Community

Hurricane Tracker: What’s Happened and What’s Next

We’re collecting updates from our volunteers and associates helping to address the needs of those affected by recent hurricane activity. Stay tuned to this article and @WalmartNewsroom for the latest info.

We Want to Make Sure We’re Here for Our Community
Updated 3:15 p.m. CDT – Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017

Now that most curfews have been lifted and people are starting to get around, recovery mode is well underway following Hurricane Irma. For residents of the impacted areas, returning home, repairing storm damage and getting life back to normal are priorities. The same is true for our associates and stores. A sure sign of normalcy returning to communities across Florida and the Southeast is a reopened Walmart or Sam’s Club. Following the hurricane, residents will need food, water and all types of supplies as they return home. Getting these facilities up and running as quickly as possible is something our associates take seriously, and they’re proud to be a part of getting impacted communities back on their feet.


Store manager Mike and the team at #4161 in Miami, FL have been working tirelessly and are now ready to reopen and serve the community hit by #HurricaneIrma. Fantastic job team, we are #BetterTogether.

Posted by Doug McMillon on Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Not far from Miami International Airport, the same sense of pride and desire to make a difference is obvious at store 4161. There, Store Manager Mike Williams and his team worked with purpose to have the store ready for customers. For the team, being there for customers isn’t just a job, it’s an obligation they take seriously.

While it will be quite some time before life is truly back to normal in some of the hardest hit areas, being open and there to help is welcome news for both our associates and our customers.

Monday Morning Briefing from Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center
Updated 5:20 p.m. CDT – Monday, Sept. 11, 2017

Now that Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, our Emergency Operations Center is tracking rainfall as it heads into Georgia while continuing to offer 24-hour support to our associates in the field. Take a look at this morning’s briefing to hear the teams talk about challenges in Florida, another $10 million in relief and the continued focus on associate safety.

#BetterTogether -- Hurricane Relief Efforts Continue
Updated 11:30 a.m. CDT - Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017

Over the past several weeks, we have seen unimaginable damage caused by both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, but we have also seen stories of hope and people coming together to recover and rebuild.

It is times like these where we step up to help our associates, customers and communities. We are proud of the work that all of our associates have done to give back in so many different ways. Here are some of the ways we have worked together to make a difference.

Preparing for Recovery: A Look Inside our Emergency Operations Center
Updated 3:30 p.m. CDT – Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017

Teams at our Emergency Operations Center at Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Arkansas, have been working 24/7 on hurricane relief since Aug. 22. Here’s a look inside the EOC from Friday, Sept. 8, as the team prepares for Hurricane Irma.

Taking Care of Each Other While Taking Care of Our Communities
Updated 6:22 p.m. CDT – Friday, Sept. 8, 2017

Making sure family and friends are safe and cared for following a natural disaster is the first order of business for anyone impacted. It’s no different at Walmart and Sam’s Club, where our first priority is making sure our associates are safe and have what they and their families need.

When Harvey struck Texas, dedicated teams in our Emergency Operations Center were hard at work with our human resources teams on the ground. Together, they helped make sure our associates were safe and accounted for, while also helping them get aid and supplies. Also, to assist with immediate needs, impacted associates have early access to wages they’ve already earned, as well as other programs such as disaster support pay and disaster displacement assistance.

As Texas continues to recover, a new threat, Hurricane Irma, is expected to make landfall in Florida this weekend. So far, Irma has caused massive damage in the Caribbean. As it moves closer to the U.S., we’re working to help ensure our associates are out of harm’s way while making preparations to be there for the customers we serve once it’s safe to do so. With mandatory evacuations underway across Florida, we have the same support systems we used in Texas in place to help our people in evacuation zones get to a place of safety.

Making a difference in the communities we serve is what we do, and our associates are the real difference makers. At Walmart and Sam’s Club, we’re here for our associates when they need us most so they can be there for our customers – because we’re better together. After all, that’s what it means to be part of a community.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Making Your Favorite Jeans Better for the Planet

Almost everyone has a favorite pair of blue jeans. The ones that fit like a glove, your go-to pair for any occasion.

As we know them today, jeans were the invention of Jacob Davis and his friend, Levi Strauss, who patented the pants in 1873. Since then, jeans have become a huge part of American culture, from cowboys to rebels and rock stars, to hipsters and heads of state. They are a fashion statement and a wardrobe staple.

