Store 5908 Puts Community First

Neighborhood Markets

This Neighborhood Market may be small, but they give back in a big way!

Have you ever been to Sevierville, Tennessee? It’s a top tourist destination near the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg known for beautiful views. It’s also the hometown of Dolly Parton, who famously said, “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.”

Associates at Walmart Store 5908 in Sevierville are living examples of that saying.  This Neighborhood Market raised an impressive $25,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network in 2023 alone. Since it opened in 2016, the store has contributed an amazing $162,000 to the cause.

We talked with Store Manager James “J.D.” Bowers to learn how his team does “a whole lot” for their community.

J.D.’s Walmart career journey

“I started in 2003 as an overnight assembler,” J.D. shares. “I recently celebrated 20 years with Walmart.”

J.D. describes his leadership style as servant leadership with a strong focus on communication.

“I’m out on the floor constantly with my team. I started as an hourly associate, so I've done every job that I ask them to do. I know what they go through every day. And I lead them through when it may be difficult.”

What is unique about Neighborhood Market stores?

J.D. was co-manager of two Walmart Supercenters before becoming a Neighborhood Market manager seven years ago, so he has a unique perspective.

“The smaller format gives us more opportunity to build relationships,” he explains. “With just 140 employees — versus 300 to 400 in a Supercenter — you get to know everyone a little bit better and connect on a deeper level.”

What’s the culture in Store 5908 like?

“It’s a family atmosphere,” he shares. “We have a lot of tenure here, with 25-, 30- and even 35-year associates.”

And “family atmosphere” isn’t just a figure a speech, especially in J.D.’s case. “My wife gets involved to help with all the events,” he says. “Our associates just love her.”

How does the team raise so much for the Children’s Miracle Network?

“We hold bake sales, cookouts and yard sales. We even do face painting for kids,” J.D. says. “Last year, we raised $18,000 and set our goal at $20,000 this year.” In typical Walmart fashion, they blew past that goal by $5,000!

“We all get together and raise money for people who need it — and we have a great time!”

How do they choose which community programs to sponsor?

“We choose the ones that impact the most people, especially less fortunate people,” J.D. explains. “If we can help a nonprofit organization feed members of our community, there's nothing more beneficial than that.”

The team supports Sevier County Food Ministries (which serves 1,700 families each week), Relay for Life, Sevierville Police Department, Pathways Church, Sevier County Schools, the rescue squad, animal shelter and local health fair clinics.

Store 5908 also helps in times of disaster: The team provided supplies to local residents and firefighters during the Gatlinburg Forest Fires in both 2016 and 2022.

How does J.D. mentor the next generation of Walmart leaders?

“Sometimes you can learn more from your peers than from your boss,” J.D. shares. He mentors other store managers in his market when they are struggling. He tells them, “You don't have to do it this way, but here's how I do it.” They learn from J.D., then they develop their own path to success.

“I have a passion to be the best,” J.D. says. His can-do attitude inspires associates to be their best and help make their community its best.

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