Give a smile to get a smile

Opinion Jun 19, 2017 by Marshall Ward Waterloo Chronicle

Walmart and other "big box stores" tend to have a reputation for being soulless — the opposite of the welcoming "mom and pop" experience.

While I've experienced this feeling in many box stores, I've always been amazed by the friendly, upbeat attitude of the Walmart at the Boardwalk on Ira Needles Boulevard.

I was intrigued as to why that one store in particular, every time I visited, had such a different vibe than other box stores.

So I struck up a conversation with store manager Brenda Carron one recent morning after her energetic and motivational morning meeting with staff.

“For me, it’s all about engagement,” said Carron, who has managed Walmart stores in various locations around southern Ontario. “If you engage an associate, your management team, and your peers, you’ll be able to run a store and run it well."

Her management style, along with those managers who came before her, seems to be working, as the staff are always friendly and helpful, and seem to take genuine pride in their work.

Carron said the way management treats associates is the way associates will treat customers, and the key to good customer service is building good relationships with customers.

“If you give a smile you get a smile,” said Carron. “I love what I do — otherwise I wouldn’t drive an hour [from Hamilton] every day. And one of the things I like to say to my own management team is, we’re only as good as our team, and great leaders develop great leaders.”

I watched Carron lead one of her daily morning meetings with staff, and she had everyone laughing and eager to do good work.

“When I recently first arrived at this location, I could already see the associates and level of customer service at this store is fantastic,” she said. “And when you come into a store that already has that embedded, it’s about taking it to the next level and making sure our customers have that great experience every time they come in.”

Carron told me how she was pregnant when Walmart first hired her as a part-time cashier back in 2002.

“They hired me right before I went on maternity leave, and when I came back after having my baby, I had the opportunity to work everywhere from the front end to courtesy desk to garden centre to backroom manager, so I really appreciate that,” she said. “I’ve had some really great leaders in my 15 years with Walmart and was given tons of opportunities and different things to do.”

Carron's early experiences in her Walmart career clearly made an impression, and I wouldn't be surprised if her current employees carry the tradition forward.

It's such a refreshing experience as a customer to feel valued, and to be in an environment where the employees seem to truly enjoy what they're doing.

I hope the example being set at the Boardwalk's Walmart will spread to other stores in the chain and the entire retail industry.

Next time you're there, give a smile — you'll get a smile back.


Marshall Ward is a freelance writer and artist. Email is welcome at marshall_ward@hotmail.com.

Give a smile to get a smile

Opinion Jun 19, 2017 by Marshall Ward Waterloo Chronicle

Walmart and other "big box stores" tend to have a reputation for being soulless — the opposite of the welcoming "mom and pop" experience.

While I've experienced this feeling in many box stores, I've always been amazed by the friendly, upbeat attitude of the Walmart at the Boardwalk on Ira Needles Boulevard.

I was intrigued as to why that one store in particular, every time I visited, had such a different vibe than other box stores.

So I struck up a conversation with store manager Brenda Carron one recent morning after her energetic and motivational morning meeting with staff.

“For me, it’s all about engagement,” said Carron, who has managed Walmart stores in various locations around southern Ontario. “If you engage an associate, your management team, and your peers, you’ll be able to run a store and run it well."

Her management style, along with those managers who came before her, seems to be working, as the staff are always friendly and helpful, and seem to take genuine pride in their work.

Carron said the way management treats associates is the way associates will treat customers, and the key to good customer service is building good relationships with customers.

“If you give a smile you get a smile,” said Carron. “I love what I do — otherwise I wouldn’t drive an hour [from Hamilton] every day. And one of the things I like to say to my own management team is, we’re only as good as our team, and great leaders develop great leaders.”

I watched Carron lead one of her daily morning meetings with staff, and she had everyone laughing and eager to do good work.

“When I recently first arrived at this location, I could already see the associates and level of customer service at this store is fantastic,” she said. “And when you come into a store that already has that embedded, it’s about taking it to the next level and making sure our customers have that great experience every time they come in.”

Carron told me how she was pregnant when Walmart first hired her as a part-time cashier back in 2002.

“They hired me right before I went on maternity leave, and when I came back after having my baby, I had the opportunity to work everywhere from the front end to courtesy desk to garden centre to backroom manager, so I really appreciate that,” she said. “I’ve had some really great leaders in my 15 years with Walmart and was given tons of opportunities and different things to do.”

Carron's early experiences in her Walmart career clearly made an impression, and I wouldn't be surprised if her current employees carry the tradition forward.

It's such a refreshing experience as a customer to feel valued, and to be in an environment where the employees seem to truly enjoy what they're doing.

I hope the example being set at the Boardwalk's Walmart will spread to other stores in the chain and the entire retail industry.

Next time you're there, give a smile — you'll get a smile back.


Marshall Ward is a freelance writer and artist. Email is welcome at marshall_ward@hotmail.com.

Give a smile to get a smile

Opinion Jun 19, 2017 by Marshall Ward Waterloo Chronicle

Walmart and other "big box stores" tend to have a reputation for being soulless — the opposite of the welcoming "mom and pop" experience.

While I've experienced this feeling in many box stores, I've always been amazed by the friendly, upbeat attitude of the Walmart at the Boardwalk on Ira Needles Boulevard.

I was intrigued as to why that one store in particular, every time I visited, had such a different vibe than other box stores.

So I struck up a conversation with store manager Brenda Carron one recent morning after her energetic and motivational morning meeting with staff.

“For me, it’s all about engagement,” said Carron, who has managed Walmart stores in various locations around southern Ontario. “If you engage an associate, your management team, and your peers, you’ll be able to run a store and run it well."

Her management style, along with those managers who came before her, seems to be working, as the staff are always friendly and helpful, and seem to take genuine pride in their work.

Carron said the way management treats associates is the way associates will treat customers, and the key to good customer service is building good relationships with customers.

“If you give a smile you get a smile,” said Carron. “I love what I do — otherwise I wouldn’t drive an hour [from Hamilton] every day. And one of the things I like to say to my own management team is, we’re only as good as our team, and great leaders develop great leaders.”

I watched Carron lead one of her daily morning meetings with staff, and she had everyone laughing and eager to do good work.

“When I recently first arrived at this location, I could already see the associates and level of customer service at this store is fantastic,” she said. “And when you come into a store that already has that embedded, it’s about taking it to the next level and making sure our customers have that great experience every time they come in.”

Carron told me how she was pregnant when Walmart first hired her as a part-time cashier back in 2002.

“They hired me right before I went on maternity leave, and when I came back after having my baby, I had the opportunity to work everywhere from the front end to courtesy desk to garden centre to backroom manager, so I really appreciate that,” she said. “I’ve had some really great leaders in my 15 years with Walmart and was given tons of opportunities and different things to do.”

Carron's early experiences in her Walmart career clearly made an impression, and I wouldn't be surprised if her current employees carry the tradition forward.

It's such a refreshing experience as a customer to feel valued, and to be in an environment where the employees seem to truly enjoy what they're doing.

I hope the example being set at the Boardwalk's Walmart will spread to other stores in the chain and the entire retail industry.

Next time you're there, give a smile — you'll get a smile back.


Marshall Ward is a freelance writer and artist. Email is welcome at marshall_ward@hotmail.com.