, she talked with us about Walmart’s commitment as well as her own work to help business owners thrive and strengthen the national economy.

WMT: Before the SBA, you had several roles focused on helping people gain access to opportunity, such as serving on the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission. It seems that you have a passion for this type of work - why?

C-S: As a young person watching television, what I saw shaped my views about many things, including what I wanted to do in the future. At the time I didn’t see a young Hispanic woman on television, so I didn’t know what I could truly be. We have people from all over the world who’ve come to America, so we need to embrace that diversity. [At the SBA] I want to make sure that I’m helping to build an America that’s strong and not leaving anyone behind. That’s how to create social mobility: expanding the middle class.

WMT: Tell us about your role at Walmart’s summit. Why was it important for you to attend and speak?

C-S: I wanted to be here for three reasons. One is getting the word out about our programs that I think are so rich and changing people’s lives across the country. The second is that Walmart is such an incredible player in the small business community. It was a great opportunity to be able to talk to folks here, one to thank them for the support that they’ve provided us in our V-WISE program for veteran women business owners, and also to explore ways we can work more closely together in the future. The third reason is that I wanted to hear firsthand from small businesses about what they think their challenges are, so I can ensure that the SBA continues to evolve and respond through smart, bold and accessible initiatives.


WMT: On that note, you’re leading a focus group today with a few businesses attending the summit. What’s your goal for that conversation?

C-S: I’ll give you a story. During the Los Angeles riots in 1992, many corporate and political leaders came together with the goal of building grocery stores and other businesses to help get the economy going again. I thought that made a lot of sense. But because I also think it’s important to call on the customer to see what they need, I went out into the community to ask them. They said, all of those things are fine, but what we need before any of that is a laundromat. We need to be able to wash our clothes so we can feel good about ourselves, go in and interview for jobs, and just exist every day. It’s very important to stay closely connected to our customers to gain these sincere insights and experiences. That way we can be a more responsive and effective SBA.

WMT: That makes a lot of sense. A lot of the work behind Walmart’s U.S. manufacturing initiative is about connecting with suppliers and manufacturers – coming together one-on-one to explore areas of cooperation.  As our company continues along this path, we’re interested in your perspective on Walmart’s commitment and its potential impact on the American economy.

C-S: Clearly, as the largest corporation in the world, this commitment plays a critical role in spurring economic activity. Manufacturing jobs are quality jobs. They have a great multiplier effect, and the fact that you’re having this conference here to spur more growth and connection with that sector – I think will take us a long way.

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Life

Your Gifting Questions, Answered: Win the Holidays with This Handy Guide

Some people are easy to buy gifts for: yourself, for example, or your BFF. Others are a bit more … challenging. Fear not, Dear Reader, our fictional in-house advice columnist, Liza, is here to show you how to use the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide to satisfy the most perplexing recipients on your list, actual or hypothetical.

Q: Dear Liza, I never know what to get my father-in-law for Hannukah. He is the type of person who, if he wants something, just goes and buys it himself. Guys are so hard to buy for! Help! Sincerely, Joy

A: I hear you, Joy. I once bought my Dad a gift card, which I thought was a pretty safe bet, and he said he never shopped at that store and gave it back to me! The nerve! Fortunately, with Walmart’s gift guide, you can easily search “Gifts for Him” and narrow it down using what your father-in-law enjoys. For example, if he is into tech, pick up Google Home. If he always mans the grill at family get-togethers, the Gift Guide has a ton of options, too.

Q: Dear Liza, I’m spending the holidays with my cousin, and he and his wife have a baby. Social contract dictates that I should bring it some sort of gift. What do I get a baby? Diapers or something? Sincerely, Nick

A: While babies do often wear diapers, there is – quite reasonably – not a lot of data on whether or not they like them. We do know that babies enjoy toys they can touch and that have bright colors. Here’s what to do: Go to the Walmart Gift Guide. Click on “Gifts for Babies and Toddlers.” Peruse the options for toys, activities, and pajamas. For example, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is great for children 6 to 12 months. You can have it shipped to you, or pick up in store. The little one will love it, and the parents will be so impressed, they’ll want you to babysit!
P.S. Parents don’t typically like it when you refer to their offspring as “it.”


Q: Dear Liza, We’re hosting Christmas this year, and that means I am in charge of stockings. This adds a new layer to my normal giving plan, especially because everyone in my family – all ages, from grandparents to kids – has a stocking to fill! Can you help? Sincerely, Noelle

A: I got you, girl. In addition to searching our Gift Guide by recipient (Gifts for Her, Gifts for Grandparents), you can also search by theme. One of these themes includes – you guessed it – stocking stuffers! Whether you pick up some makeup brushes for your niece or chocolate covered cherries for your grandpa, you can get everything you need to impress your family on Christmas morning. (Pro tip: If you’re working within a budget, the Gift Guide allows you to search by price as well.)

