New Walmart manager community-minded
John Wakeman is the new manager at Wadena's Walmart. Most recently, he managed a 210,000 square foot Walmart in Elk River. To compare, Wadena's Walmart is 99,000 square feet. "I'd take this Walmart over the bigger ones any day," he said. There are pros and cons associated with every size Walmart, Wakeman said. "We can't be everything to everybody," he said, but he strives to provide the best service to customers. Wakeman has extensive experience in retail, having previously worked in management for Lowe's and Target, along with Retail Merchandising Services before Walmart. "I've lived and worked all around the country but Minnesota is my home, particularly up north," he said, noting he has family that lives in the area. Wakeman started just before the busy Christmas shopping season began and wants to continue working to raise standards at the store. "We're always working to keep things in stock and keep the store clean," he said. He was impressed with the employees when he first arrived. "Eighty-nine employees out of about 175 have been here since the store opened," Wakeman said. "That says a lot for the store." The Wadena Walmart will continue to be community oriented and offer grant funding to different organizations. An upcoming Shop with a Hero event will partner law enforcement and emergency workers with kids for a Christmas shopping experience at Walmart, he said. "That's just the beginning," Wakeman said of Walmart's community involvement. He plans to spend much of his time on the store floor interacting with customers and training employees. "Technology has allowed us to do so many things more efficiently," Wakeman said. He is a believer in working with employees who want to work their way up into leadership roles and will continue to do that. Wakeman also wants to hear from customers on how the store can improve. "Come in and talk to me, I'm always looking for feedback," he said.