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.



2 Dreams, 2 Degrees, and 1 Unconventional Path

Like most moms, Lisa Moore has always bent over backward to put her son Joseph “Joey” Moore in a position to make his dreams come true. But there was one such dream that weighed especially heavy on her.

“I’ll never forget the day Joey came to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,’” Lisa said. “He was only 11 years old when he told me, but his mind was made up. I wanted to help make it happen but, as a single mother, I honestly didn't know where the money was going to come from.”

When Joey neared the end of high school, Lisa’s manager at the Walmart store in Mooresville, N.C. where she worked turned her onto the Associate and Dependent Scholarship Programs offered by the Walmart Foundation. Not only could associates like Lisa apply for scholarship assistance, but so could their high school senior dependents.

That was 2007.  Joey applied for and received a scholarship, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And he’s used his chemistry degree to springboard into a successful career with Henkel Corporation.

But that isn't where the story ends with the Moore family.

“It wasn’t long before Joey started telling me I could do the same thing – that it's never too late to go to college,” said Lisa, 52. “A light came on inside me.”

Already a pastor at Scott’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Statesville, N.C., Lisa recently decided to apply to the Associate Scholarship Program to help finance her enrollment at Hood Theological Seminary School. She, like her son, was awarded a scholarship and is on track to graduate in 2018 with her Masters of Divinity degree. At that point, she plans to focus her efforts full time on the church, pursuing her dream of becoming an elder and possibly even a chaplain.

And she has quite the cheering section behind her.

“There are so many people lifting me up and cheering me on,” Lisa said. That’s why I’ve been with Walmart for 16 years. My job at Walmart has helped put a roof over my head and raise my son, and now it has [helped to support] both of our college educations.

“When I enrolled in seminary, Walmart allowed me to cut back some of my hours to concentrate on school,” she said. “Walmart has always been flexible with my schedule, no matter what was happening in my life and I’m so thankful for that. I’m the biggest cheerleader for this company, not just because of the scholarship program, but because of how it has looked out for me and my family.”

For more than three decades, the Walmart Foundation has made resources available to help U.S. associates and their high school senior dependents fulfill their educational goals through scholarships. More information is available here. 



How a Veteran-Owned Business Reached New Heights

When faced with any uphill battle, Andrew Kratz is ready for the climb. A husband, father of five children and former Force Recon Marine, Andrew has a lifelong passion for adventure and adrenaline.

In 2007, Andrew joined forces with fellow marine Luis Jauregui to invest this passion into Triangle Rock Club, an indoor rock climbing center in Morrisville, North Carolina. In a nation where only 1 of every 5 small businesses survives beyond three years, Andrew’s military background gave him the confidence to build TRC into one of North Carolina’s most respected local businesses.

Today TRC has expanded to three club locations with 47,000 square feet of climbing walls. Thousands of members belay with confidence thanks to a dedicated team of coaches and staff. This summer, TRC received several accolades from North Carolina media, the SBA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which named TRC as the 2015 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year.

Helping Andrew get there was Joel Graybeal, a banker and recreational climber who offered occasional financial advice from the ropes. In 2012, he became a managing partner of TRC, organizing finances and marketing activity. Where Andrew had drive, perseverance and vision, he admits that Joel brought the financial piece, the business and professionalism of running a corporation.

"Andrew taught me that we are all capable of achieving more. When you’re completely exhausted, you’ve still got at least 60% capacity in your tank," Joel said. “There is no time for complacency in rock climbing nor business. Every day we do something that moves the business forward: Improve a process, train a person. When you aggregate one step after another, you cover a lot of ground and rise to the top.”

Today these two keep climbing, but haven’t reached their peak. Andrew and Joel focus on enhancing the value of TRC membership in a way that is community-based – creating an athletic, fun climbing experience that relies on teamwork.

Andrew’s tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  1. Keep looking up: “Focus your fear upwards. You only have so many hours and so much energy, so if you’re focusing your energy on failure rather than succeeding, you cannot succeed. As a marine, the quintessential rule is there is no line of retreat. Our goal and only option is success.”
  2. Get comfortable with the unknown: “Learning leadership skills gave me the confidence to step into uncharted waters to start a business. If you’re comfortable with the fact that you’re in over your head – in foreign terrain able to operate in uncharted waters – you can run a business.”
  3. Build a great team: “The military community gave me two key skill sets: leadership and first appearance. When hiring for teammates at TRC, I look to a person’s confidence and intangible skills and lean on them. Find the right people that reflect your moral fiber and fulfill your weaknesses with their strengths.”

The Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club, celebrates the success of small business and its role in economic growth. You can nominate a veteran-owned small business – or any qualifying business owner – for this year’s award through Jan. 8, 2016. Enter here.