Blue jeans were once America’s most popular export. They are no longer widely manufactured nor dyed in the U.S. and, while blue jean manufacturing has evolved over the years, the indigo dyeing process has not. Most countries still use the same methods established in the early 1920s.

So, why does this matter? While indigo is a natural, non-toxic dye, the chemicals used to make the color stick to cotton fibers are quite harsh, and the process requires thousands of gallons of water to rinse the chemicals out later.

Recently, the Walmart Foundation, through the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, supported a project at Texas Tech University where researchers are using a foam indigo dyeing technique on cotton fibers. According to Texas Tech, this method, which uses a frothy foam dye designed to penetrate the entire fiber, eliminates the use of harsh chemicals and reduces water and energy usage by nearly 90%. This innovation could be a game changer for denim manufacturers by lowering costs and reducing environmental impacts.

This project’s potential is just now unfolding. And it’s part of a broader effort to grow local economies, and ultimately, create more jobs in communities across the country.

Watch the innovative foam indigo dyeing process in action and hear from the people at Texas Tech University who helped create it.

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Community

‘The Love in the Air is Thicker Than the Smoke’

When Christel Antone went to sleep on Oct. 10, she was worried about her sick grandchild. It wasn’t the only thing on her mind.

For the last two days, she and her neighbors had been threatened by the fires raging throughout Sonoma County, California. A mass evacuation was underway.

At 1 a.m., Christel – a Walmart store co-manager in Rohnert Park, California – woke up to a crying baby and the unmistakable stench of smoke. Something was on fire. Around her house, everything seemed normal. She looked out the windows of her Windsor, California home: To the west, she saw her local Walmart; to the east, mountains. No fire yet – only smoke.

But the fire was coming.

“At that moment, I felt nothing but fear,” Christel said. “Others in the area were being evacuated. So I started getting ready to leave.”

Within two hours, Christel and her husband, two children and grandchild were packed tight into their cars. At 3 a.m., they were part of a mass evacuation – one of thousands of families headed south. They were on the way to her parents’ home in Rohnert Park, normally a 15-minute drive. It took them three hours to reach safety.

Meanwhile, assistant manager Casey Wolven-Scott stood looking at a sea of cars in the Rohnert Park Walmart parking lot. Hundreds of evacuees had only what was on their backs when the time came to leave: kids without shoes, their parents in pajamas. Every one of them tired, afraid and not sure if they would have a home to come back to.

Casey stepped further outside. The highway, which she could see from the store, was flooded with headlights. “Fire truck after fire truck after fire truck was speeding north, up the highway,” Casey said. “Heading south, it was bumper to bumper traffic.”

She decided she had to help her neighbors. “I was one of two people who could run a register,” Casey said. But she had to open the store so people could get basics and use the restroom. Her shift, which had started at 8 p.m. the night before, didn’t end until lunchtime the next day. She saw to it that her store was there for people at this desperate time of need.

A few miles north of the store, at Elsie Allen High School, Christel spent the next day volunteering for those looking for shelter. “We kept hearing alerts and needs for first responders, so we gathered everything we could from my parents’ house, clothes and food, and took it to the high school,” Christel said.

Despite being driven away from her own home, Christel knew she had to help. “At that point you lose all the selfishness and what you’re going through to help others,” she said.

Step by step, Casey and Christel helped with recovery efforts. Christel and her family were able to return to their home within a week. Associates at stores throughout Sonoma County have continued to serve their communities through the fires, in addition to preparing for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas.

“Since then, we’ve been trying to keep in stock what our customers need — housewares, socks, pillows, sleeping bags – these things keep coming in and coming off the shelf right away,” Casey said.

Christel and Casey were two of hundreds of associates who helped pull off a recent episode of The TODAY Show’s “Getting to the Heart of Christmas” series. In recent years, Walmart has had the opportunity to work with NBC to help deliver Christmas for families in need, particularly like the 10 families affected the Sonoma County wild fires earlier this year.

The event brought hundreds of associates, themselves affected by the fire, together to serve their community.

“Everyone here knows someone affected by fire,” Christel said. “Being able to work for a company that’s making a difference in the community, and being part of it personally, is rewarding.”

