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Supercenter named best in America

Hagerstown's Wal-Mart Supercenter wins award for 2002

Hagerstown's Wal-Mart Supercenter wins award for 2002

February 11, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS and JULIE GREEN

gregs@herald-mail.com

julieg@herald-mail.com

Randy and Sandy Mills make the 45-minute trip from Needmore, Pa., to Hagerstown at least once every two weeks, sometimes more, for one reason: To spend money at Wal-Mart.

"I couldn't even tell you how much a year," said Randy Mills, 40. "There at Christmas, I probably spent $1,100, (or) $1,200."

Hagerstown's Wal-Mart Supercenter was recently named the Supercenter of 2002 in the United States, Manager James Hornsby said.

"What's most important about this award is it's for the community and it's for my associates that work really hard every day," Hornsby said.

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The store on Garland Groh Boulevard at the Centre at Hagerstown employs about 575 people.

The designation was announced during the annual year-end meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last month, Hornsby said.

"Our employees have bragging rights ... I guess like (the University of) Maryland's got the bragging rights to the next NCAA tournament," Hornsby said.

The award means the Hagerstown store will get a trophy within the month - it gets passed from the previous year's winner - and each associate gets a fitted ring similar to a class ring, Hornsby said.

There are 2,826 Wal-Mart stores nationwide, 1,258 of which carry the Supercenter designation, according to Wal-Mart company information. Supercenters are larger than regular Wal-Marts, which have their own best-of-the-year award.

Hagerstown's Supercenter is nearly twice the size of the regular Wal-Mart it replaced three years ago. At 219,000 square feet, it is roughly the size of four NFL-regulation football fields.

The Supercenter of the Year award does not necessarily go to the biggest moneymaker in the company, but that is a factor, Hornsby said. Customer service also is a consideration, as is community service by Wal-Mart employees.

Hornsby would not disclose sales figures for his store, saying they were proprietary information.

Other criteria for the designation includes having friendly and knowledgeable associates, cleanliness, customer complaints, in-stock inventory, and checkout surveys done with customers, Hornsby said. The checkout survey includes how long a person had to wait and how they were treated during checkout, he said.

The store and the Wal-Mart Foundation gave nonprofit groups in the community $24,000 in 2002, Hornsby said. This included a $5,000 grant for a women's and children's shelter, he said.

Monica Edwards, 35, of Hagerstown and her two children were looking for a birthday present at the store last week. But the Wal-Mart trip had a deeper meaning than just shopping, Edwards said.

"You look around and you see other people like you," which makes Wal-Mart feel safe and like an inviting social gathering place, Edwards said.

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