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‘Thank You Very Much, I Don’t Need Your Help Anymore’

The early ’80s were really tough for my family. I had two babies and no income. But after I got a job, things started changing for the better.

Back in 1984, I knew I wanted to work for my local Walmart in Pearsall, Texas, but I was pregnant with my second child at the time. I figured after having my baby, I would apply for a job. The only downfall was everyone kept telling me, “You need a GED to get into Walmart.” I didn’t have one, so I held back.

Later, in 1986, I found out that you don’t need a GED to apply. As a matter of fact, the company will help you get a GED. I took a chance and spoke with the store manager. After filling out an application and taking an assessment, I headed to my mom’s house to let her know I used her phone number as my contact.

I will never forget, it was a Wednesday. As I pulled up at my mom’s house, she came outside with a big grin and said, “Walmart just called. They want you there Saturday at 1 o’clock.”

From then on, my life changed every day – it was getting easier. One of the best feelings in the world was being able to write a letter to the food stamp office saying, “Thank you very much, but I don’t need your help anymore.” I could make it by myself. So when outside groups perform media stunts and attempt to speak for me and my fellow associates who work hard every day to build better lives, I find it incredibly offensive.

My first job was as a cashier, and by putting in my part, I’ve worked my way up to assistant manager. I was promoted to customer service manager after just three months on the job at the most. From there, I became a floater to learn more about the store and then moved on to department manager, first over stationery and later to men’s, boys’, girls’ and infants’ apparel. After five years in that position, I became a support manager – a job I enjoyed for the longest time before finally accepting the offer to be an assistant manager.

There have been a lot of obstacles along the way, and a third child, but thanks to my determination and a good company, I didn’t quit.

One of my sons, Mario, is following in my footsteps. He started as a pharmacy cashier at age 16 and moved up from there. Now, nearly 15 years later, he’s an assistant manager, too.

When people ask me about Walmart, I use my life as an example. I didn’t graduate, but you know what, this company believed in me. And after nearly 30 years, I don’t give back any less than I did when I started.

The sky’s the limit, but I believe it’s up to you to want it.

Editor’s Note: This post is an update to this video, where Noemi first shared her story with us.

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A Passion for Taking Grocery Shopping Off Your Plate

When you’re in the business of packing and carrying groceries, those bags tend to get heavier during the holidays.

As e-commerce market coach for Walmart’s online grocery pickup service in Northwest Arkansas, I’m here to tell you that your muscles know it when they’ve been carrying around 14-pound turkeys all day.

But it's not all about weight. With everything from elaborate Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts to New Year’s Eve spreads ramping up, customers rely on my team to come through. It’s about picking produce that’s ripened to perfection. Selecting the right pecans for mom’s very own homemade pie.

As joyous as the holidays can be, they tend to cause some people a bit of stress – and Walmart’s grocery pickup service is one way we’re working to make things a little easier. For many, being able to place their order online and have us bring it out to their car is a blessing. It's one less thing they have to worry about.

I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to help Walmart pilot our online grocery pickup service. It really was a new concept for Walmart in the U.S. And what I’ve enjoyed most has been the conversation with customers while we're loading groceries into their vehicles.

One customer – a mother of four – comes to mind immediately. That family has gotten to know one of our delivery associates so well that, as the mother pulls in, the kids pop their heads out the sunroof and call for him by name. They look forward to seeing him and talk up a storm every time. In the process, we’re able to save that mother a few valuable hours each week in grocery shopping.

For one gentleman, this service has helped him achieve a sense of independence. He rides in his wheelchair to the pickup location down the street from his home a few times a week for his orders. It’s the highlight of his day because it’s something he can do on his own, without assistance from others. And his smile tells the story.

So I was thrilled when, earlier this year, the program was expanded to include select Walmart stores in Charlotte and Fayetteville, N.C.; Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah; Nashville; Tucson, Ariz.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Atlanta. (It’s also available in several other markets – you can find out if your area is included by visiting It's a fast, easy service with pickup that’s always free, and with no markups or subscriptions. But for me, it's so much more.

Helping bring this next phase of Walmart to life has been the best one and a half years of my life. It really has. Years ago, as an assistant manager with Sam’s Club, I helped develop a similar program, but for members who were small business owners. So the job I have now is right up my alley. I love the collaboration, the testing, the innovation that goes into creating a new facet of the business – especially when it’s all about making people’s lives easier.

I’m a country girl who grew up in southeast Missouri. I had no idea I’d be part of something like this, but Walmart continues to trust and open new doors for me. So I continue to do everything I can to make it the best possible experience for our customers. And, right now, that means taking a little weight off their shoulders during the holidays.

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