The Walmart Supercenter in Jasper, already excited over a major ongoing renovation, has been honored as the best Walmart in a region covering the northern halves of Alabama and …
The Walmart Supercenter in Jasper, already excited over a major ongoing renovation, has been honored as the best Walmart in a region covering the northern halves of Alabama and Mississippi.
Store manager Chris Rhodes said the Regional Supercenter Store of the Year Award was given to the Jasper store, Store No. 287, at a Jan. 30 company meeting in Houston, Texas. The Jasper location, which received the award for the Southeast Division, Region 14, beat out approximately 130 stores.
"It is based off of the level of service we provide our customers and taking care of our associates, of course," Rhodes said. "That is based off of different metrics and those are the two most critical metrics that they measure off of."
Rhodes said it is very rare that a store is presented the award, which is given to one store each year. After 11 years of being a store manager, this is the first time in that period he has been been at a store to get this honor.
"You are talking about a chance of one in 30 getting it," he said. "It's pretty significant.
"What it means the most to me is the associates that we have in our store have worked very hard to attain an award that is recognizing the hard work and effort they have put forth, as well as the customers. The customers trust us to provide an excellent service with low prices. They have as big a part in this award as our associates do."
He said it involves the quality of the associates sets the standard for the store, in the desire they show to go "above and beyond" in their service, as well as that trust from the customers.
The customers "have other options," he said. "For them to choose to shop with us in this community is ... much appreciated," he said.
Jasper has been for years a store with higher than average volume. Rhodes said he has worked in various stores over 27 years in Walmart, and to have the level of consistent excellence and popularity in a store since 1992, when the current Jasper store was constructed, is something he and others are proud of. That consistency also plays a part in the selection of the award.
"We take a lot of pride in having a clean, fast and friendly experience for our customers," he said.
The honor came as the store officially started its 12-week remodel last week, with sections of the store already being moved (such as bread, from Aisle 3 to Aisle 9) and upgraded (jewelry, with upgraded glass showcases and expanded selection). This renovation, the first major one here in about a decade, will pave the way, in part, for new flooring (from white tile to finished concrete floors) and a new online grocery pickup (also known as OGP) service.
The remodel should be completed in time for a May 10 re-grand opening.
Rhodes said, the lounge for the associates will be renovated, as will the fitting room for customers. A renovation is also set for the pharmacy, electronics and pick up areas.
The major excitement has been about OGP, as he said many customers are eager for the service, "my wife being one of them." He said it is also much needed in the store.
Once the service is implemented in May, the customers will be able to order online and be able to have the bagged groceries brought to their cars at a reserved time.
"The most significant (change) is our increase in footage and our consumables department. That will probably be our biggest benefit," he said, noting consumables involve pets, chemicals, paper, health and beauty aids, cosmetics and the pharmacy. He said that getting "the expansion in those departments is much needed in this store. It's not just the volume, but it increases the selection on key items for our consumers."
Rhodes, a Fayette native, started with Walmart (walmart.com and on its app) in 1992 during his senior year in high school in Tupelo, Mississippi.
"That (supercenter) store in Tupelo, Mississippi, was built the same year as this one was, and this (store in Jasper) was the first supercenter in the state of Alabama," he said.
He didn't know how many supercenters are now in the state, although he knows 4,000 Walmart stores (including some Neighborhood Markets and the old smaller Walmarts, called Hometown Stores) are now in the nation.
Rhodes said the store will keep customers updated on the progress of the store renovation on its Facebook page, Walmart Jasper.