The Lake News Online
  • Walmart celebrates 40 years of savings in Eldon

  • While talk continues to circulate around town about the possibility of a supercenter being built in Eldon, the existing Walmart reached a milestone recently.

    The discount store celebrated its 40th anniversary Feb. 29.

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  • While talk continues to circulate around town about the possibility of a supercenter being built in Eldon, the existing Walmart reached a milestone recently.
    The discount store celebrated its 40th anniversary Feb. 29.
    “Forty years ago to this day, the city of Eldon and Walmart partnered together,” store manager Tom Mills said during the 40th anniversary celebration, held at the store. “And to this day, it has been a success, not only for Walmart, but for the community of Eldon. So, thank you very much.”
    The anniversary celebration was a community event. Students from Upper Elementary School led in the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Eldon High School choir sang the National Anthem, and Mayor John Holland spoke on behalf of the city.
    “Congratulations to Walmart and all the employees and what they mean for the community and the whole surrounding area,” Holland said. “We can’t stress how important you are to our community.”
    A couple of days later, Walmart hosted the Eldon Area Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday Coffee on March 2, where store manager Mills addressed the rumors about a supercenter.
    “I know there was probably some concern about possibly a supercenter coming in, and I’m going to tell you what I know at this point,” Mills said. “I think it was about three and a half weeks ago, there were possibly some land deals going on. My boss was actually in that day and I asked him if he knew anything. I finally got a hold of somebody and called the home office and this is what they told me. They said we are pursuing our options in Eldon. That’s what they gave us. Walmart is very detailed and they’re going to do some studies before they make an announcement. Because the worst thing you could do as an organization is say we’re going to do this, and then pull the rug out.
    “We had a company come in and do some ground samples … and there was a lot of surveying going on,” Mills said. “Honestly, at this point, I really don’t know a whole lot except that they are pursuing their options. I think it’s very possible, but you know, it could be two or three years down the road. I can tell you this, if I get an opportunity I’m going to try and push and I’m going to try and give them my insight on what I think would be best for the
    Mills has been manager of the Walmart store in Eldon for six years. He introduced other members of the management team at last week’s 40th anniversary celebration.
    “I am only one part of this store. When I’m not here, I know I have two solid people who will take over the store and treat you the same way I would,” Mill said when introducing assistant managers Dan Hayes and Paul Gardner. “We have 60 years experience (with Walmart) between us. Dan, from day one, wrapped his arms around me when I came here, and Paul has been a great addition, too. Without these two guys, our store wouldn’t be what it is today.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Eldon Walmart has a number of its approximately 90 employees who have worked at the store for 30 plus years.
    “We have five of our 30-year associates here this morning, who started over 30 years ago,” Mills said. “So at least 150 years of experience right here. And we also have a lot of 20-year associates, and 15.
    “We did a calculation, and experience in our store, we have 694 years of experience among the Walmart associates,” Mills said. “So that’s pretty awesome.”
    Kent Morris, Walmart market manager who supervises nine stores, including the one in Eldon, commended the employees for making the store a success.
    “It’s been an honor to work with this group of associates,” Morris said.
    “I just want to say thank you to the associates and Tom and your management team.”
    The managers of the Walmart stores in Osage Beach and Versailles — Phil Hamilton and Deanna Mathews — attended the Eldon store's anniversary celebration, along with other members of the Walmart management team for the area, as well as representatives of the Eldon Chamber of Commerce, school district, city of Eldon and business community.
    It has been 40 years since the Walmart store opened in Eldon, but store manager Mills said the company’s philosophy is still the same.
    “Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) had lots of quotes. One that always stuck with me is the customer is the boss,” Mills said. “Sam always believed the customer was the main focus and if we took care of the customer, the customers would take care of us. … The customers are the lifeline between Walmart and the community of Eldon.”
    At the end of the celebration event, Mills led employees — and visitors — in a Walmart cheer.
    The chant ended with the question who’s No. 1?
    “The customer, always,” was the response.