Neighbors — Nearly so long as Walmart has been in Jacksonville, Jennifer Furlong has been a component

Throughout her 40 years of working on the Jacksonville Walmart, Jennifer Furlong has seen that outdated is usually new once more.

“After I labored in toys, the large factor was Tickle Me Elmo. Now unexpectedly, Elmo is coming again. Care Bears are coming again. I believe it’s nostalgia, every little thing goes retro,” Furlong mentioned. “File gamers are coming again out, you see quite a lot of vinyl data now, it’s all going again to the way in which it was after we had been children. So we might must get our outdated bell-bottoms again out.”

Furlong is a Jacksonville native who has lived in New Berlin for the previous 33 years. She began her Walmart employment in 1980 at age 19, and the part-time job quickly turned full-time. Walmart had taken over the outdated Mohr Worth retailer in 1977, so Furlong has been employed by the native retail big for nearly its whole Jacksonville historical past.

“That they had solely turn out to be Walmart just a few years earlier than, so I received in on the bottom flooring,” Furlong mentioned. “I didn’t know if I might keep for a protracted time frame, as a result of I used to be younger. However then I preferred it very a lot so I caught it out and made it a profession.”

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Furlong is a workforce lead in command of the pets, well being and wonder, pharmacy, paper items and chemical compounds sections. She and her fellow associates have each day duties that embody value adjustments, shifting merchandise and gross sales fixtures, checking in merchandise that arrives on vans, plus particular initiatives assigned by administration.

However the main responsibility of all Walmart associates is customer support.

“Our clients are our primary precedence. With out them, we don’t have jobs, so we maintain them the easiest way that we will,” Furlong mentioned. “I like serving to the shoppers and I prefer to transcend what they anticipate.”

“You need to need to be with folks,” Furlong mentioned. “You take care of clients whether or not they’re pleased or upset about one thing, we nonetheless must deal with all the clients the identical, with kindness it doesn’t matter what.”

Typically these buyer relations are straightforward, particularly when the associates discover acts of kindness from the shoppers themselves.

“We’ve had clients are available and pay for folks’s layaways at Christmas. That’s a very nice factor to do,” Furlong mentioned. “Individuals simply maintain one another. You would possibly see it on the register, if somebody doesn’t have the funds for to pay for his or her gadgets, somebody might hand them just a few {dollars} to cowl it.”

On different days, the client relations could also be a bit more difficult.

“My husband couldn’t consider it was as loopy because it was the day after Thanksgiving,” Furlong mentioned. “He truly noticed anyone take one thing out of anyone else’s procuring cart. He mentioned ‘I can not consider they simply did that,’ and I mentioned ‘oh, it will get higher, simply watch.’ Individuals arguing over one greenback washcloths, issues like that.”

Typically, what clients do may be touching, or just weird.

“We had a buyer and an affiliate who received married within the layaway part of the shop as a result of that’s the place they met,” Furlong mentioned. “We additionally had a buyer that mistook the becoming room for a restroom.”

Furlong has been happy to see the shoppers’ reactions to the COVID-19 precautions that Walmart has put in place.

“It’s been a bit of troublesome at occasions with COVID however the clients have been actually good, going together with no matter we will do,” Furlong mentioned. “They actually respect it.”

Furlong mentioned Walmart workers on each shift should carry out temperature checks twice a day to protect towards COVID-19 infections. Associates now park on the facet of the constructing moderately than within the entrance to allow them to enter the shop by means of a separate entrance prior their temperature checks. Associates should additionally full an intensive well being self evaluation earlier than every shift, they usually attempt to keep social distancing between clients and different associates.

Furlong mentioned the elevated use of know-how through the years has made it simpler to do routine duties within the retailer.

“Now we have hand-held computer systems that we take out to the ground, the place earlier than you needed to hand-key every little thing within the again room whereas all people was making an attempt to get on the pc to do it,” Furlong mentioned. “So it takes much less time to do sure issues now. However there may be glitches when the computer systems go down.”

Furlong simply labored her 40th Christmas procuring season, which she mentioned is her favourite time of yr to be a Walmart affiliate.

“I attempt to get folks concerned about various things, one thing they may not have seen earlier than,” Furlong mentioned. “I get pleasure from displaying them tips on how to use this or that, the positives or negatives about one thing.”

Furlong’s profession has been filled with memorable moments. She met Walmart founder Sam Walton when he visited the primary Jacksonville retailer location and located that Walton “was very variety and real and cared about his associates.” The corporate despatched Furlong and her husband to Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, for her 35th and 40th employment anniversaries and “we had been handled first-class all the way in which,” Furlong mentioned.

Furlong hopes to retire from Walmart within the subsequent couple of years. She and her husband have two grown youngsters and a granddaughter that they’ll spend extra time with after her retirement.

“I’ve completely no regrets about my years with Walmart, it’s a fantastic firm for anyone to work for,” Furlong mentioned. “I actually just like the folks that I work with. They’re my second household.”

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