Wal-Mart has a proud history of serving South Sound residents, dating back many years with the opening of our stores in Lacey, Yelm, Chehalis and Lakewood. We’ve provided the area with good jobs and the opportunity for associates to advance and build careers. These stores have also helped South Sound customers to save time and money as they shop for everyday necessities at unbeatable prices.
At Wal-Mart, we believe in a philosophy of operating globally and giving back locally. Last year, Wal-Mart and the Wal-Mart Foundation awarded $12 million in cash and in-kind donations to local organizations in the Washington communities we serve. This includes a $25,000 grant in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County’s Triple Play Health and Wellness Program, which teaches club members how to eat right, keep fit and form positive relationships that inspire a healthful lifestyle.
With such a deep, local commitment, Wal-Mart was thrilled to recently open our newest South Sound store, in Tumwater. The full-service store helps to extend our mission to an even greater number of local customers, associates and charitable organizations.
At the July 20 grand opening event, local shoppers were waiting at the doors in the early morning hours. Many expressed their excitement about the opportunity to shop locally. The event program featured community leaders who were there to receive $89,000 in grants to organizations such as the Thurston County Food Bank, Knights of Columbus, City of Tumwater Parks and Recreation, South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity, South Sound Foursquare Church, and Wolf Haven International, to name just a few.
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Mayor Pete Kmet was present at the event, too, and he spent a few moments to officially welcome Wal-Mart to Tumwater. The mayor noted Wal-Mart’s community-investment activities and the store’s design and construction, which resulted in several local street improvements.
Furthermore, along with providing a substantial number of jobs to the local economy – the Tumwater store has 250 new associates – Wal-Mart’s property and sales tax revenue helps support basic community services such as police and fire departments, as well as local schools.
The opening of the Tumwater store comes at a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet. Far too often, they’re making the difficult choice between paying rent and feeding their families. Our new store has a full line of groceries, including a bakery, a deli serving fresh food and meal solutions for moms, meat and dairy products, and fresh produce. It also offers more than 30 merchandise departments such as apparel and accessories, a lawn and garden center, health and beauty aids, and an expanded electronics department.
That’s good news to South Sound customers, some of whom have been traveling up to 20 miles each way to shop, costing them unnecessary time and expenses when both are running in short supply.
Wal-Mart customers shop with us because they like the service our associates provide, and because they can buy the products they need at affordable prices in one convenient place. Our associates choose to work at Wal-Mart because we offer real career opportunities and provide competitive pay and affordable health care.
In Washington, the average wage for regular, full-time hourly associates at Wal-Mart is $12.73 per hour. And, nearly 75 percent of the U.S. Wal-Mart store management team started as hourly associates.
Wal-Mart is proud of what our new store is bringing to Tumwater in terms of economic growth, investment in charitable organizations, and the ability of local residents to buy the products they want and need at affordable prices. We look forward to engaging with the South Sound community and serving customers for many years to come.
Matti Havener is senior director, regional general manager for Washington and Oregon, with Wal-Mart.