Sunday, June 29, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #165 Start Your Day With A Smile, Walmart Supercenter, Liverpool, New York June 2014

This is another very current photo. I took it yesterday at the new Walmart Supercenter in Liverpool (or Clay, I'm not sure which it is), New York. This is a suburb of Syracuse, New York. I stayed overnight in their parking lot.

I don't feature people in my photo-of-the-week very often, but meet Kathleen. Kathleen is one of the "Greeters" who welcomes you as you enter the store. If you haven't had anyone smile at you before you encounter Kathleen you won't escape her smile. And, I can assure you, Kathleen's smile is genuine, not one of those forced "beauty queen" smiles. Even if she's engaged in a conversation, as she was with me on several occasions, she still acknowledges each person entering the store at her door. Not only do you get a smile and an upbeat, enthusiastic greeting, but she remembers the names of many of the regular patrons, knows if they had a recent medical condition or procedure, asks about their family and is responsive to everyone from infants to those in their 80's and 90's.

Kathleen, it turns out, is originally from my hometown area in New Jersey, a little town named Tenafly. The little town of about 14,000 was the birthplace and/or home of such people as Yogi Berra, NY Yankee catcher, businessman and philosopher; Jimmy Dean (yep, the country singer and breakfast meat purveyor - you probably thought he was from Virginia); Leslie Gore, the singer; Ed Harris, the actor; Glenn Miller, the band leader; Gil McDougald and several other New York Yankee players, plus a long list of others AND Kathleen.

I asked Kathleen if she was one of the supposedly typical "disgruntled" Walmart employees. Boy, did she jump on me for that one. She said she loved her job and seeing all her "friends" everyday. She said the disgruntled Walmart employees are the people who don't do their jobs very well and thing they deserve more for doing as little as possible. If I were Walmart corporate management, I'd take Kathleen and promote her to an employee trainer, especially store greeters, and have her train store greeters chain wide. Personally, I don't think she'd want the job because she has so much fun being at that door in Liverpool, New York, but what a change she could make in corporate culture and customer satisfaction.

I don't know if Kathleen has rubbed off on her co-workers at this particular store of if there is just generally a really good, enthusiastic attitude at this store, but I found others to be a bit more upbeat than most other Walmarts I've been through. I'm sure the store management is due some credit, too. But, to their credit, finding, hiring and allowing a positive person like Kathleen to stand at their front door greeting incoming customers and saying goodbye to customers leaving the store was a very good hiring decision. 

Thanks for making my time in "your" store a real pleasure and thanks for the warm hug (how many of you can say you got a hug when leaving a Walmart), Kathleen.


  1. As a spouse of a Walmart greeter, thank you for the positive image of what they do there. You wouldn't believe the horror stories of what goes on behind the scenes, though. It isn't the stores that are the problem. It's the nearly every day shop-lifters, and the ones who insult the store and the greeters when asked to see receipts for purchases which they have (too often) not paid for. Even the ones who have paid for their purchases can be loud-mouthed jerks for absolutely no reason. If people only would stop and think that the greeters are the only security that the stores have, and without them, the cost of the goods stolen would raise the prices of the goods that the honest people buy! Last year, my wife was responsible for stopping someone with over $900 worth of electronics in their cart. Many other times it has been several hundred dollars worth! If the store had to make up for those kinds of losses, the prices of merchandise would be right up there with the luxury stores! Many people know the routine and have their receipt in hand when going out the door, and often thank the greeter. Others throw their receipts away before hitting the door, or have them buried somewhere that requires them to dig them out. And how many years have some of these people been shopping in stores? By now, you would think it would be common sense to have a receipt readily available at ANY store...just in case there's any question. It would make employee's jobs a whole lot easier! But no...even honest people sometimes make an issue of it, blaming the employee as well as the store, when the employee is simply doing what they were told to do! So on behalf of ALL greeters and store employees, thank you to the people who make their jobs easy and pleasant, and shame on those who do nothing but grumble about being asked for a receipt! If you're honest, you should know the routine by now, and if you aren't, you deserve to have the police called on you!

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    2. Thanks for your thoughts, John. It's all about relationships and respect. Having been in business all my life I and my employees have experienced all kinds of things. But, while the old retail adage, "The customer is always right," may still be taught in many places, the truth is that the customer is not always right, however, treating one another with respect and being accepting and tolerant of differences of opinion is vital in creating positive relationships between customers, "line staff" and management of businesses. I long ago learned that treating people positively - whether I'm the supplier or the customer goes a long way in having a satisfying transaction. We all have a role to play in society and I don't care if you are a CEO of a mega corporation, a super star celebrity or the president of the United States, You are no better or lesser than anyone else. But, you can sure make someone's day or you can destroy someone's day just by your attitude and how you treat another human being. One of the questions I despise and causes me to immediately lose respect for an individual is when that person asks "Do you know who I am?" I don't care who you are, I owe you nothing more than to do my job to the best of my ability and my respect if you earn it. Just because you have a title doesn't mean you've earned my respect, especially if you don't respect me. Unfortunately, most people are not taught to think like this. I'm going to find a way to point Kathleen out as a positive example of a Walmart employee to the corporate management in Bentonville and also to her store manager if I can get an email address for him or her and ask that my letter be placed in her HR file. Maybe she'll be selected as the "employee of the month" or something.

      On the other hand, one thing that gripes me is that I seldom hear the common courtesies we were brought up with like using the words "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," "sir" and "ma'am." My parents taught me to always use those little words appropriately and when I worked in a supermarket and a couple delicatessens while I was in high school these words were drilled into me and if I ever got caught not using them I would be reprimanded. Today, Walmart and elsewhere, it's seldom I hear these words and I usually commend the individual on their politeness and thank them for knowing how to use them. It's simply a sign of respect for the customer. I don't hear those words from the cashier, but I always find myself saying thank you for my change - which they owe me. It's just a habit to be polite and courteous. When and where did this disappear?