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Heritage

The Valentine Love Story Behind the Walmart Brand

Before a fledgling family-run retail chain flourished into what it is today, there was a simple and sweet love story.

On Valentine’s Day in 1943, after serving a year of active duty in the Army, Sam Walton married his wife, Helen, in her hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma.

In his book, “Sam Walton: Made in America,” Sam says on an April night in a bowling alley in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he noticed Helen Robson – his future bride – who just happened to be on a date with another fellow.

After she took her turn and rolled her ball down the alley, she saw Sam with his leg up over the armrest of an old chair, with a smile on his face. She recalls Sam’s greeting as being rather “corny.”

Helen said Sam asked if he had met her somewhere before. It turns out Sam had dated a girl Helen knew in college. Instead of asking for Helen’s number, Sam initially asked Helen for the other young woman’s number. However, according to Helen, soon after that encounter, Helen and Sam started dating.

Both Helen and Sam have said they instantly fell in love with each other. Sam said Helen was “pretty and smart, and educated, ambitious and opinionated and strong-willed – with ideas and plans of her own.” After dating for a little while, by the time Sam was called up by the Army for active duty, he said two things were very clear to him: He knew who he wanted to marry Helen, and knew he wanted to go into retail.

From there, the rest of their story went down in the retail history books. “I always told my mother and dad that I was going to marry someone who had that special energy and drive, that desire to be a success,” Helen said. “I certainly found what I was looking for, but now I laugh sometimes and say maybe I overshot a little.”

To commemorate their anniversary, The Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, honors their love every Valentine’s Day with a special flower display.

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Innovation

Your Shopping Trip Just Got Easier with This New Store Assistant

Smartphones have become a vital part of our lives, helping to make virtually everything faster and more convenient. No matter what we’re doing these days, relying on our favorite apps is almost second nature.

That’s why we’ve been applying this kind of thinking to shopping, by building tools and features within the Walmart app to save you time on everything from prescription pickups to merchandise returns. But we also know that we can do even more. This week, we’re releasing a handful of new and improved features to the Walmart app that not only help you get in and out of the store quickly, but also help you before you ever leave the house.

All of these new features come together under something else that’s new: a totally re-imagined experience for in-store shopping called Store Assistant. Next time you visit your local store and open the app, you’ll notice that the Walmart app transforms into Store Assistant. All of the tools you need to make shopping fast and easy, such as Walmart Pay, will be right at your fingertips. We’ve also made the product search bar and the scanner easier to find, so you can quickly read reviews, find items in store and double-check prices.

Pretty neat, right? Now, let’s dive into the other new features that are part of Store Assistant:

  1. Smarter, Better Lists: Eighty percent of Walmart customers make a list before coming to the store, so we’ve made list-building within the app more convenient for you – like the ability to enter a custom term like “milk” (in other words, no need to pick an exact item match) and check item stock at your local store. The total cart – plus tax – will now be calculated as you make your list, allowing you to see the cost of your basket before even stepping foot inside the store. Store Assistant makes your list easily accessible, so you can see what aisle the items are located in, as well as cross off and add items as you go.
  2. Improved Store Navigation with Store Maps: We’re creating a map unique to each and every one of our stores – and with over 4,700 of them, this is going to be a real game-changer. These maps will help you find where an item is located, down to the aisle and shelf area. Store Maps is already available for a handful of stores, and we’re rolling it out to the rest of our stores just as fast as we can.
  3. Even More Store Information: You can now easily check whether a store has a department like a Photo Center or Auto Care Center and see department hours and phone numbers. We’ve also taken this a step further by adding other valuable information – such as checking for things like Rug Doctor availability – to make your store shopping even easier.

Of course, these are just the updates we’re launching this week; there’s much more to come. Imagine dropping pins on a store map tied to the location of items on your list, enabling you to plan your route through our stores, or the ability to book services like an oil change in advance. Imagine even smarter lists … maybe so smart that you’ll hardly have to make them!

We’re building a shopping tool unlike any other in retail – and one that makes virtually every element of the store shopping experience faster and more convenient for you. We’re excited about the Walmart app updates we’re launching this week, but we’re even more excited about what’s to come. With the Walmart app, shopping our stores is seamless, easy – and pretty darn cool.

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