Supercenter of the Year: At Home on the Range

Celebrating You

This small-town store gets visitors from around the world — and gives them all a warm welcome.

“We're just pretty friendly here,” says Lori Riggle, a front-end team lead at Store 1778 in Cody, Wyoming. “It’s a friendly town so you've got friendly associates.”

Store 1778 is the last big store tourists find before entering Yellowstone National Park from the east. So this Walmart Supercenter may be in a small town — the population of Cody is around 10,000 — but it gets visitors from all over the world.

“I'll walk out in the parking lot and just look at all the different license plates, from New York to even Hawaii, believe it or not,” says John Dickson (pictured above), Store 1778’s manager. “It is pretty exciting to see that many different people.”

Not their first rodeo

John says Cody hosts rodeos every night from Memorial Day to Labor Day, a draw for even more visitors. With all the different attractions, the town’s population doubles in warmer months.

Wherever customers are from, they get a warm welcome from associates.

“We hear comments all summer long from people not only all over the nation, but from different countries, and they tell us how nice this Walmart is,” John says. “That definitely makes us feel really good and proud inside about the team and their hard work to maintain a nice-looking store.”

The location close to Yellowstone doesn’t just mean different customers — it also means different merchandise. John says every summer, the store sets up a special section featuring souvenirs for tourists. There’s everything from t-shirts and mugs to cowboy hats.

“We sell lots of cowboy hats and Western wear,” John says. “I guess the thing that really sets us apart is just the feeling of the frontier, if you will — the last area where people feel like they're out there in cowboy land, if you will.”

Hold your horses!

In fact, when gas prices were really high, a few customers actually rode in on horses to get their groceries. John says the cart pusher held the reins while they shopped. That’s definitely something you won’t see at most Walmarts!

Lori, a 17-year Walmart associate who admits she likes to sing on the job, is the cheerleader of the group, says John.

“We like to help each other in each other's departments,” Lori says. “So that makes us all friendly with each other and happy, so we're going to like being here and doing our job. We're going to be nice to the customers and they're going to be nice to us and we're going to have a good time. We do a lot of laughing here.”

Teaching each other to take the reins

Zacchary Ellis, a coach who has been with Walmart since 2010, says associates at Store 1778 go out of their way to provide good customer service.

“I think all of our team leads and associates are just really amazing,” Zacc says. (Speaking of amazing: Check out this story about Zacc going above and beyond for a customer.)

Zacc says he likes mentoring associates, teaching them to be more positive, and setting them on the path to be mentors themselves someday.

“My goal is to become maybe a regional manager someday and see how many people within my career that I can impact in a positive way and get them to where they want to be with the company,” he says. “That's kind of what John did with me a long time ago.”

Leading in Mr. Sam’s footsteps

John started with Walmart in 2000, moving to manage the Cody store in 2004. He says he loves merchandising, but his greatest joy is seeing people grow under his leadership. When he first joined the company, he watched a lot of old VHS tapes that featured clips of Sam Walton.

“It really struck me when I watched the videos that if I can emulate some of these things, it definitely will make an impact on a lot of people, as Sam Walton made a huge impact on so many others,” he says. “So it's always been my desire since then to really find out what makes people tick, and to bring out the best in them.”