Just shy of 198,000. That’s how many square feet the Walmart store I manage in Sanford, Maine covers. But, at this location, I – and the several residents who frequent it at the crack of dawn during the late fall and winter months with gym shoes on – tend to calculate things differently.
Walmart prides itself on being more than a store that offers customers everyday low prices on goods and services. We seek out opportunities to connect with the community on a larger level. One such opportunity here in Sanford has been to open our facility to those looking for a safe environment to get their morning walk in once the temperatures start dropping and the snow starts flying.
There are quite a few folks who know the perimeter of our store – from toys to electronics to dairy and through produce – like the back of their hands. They know a lap is exactly ¼ mile, so four times around equals 1 mile. And, for many, that’s enough to continue working toward a healthier lifestyle.
It all began in early 2014, when Partners for Healthier Communities, a community coalition working to improve the health and well-being of residents in York County, approached us with the idea. We make our store available and promote it with in-store signage. PHC promotes it externally and supplies free pedometers to those who participate.
We offer the option year-round, but during the dead of winter is when it really picks up. We’ll have anywhere from 8 to 20 people doing laps around the store bright and early. When you really step back to think about it, it's a no-brainer. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to contribute something we have – space. There are people who have been walking their entire lives to keep fit. Others are trying to make a positive change or are recovering from surgery. Whatever the case, it’s something we’re going to continue to support.
I love walking in the door in the morning and seeing people doing laps. Once in a while, they even give a tip or two about how to improve our store. That’s a tradeoff I’ll take any day.