Why Walmart Matters for Washington, D.C.

By Eric Quist
March 30, 2015
Exterior Photo of the H Street Walmart in Washington, D.C.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things: In my 20 years with Walmart, I’ve seen this happen many times, and in many ways. But one of the most powerful examples happened this past year alone, as I transferred to manage and open one of two new stores in Washington, D.C.

Historically, there haven’t been many shopping options on H Street – the area where my supercenter opened in December 2013. In the past, if you lived here and didn’t own a car, you’d need to pay to take a bus to buy anything other than groceries. Similarly, covering those transportation costs just to get to work every day could take a bite out of anyone’s paycheck.

Fast-forward to today, and I work at one of two supercenters that have added not only affordable one-stop shopping to the community, but also closer local jobs for 700 hardworking associates.

One of those associates, Ernest, had been out of work for two years prior to our store’s opening and was applying everywhere he could. Because of his age – early 60s – he said that many businesses gave his application a quick glance and then passed on hiring him. But we saw him as qualified, outgoing, energetic and consistent, and so we asked him to join our team – and then promoted him to a leadership role shortly afterward.

This is how I’ve personally seen our store make a difference, but I’m also quite proud of a study that was released earlier this month that shows that difference is very real.

Take a look at these facts:

  • We are truly saving customers money. A family of four can now save approximately $1,300 per year, 18% of the average Washington, D.C., household’s annual grocery store bill.
  • There is more access to better-for-you food. Both new stores in the community were built within a food desert, an area the U.S. Department of Agriculture designates where healthy food options make up less than 10% of local retail. We sell a lot of groceries at my store – in fact, groceries make up 41% of Walmart’s total sales.
  • We’ve added jobs not just inside, but outside our stores. In addition to the 700 associates employed between both store locations, another 630 construction jobs were added. A third store location, Fort Totten, is still being completed. What’s more, a handful of other businesses have opened near our store, creating even more ways for people to work.
  • Equally as important: We continue to give back to the community in other ways. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have given $14 million to more than 200 nonprofits in the Washington, D.C. area – which, in turn, has supported 185 jobs, $16.5 million in total compensation and $197,000 in tax revenue.

Customers tell me all the time that they’re so glad we’re here. I feel the same way, and it’s rewarding to know that the positive benefits aren’t just my own experience – they are reality.