Pam (pictured above), now a front-end team associate, started out as a cashier then went into customer service. She spent about seven years in layaway and another 25 in accounting before moving back to the front end.
All three women (“the girls,” as Sandy calls them) have seen a lot of changes since they joined Walmart back in 1982—from how items are priced (everything used to be individually stickered) to how things are checked out (prices used to be entered in the register by hand).
Through it all, though, the family atmosphere at the store has remained. And it’s that sense of support that kept them there—and kept them going.
In 2017, Deb’s home was destroyed by an explosion caused by a gas leak. Worst of all, her husband was critically burnt. He underwent eight surgeries in 59 days, suffering blood clots, sepsis and pneumonia. While he was hospitalized, Deb’s manager arranged it so Deb could work mornings and then head to the hospital. When Deb’s husband came home, Deb took two months’ leave to take care of him.
Meanwhile, Deb’s friends and coworkers rose to the occasion, finding many ways to look after her: They donated money, held raffles, put on a benefit and even bought Deb a new pair of bifocals. “Anything they could do, they stepped up to the plate,” Deb says.
In a small store, you really know your coworkers, and they become an extension of your family. “It’s a blessing,” Deb believes. “We all support each other.”
“I've met some really great people along the way. Our little store is just a family‚ and I’m mama!” laughs Sandy.
In 2021, the associates of Store 480 helped lead the store to win the Division 1 Hometown Store of the Year for Region 25. “We just have a lot of good people in the store that make the store successful,” Deb says. “It’s just a really good close community,” adds Sandy.
Despite 40 years at Walmart under their belts, Deb, Pam and Sandy aren’t thinking about retirement yet. “You have to have a purpose to get out and go,” Sandy, who’s 71, says. “I really believe that Walmart gives me a purpose in life.”
Looking back, Sandy recalls when Mr. Sam visited. “It was amazing to me because he just seemed like your uncle who walked in the store from the farm. You’d never know he was a millionaire!”
"I'm very proud of what I've done,” Pam says. “I feel like I've accomplished a lot. I feel like the 40 years has just been a blink of an eye.”
“I honestly don't know where I would be had Walmart not come to our little community,” Deb says, noting their town has only a few thousand residents. “I feel like we were very fortunate back then in the 80s to get something that has provided a lot of people a living.”