Community

More Than a Wreath: The Journey to Honor Our Nation’s Veterans

Dying twice: It happens when a person takes his final breath, and later, the last time his name is spoken.

It’s a philosophy that illustrates the importance of not just going through the motions of commemorating our fallen soldiers, but instead taking time to truly honor and remember them.

It is for this reason that Wreaths Across America, an organization that works to honor those who served and teach future generations about their sacrifices, encourages every volunteer who places a wreath on a veteran’s grave to say that veteran’s name aloud and take a moment to thank them for their service to our country.

As part of this effort on December 17, more than 800,000 volunteers helped with the transportation and placing of wreaths on veterans’ graves nationwide. Walmart has contributed for many years, and this year donated the services of 16 tractor-trailers and associate truck drivers to transport more than 80,000 wreaths across the country to national cemeteries. The company also provided $150,000 to help purchase 40,000 wreaths for placement at national cemeteries and memorial sites across the U.S., including Arlington National Cemetery.

Supporting Wreaths Across America is just one way we’re working to honor veterans and military families. Watch as our drivers explain why they’re proud to help carry out this tradition.

Learn more about Wreaths across America at WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.

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Life

Lights! Camera! Receipt! Walmart Takes on the Oscars

This Sunday, we’re kicking off a three-year partnership with the Academy Awards by doing something we’ve never done before.

We’re bringing audiences three original films by four award-winning directors, each based on a true story – not from a book or a play, but from a Walmart receipt.

Walmart has always been known for saving our customers money, but that’s not all we’re about. We also want to be a part of the ways the people who shop with us live better. One of the ways we can do this is by being a part of the big cultural moments that are important to our customers and giving them something fun to enjoy.

It all started with a challenge to four directors who are known for telling very different kinds of stories: Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Neighbors), Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw, The Magnificent Seven), and Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner). We sent them each a Walmart receipt with the same six items and asked, could they create with a short film based on just these items?

Bananas, paper towels, batteries, a scooter, wrapping paper, and a video baby monitor – an everyday combination, but one that can lead to three different and extraordinary places depending on what you take from it. After seeing what the directors came up with, the idea really does come to life. Each is unique, but they’re tied together because they all start from the same place.

The three short films will air this Sunday during the Academy Awards. We hope people will love them as much as we did, so we’re also going to post them to our YouTube account after the night is over.

The Academy Awards is a night that celebrates storytelling, and this challenge is an unexpected way for Walmart to pay tribute to that – and to join in on the fun!

Editor’s Note: Through this sponsorship, we’re also supporting the art of film in another way: a donation to The Academy Grants Program for FilmCraft. FilmCraft is a dynamic educational program that identifies and empowers future filmmakers from nontraditional backgrounds.

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Community

Conquering Small Business Challenges and Obstacles, Ninja Warrior Style

Since the age of 3, Garrett Takach has been a sports fanatic. According to his mother, Marie, Garrett has not only played, but excelled, in almost every sport imaginable.

It came as no surprise to her, then, when he decided to start a small business combining sports and fitness – ninja warrior style. In January 2015 at age 18, Garrett founded Ninja Park Obstacle Fitness Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Ninja Park is an obstacle training facility where anyone of any age with any kind of fitness goal can come in and participate in a unique fitness style called TAK Fit – a technique that combines obstacles, calisthenics, and strength training. Ninja Park offers training, workshops, kid’s camps, team building events, mobile obstacles, a rock climbing wall and a weight training area.

Coming from a big family, Garrett learned first-hand the importance of a strong support system. So to make his dream a reality, he not only wanted a trusted group of individuals around him – he also knew he needed expert advice. In July 2014, Garrett met with SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Garrett looked to SCORE to provide feedback on his business plan and discuss the possibility of opening an obstacle gym.

While browsing the SCORE website in January 2016, Garrett noticed the open call for applications for the American Small Business Championship, a national competition sponsored by Sam’s Club that celebrates small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the nation. He didn’t think he stood a chance against 400 other small businesses across the U.S., but decided to enter Ninja Park anyway. This turned out to be a great decision.

Ninja Park was named the Grand Champion in the 2016 American Small Business Championship and awarded $25,000.

The mentorship and resources provided by SCORE and Sam’s Club have helped Garrett grow his business. As a result of the championship, Ninja Park has grown from offering two to three classes daily to nearly eight to ten. Garrett has also expanded the facility to incorporate new and improved flooring, mats, rock climbing walls and obstacle courses. A new business manager, four new full-time employees and two interns have been hired, too.

Garrett is excited about what the future holds for Ninja Park and hopes to become a franchise by continuing to leverage the support provided by SCORE and Sam’s Club.

