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.”