How a Commitment to Hiring 100% Local Won Over a Community

Launching a new store is already a tough task, but Store Manager Kim S. had to do something big to prove herself to the skeptical community of Warrenton, Ore., when she opened Store 5861. Here’s how she met her #SparkGoals by hiring locally.

One afternoon, Brian H. stepped outside to pump gas for a woman who’d pulled up to the gas station he worked at. After she gave him a tip, they got to talking about how there wasn't much work in Warrenton, Ore.—a tourist town on the Columbia River—as many jobs are seasonal. The pay for pumping gas wasn’t great, and Brian was living paycheck to paycheck.

 

The woman introduced herself as Kim S. and told him she was going to be the manager of the new Walmart store—Store 5861—that was about to open in town. She wanted to hire talented local people. People like Brian. She gave him her card. He applied for, and got, a job at the store—and it has changed his life. And not just his.

“Getting that job put my life on a new path. I wasn’t going to be stuck pumping gas for the rest of my life. I was actually looking at a career. At a path to grow.”

Walmart Comes to Town

 

Kim had been with Walmart for more than 10 years when she came to Warrenton, and she had even helped open another store. But Warrenton was different.

 

“The community wasn’t so excited about a Walmart,” she says. “They made it a point to communicate that if we’re going to come into their town, we’re going to be a part of their community, 100%. They take care of each other, and they wanted to make sure that we would take care of them as well.”

 

But how could Kim prove that Walmart was truly serious and committed to being part of that community? After meeting with and listening to many locals—like Brian—she found her answer, and she set a big goal: 100% local hires.

 

New Store, New Idea

 

Typically, when a new Walmart opens, the aim is to hire 30% from nearby Walmart stores and 70% from the community. One reason for this is so current associates can teach new ones about Walmart’s culture and processes.

 

So Kim knew what she set out to do would be both a big challenge and a big opportunity. “It was fun and scary at the same time,” she says. “But I made a decision that was right for my store and my business.”

 

Finding a store’s worth of local hires wasn’t easy. But Kim was determined. She visited local restaurants and colleges and joined the chamber of commerce, Rotary Club, and Kiwanis Club. Most important: She really listened to what locals wanted and needed, which led her to amazing new associates like Brian.

 

Heart of the Community

 

Since Kim began hiring, more than 250 members of the local community have joined the team.

 

Although training that many new people was a challenge, it also meant that no one had to unlearn bad habits. “We called ourselves the ‘Store of the Future’ because we taught all of the associates all the new processes,” says Kim.

 

As a result, Store 5861 beat their first year shrink goal of 0.89% with a target of 1.01% for their May 2019 inventory. It also grew at a YOY comp of 20% for Q4 FY 2020 and 11.9% for the year.

 

Beyond that success, the store has truly become a community fixture. Thanks to Kim’s outreach efforts—including donating supplies to local charity events and students— there’s been a change of heart about Walmart that reaches far beyond the borders of Warrenton.

 

It even caught the attention of Betsy Johnson, a state senator. “There were construction jobs; there are sales associate jobs; there are happy shoppers; there are happy vendors that provide product to the store. It’s an attractive facility in a growing area, and we’re thrilled to have Walmart here,” she says. 

 

Although Kim has moved on to manage Store 4137 in Tacoma, Wash., she learned much in Warrenton: “You have to put the community first. Once you develop trust, they will help you to be successful.”

 

Brian, hired as a CSM, recently moved up to front end team lead. “Walmart has made a huge impact,” he says. “Hiring hundreds of people changed the lives of hundreds of people. I’m just one of many. I love what it’s done to my town.”

Goal

100% hourly local hires

Achievement

257 local hires out of 260 hourly associates (98%)

Kim’s Tips for Seeking the Best Hometown Talent

 
  • Act like a tourist (sort of). 
    Visit local restaurants and hot spots weekly. Wear your Walmart vest so people know who you are, and distribute business cards.
  • Be a good listener. 
    Ask the locals what they want and need.
  • Partner with colleges. 
    See if area colleges assist veterans, students, and graduates in job placement.
  • Become a local leader. 
    Join local community or civic groups; then networking takes care of itself.

For more stories, advice, and inspiration, download your copy of the Spring issue of Walmart World here!

 
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