To learn more, apply or nominate a business for The American Small Business Championship, visit the official website here.Entries are accepted through Feb. 13. Champions will be announced in late March and the grand champions will be revealed in September.

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Opportunity

Work That Matters: Looking Back on 2 Years of Investing in People

Way back in 1979, a Walmart meeting kicked off with the theme “Our People Make the Difference.”

Those words stuck around, and today they’re even printed on associates’ name badges.

They’re words with staying power because they don’t simply form a slogan – they mean something real. Two years ago this week, those words took on extra meaning as our CEO Doug McMillon shared that we were making new investments in our people.

What has that commitment meant since then? Here’s a quick look.

Here’s What Happened
February 19, 2015 was a big day. After news broke that the company was taking a new approach to our jobs – specifically raising starting pay for 1.2 million associates across the country, and creating training programs to build skills that can help them be more successful – it went down in the Walmart history books.

200,000 Promotions
The next year, those raises went into effect, marking one of the largest single-day, private-sector pay increases ever – and resulting in new positions for many across the Walmart workforce. Out of the 200,000 associates promoted, more than 11,000 of them were hourly associates getting promoted to salaried manager positions.

Academies Across America
At 70 of our stores across the U.S. today, a Walmart Academy is a real place. It’s a dedicated building where associates can get advanced retail and leadership skills, as well as specifics on how to run individual store departments like produce and meat. The course is designed for hourly supervisors and department managers, who are paid to leave their home stores to soak up training that not only can help them be more successful in their careers, but also better serve their customers.

Graduation Day
As more Academy locations get up and running, each location hosts a real graduation. Associates celebrate in the company of their families, and then return to their stores to put their newfound skills to use.

New Pathways
In addition to Walmart Academies, we also launched another training course – Pathways – for all new entry-level associates. It’s a hands-on, interactive experience that combines computer-based learning with in-store training and results in an associate who’s better prepared to serve our customers and advance in his or her career.

Paid Time Off
Last year, our paid time off program got a refresh as well. In March 2016, we streamlined paid vacation, sick, personal and holiday time into one category for hourly associates in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club stores. Not only does this give associates more control and flexibility – we believe it offers stability that helps better set anyone up to reach his or her true potential.

Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of You
When the news of this renewed commitment to our people began to take off two years ago, it made for an awesome day. It’s even better to look back now and be able to show that we’ve made real progress. But this is only the beginning. Putting our associates on the path to success ultimately makes Walmart a better business, and we’ve already found that investments in training, education and wages for our associates have resulted in higher customer satisfaction.

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Life

#FiveThingsFriday: The Beauty of Convenient Shopping

ICYMI: An investment in jobs sometimes means an investment in ordinary things … like socks. Check out this news, plus a few new ways to shop with convenience.

Sock it to Me

I’ve lived in the Sooner State, the Natural State, and the Windy City, but I’m thinking the Sock Capital of the World might be worth a visit. Last week, we signed a deal with Renfro Corporation as a part of our commitment to buy $250 billion in products that support American jobs. Renfro has been supplying Walmart with socks and hosiery since the 1970s, and this deal is expected to bring more than 400 manufacturing jobs to Fort Payne, Alabama.

Best in Beauty

It’s nice to pick up a surprise find on a routine shopping trip. But it’s even nicer when someone compiles a list of these surprise finds in one place for you. The good folks at Refinery29 have selected 12 of what they’re calling the “coolest and cheapest” beauty finds at Walmart. They’ve got everything from moisturizer to curling irons for your next impulse purchase.

It’s Like a Tiny Walmart … at a Big Walmart

We’re always testing new things at Walmart, from the latest technology in supercenters to completely new kinds of stores. In Crowley, Texas, we’ve opened one of two Walmart convenience stores (the other opened in Rogers, Arkansas). This little guy is about 2,500 square feet and located in the parking lot of the Crowley Walmart store. You can get gas, ICEEs, hot dogs, and most of your typical c-store fare. If you’re in the area, stop by and let us know what you think.

Welcome to the Family, Moosejaw!

The Walmart brand expanded this week with the acquisition of online outdoor retailer Moosejaw. The Michigan-based company has a great online presence plus 10 physical stores. They’re going to be joining our growing e-commerce team and we couldn’t be happier to have them aboard! Plus, it’s fun to say. Moosejaw … moosejaw…

The Science – and Smart Business – of Sustainability

Thinking green isn’t just good for the environment – it’s also good for business. Did you know we save $1 billion a year through improved fleet efficiency (read: ensuring our trucks are saving as much fuel as possible) alone? If you’re curious about how these efforts translate into real change, check out this piece in Environmental Leader.

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