TL; DR: Whether you shop by recipient (e.g. your grandparents), hobby (the adventurer, the tech lover), or species (we have gifts for pets, too), the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide has your nice list covered this holiday season.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Among the Pumpkins, This Farm Grows Local Communities

Twenty years ago, Frey Farms started adding pumpkins to the local produce they sold at nearby Walmart stores in Wayne County, Illinois. Since then, Sarah Frey and her four brothers have expanded their harvest acres to 11 farms in seven additional states, allowing them to employ more than 500 American workers seasonally.

We’re proud to celebrate two decades of working with the largest grower and shipper of pumpkins in the nation. In just 10 years, Frey Farms sold enough Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins to wrap around the globe seven times!

Not only has their success helped grow the local and state economies where their farms operate, it has allowed us to offer healthier and affordable locally sourced food options at even more locations across the country.

See how this family owned and operated business is supporting American jobs, and why we’re proud to work with them as part of our commitment to source an additional $250 billion in products made, assembled or grown in the U.S.

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Life

#FiveThingsFriday: Talking Turkey

ICYMI: An Oscar winner gives back, a Thanksgiving delivery in New York, recognition for reducing food waste, and the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Act of Kindness on Lane 7

Customer Sydney Gholston went into one of our Kentucky stores to purchase some Thanksgiving turkeys for the nonprofit she works for, but left with an unbelievable story to boot. While she was in line to pay, she struck up a conversation with a friendly gentleman who offered to pay for her order. The man? Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, who was in town filming a movie. It goes to show, you never know who you may run into in our stores!

Giving Back in New York

This week, we worked with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several other companies to feed Thanksgiving dinner to more than 35,000 New Yorkers across the state. Each meal included turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, vegetables, cranberry sauce and potatoes. We were honored to be a part of this effort along with Wegmans, FreshDirect and The Coca-Cola Company.

Feeling Fancy?

One of the many reasons Walmart.com is great is the expanded assortment – the site offers additional items that aren’t available in store. But would you expect to find a Cartier watch or Prada pumps? You can now! These are just a small sampling of the luxury items you can find through our third-party Marketplace sellers. Earlier this year, our Marketplace had Air Yeezy’s for sale. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update my Christmas wish list.

A Food Waste Champion

Food waste is a big issue in the U.S., with an estimated $29 billion thrown away each year. This week, we were excited to see that Walmart was named to the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions – an honor established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize businesses and organizations that have committed to reduce food loss and waste in their operations 50% by 2030. We’ve been doing a number of things to help reduce food waste, including finding a use for fruits and vegetables that might be oddly shaped or have minor blemishes; switching date labels on our Great Value nonperishable products to a “Best if used by” format; and donating extra food to local food banks. Our goal is to reach 0% net waste and donate 4 billion meals by 2020.

Delivering Deals and Turkeys

By now, we’re tucking into leftovers and looking over the great deals we scored from Black Friday shopping. I’m most excited about the 55” plush bear I picked up. Our associates were in stores this week working hard to make sure families across the country had the items they needed to put on a great Thanksgiving feast, and they were ready for you when you came out to shop. This week, we sold 150 million pounds of turkey and ham, and televisions were once again one of the most popular items shopped. The only thing left to do is grab a nap before Cyber Monday kicks off!

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Life

At a Glance: Your Walmart Holiday Shopping Schedule

It’s time to put your holiday shopping game face on. And Walmart is ready to meet you – whether at our physical stores or from the comfort of your sofa via laptop or the Walmart mobile app. We’re offering more amazing deals, on a larger assortment of products, earlier than ever before.

Here’s a quick guide to what we have planned to help you win the holiday season:

Black Friday Jump-Start
Our in-store Black Friday events start at 6 p.m. local time on Thursday, but there’s no need to wait until you’ve gobbled down your Thanksgiving feast to start checking gifts off your holiday lists. The majority of Walmart’s Black Friday deals will be on Walmart.com beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving morning.

We’ve stocked our digital and physical aisles with more than 1.5 million televisions, nearly two million tablets and computers, and three million video games, including 11 televisions for $298-$398. Other deals include drones, mobile phones, fitness wearables, pajamas, toys, connected home devices, home and outdoor favorites, and more.

Up Next: Cyber Week
Having nearly tripled our online product assortment this year from 8 million to more than 23 million items, we’re excited to offer our largest Cyber Week assortment to date. Our annual Cyber Week online specials begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 25.

Customers will find more top brands like Samsung, Google and Nerf from Walmart, and surprising finds like Michael Kors, UGG and Ray Ban from our marketplace sellers. Walmart.com’s smart recommendation engine helps surface the most relevant gift ideas for friends and family on customers’ holiday lists.

Free Shipping and Store Pickup
Walmart will offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more, as well as free pickup at Walmart stores. Last year, approximately 90% of orders placed between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday shipped for free, and we expect that to climb even higher as we create more ways than ever for customers to save money in our digital and physical aisles.

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