In a town of 10,000 people in northwest Wyoming, one of the most common places where neighbors run into each other is Walmart, as the mega-billion-dollar chain offers something for everyone.
But for a town like Cody, which hosts tens of thousands of tourists passing through each year, the internationally-recognized brand is even more sought-after, as families from out of town restock their coolers and toiletries and pick up some souvenirs while they’re there.
But Walmart executives saw something more than just your friendly neighborhood Walmart when they were weighing which store is the best in the country – they saw a community-oriented, service-centered group of employees dedicated to their town and their customers.
Which is why Cody’s Walmart Supercenter was chosen out of more than 3,570 other stores in the U.S. as the Supercenter of the Year.
“Obviously, we look at store metrics – sales, profits – but it’s also about how customers feel about our stores through customer surveys,” said Brian Wood, Walmart’s market manager for this region. “But we also look at the different things the stores do to help support the community, how they make the community a better place.”
Service With A Smile
The Cody Walmart Supercenter, which replaced the Walmart discount store there in 2001, created another grocery shopping option for northwest Wyoming. John Dickson has been the manager there for the last 19 years, and said the store’s commitment to the community is strong.
“We live and breathe in Cody, Wyoming, just like everybody else,” said Dickson. And he said the 325 year-round employees (as many as 380 in the summer and around the holidays) are an integral part of the community.
“We're all in this together,” said Dickson. “And I think that that makes a big difference in how the community responds to us as well.”
But it’s the individual associates at the Cody Walmart that Dickson credits for the award.
“Here in our store, we really like to just encourage every associate to do their best,” he said. “We strive to thank them and compliment them when they are doing that. And I just can't be more appreciative of our team and the hard work and the effort that they've put into every day work.”
The Selection Process
Walmart operates more than just supercenters, as anyone who lives in a town with the familiar blue box store can attest. The Cody supercenter features everything contained in an average Walmart discount store, plus a tire and oil change shop, optical center, hair salon and Subway restaurant.
To be named Supercenter of the Year, Wood said the selection process starts at a local and regional level, examining and weighing each of the corporation’s nearly 3,600 stores’ performance before nominating one for recognition. Dickson added that other factors, such as community involvement, also add to the decision.
“We donate to Feeding America, thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to help locally,” he said, “and other areas that we donate to different organizations and groups.”
Dickson added that quite a few fundraisers take place in front of their store, as well – and when a rare disaster occurs (like last year’s Yellowstone flood), associates at the Cody Walmart are ready to help.
“The situation with the flooding, we were able to get a bunch of water and a bunch of different things to help try to alleviate some of that stress there for the people (affected),” Dickson said.
From humble beginnings in 1950, when Sam Walton purchased his first store in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart has grown into an international company, with operations from Africa to Central America and China. So the recognition as the year’s top supercenter carries even more weight, according to Dickson.
“I know a lot of other Walmart stores and a lot of other associates work hard as well, in other parts of the country,” Dickson acknowledged. “But, I’m just kind of awestruck and pretty excited for our team – they work very, very hard.”