Welcome Wal-Mart

Opening week is full of fun for friends, family and community

Photo with no caption
By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

Melvin Covington spent $25,000 Monday night at Wal-Mart.

The manager of the new Maryville Wal-Mart and East Tennessee native handed out 17 checks to area charities, foundations and agencies to celebrate the new Wal-Mart’s opening at "Friends and Family Night" for the store. The grand opening was on Wednesday, March 14.

The following received checks for $1,000: Haven House, Inc., Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Maryville Police Department, Empty Pantry Fund, Girl Scouts of America, Boys Scouts of America, Maryville Fire Department, American Cancer Society, Blount County Chamber Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Tennessee, Keep Blount Beautiful, Blount Memorial Foundation, City of Maryville Foothills Fall Festival, American Red Cross and Blount County Literacy Council.

In addition, Habitat for Humanity and Blount County Education Foundation each received checks for $5,000.

The new Wal-Mart is 207,893 square feet with 430 associates. There are an additional 20 managers, Covington said.

During the party, Melvin Banks of Atlanta, a disc jockey and emcee, kept the mood light. Activities included getting managers to "Twist and Shout," the crowd and Girl Scouts to do the Electric Slide and sing "Happy Birthday" to Maryville Fire Chief Ed Mitchell.

Covington said more than 400 associates worked five weeks to get all the racks and shelves stocked. The store appeared ready for the first customers. Andrea Owens, with Wal-Mart store planning, praised the associates who "took this from a building to a store."

"Everything out here wasn’t done by me," she said. "It was done by the associates. I’d like to thank the families of associates for putting up with the associates complaining about me for the past weeks," she said, as the crowd laughed.

Owens said she hoped the store would be profitable. "I hope it builds up your community and makes your community stronger," she said.

After a career in the grocery industry, Covington worked with Wal-Mart for 10 years before he became general manager.

"Let me say I’m very honored, very privileged to be manager of this store," Covington said. "I’ve been with Wal-Mart 10 years. I guess I never thought it would happen. I guess patience and perseverance won out, and I got to stay in the area I grew up."

Scott Owens, former Heritage High School football player and now market human resources manager for Wal-Mart, praised Covington for his people skills and work ethic. "He’s going to do an excellent job, especially with his years of experience in
grocery and retail," Owens said.

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