With nearly 10,000 locations worldwide, it may not be surprising news to learn that in a few months a Wal-Mart store plans to open in the Aramingo Crossings Shopping Center on Aramingo Avenue at Butler Street.
But to hear Bhupit “Bubba” Bohra tell it, it’s not hard to see the potential this store has to create opportunities for residents.
Bohra is the store manager of the new Wal-Mart, which is projecting a spring opening. On Feb. 10, he was present at the temporary hiring center set up at 2301 E. Allegheny Ave. to fill more than 300 jobs by the time of the store’s grand opening.
With the help of Kensington Impact Services, a non-profit group that works to provide employment, training and other services to residents, the new Wal-Mart location on Aramingo Avenue will bring work to a community where new jobs have been sparse.
“The hiring center has been open for approximately two weeks now and we have gotten over two-thousand applicants so far,” said Bohra. “We are looking for candidates with differing backgrounds, and we want to hire within this community, which is our primary focus. It could be people with an extensive retail background, or someone just out of high school that is looking to start a new career. Either way, they deserve the opportunity and we have the necessary resources to train them.”
Bohra said he treats the hiring of applicants very seriously. In fact, before he began his career with the Wal-Mart corporation, he started where a lot of job applicants are now — with little training or experience but fueled by a desire to learn a career to better themselves.
Bohra said he started “below rock-bottom” as an overnight stocker at an Ephrata, Pa., Wal-Mart in 2001. It took just six years of hard work to get from “rock bottom” to store manager for Bohra, years that were rife with opportunity, he recalled.
“I knew nothing about retail, to the point where at the time I didn’t know a hot dog from a hamburger,” Bohra said. “But I had entered a family environment with friendly associates who taught me everything, and what everything meant. I look at myself and where I started, with hopes and a desire to achieve future goals. If I can help give something back to people in this community that I received myself at one point, it is the biggest satisfaction of my job.”
The store is hiring both full- and part-time associates for employment in all areas of the store, from entry-level to supervisory positions.
Though activity within the hiring center had slowed a bit by mid-afternoon last Friday, there were still plenty of hopefuls filling out applications and waiting to be interviewed for a possible position.
Most spoke of excitement at the opportunity to enhance a career with one of the largest retailers in the world.
“So far it’s been a positively overwhelming response,” said Randy Hofer, director of marketing for Impact Services, the group that has been assisting with the hiring center. “It’s good for this specific neighborhood, especially within a one-to-two-mile radius. The location is ideal for public transportation and will bring more business to benefit the Aramingo Crossings corridor.”
Not only will the Wal-Mart aid people who desperately need work in a still-struggling economy, but it should be attractive to local shoppers in search of affordable prices.
City Councilman Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.), who represents the area where the store will open, likes what he sees of the store and its impact on the future.
“The opening of this store is going to make the neighborhood grow big time, and that’s key from my perspective,” Squilla said.
He also has been touting a new “Clean and Green” initiative to help brings jobs and safety to downtrodden areas in the district.
“We want people to find a job, be able to buy a house and to send their kids to school within the community. By doing so, we hope to create a wider tax base, get more people working to pay into the wage-tax system, and ultimately lower taxes,” he said.
The Wal-Mart hiring center is part of that ongoing process.
ldquo;We are looking for people who want to grow and make a difference in their lives. They have something to bring to the table, and that’s a start,” Bohra said. “As our business continues to grow, so will the people that we add to our team.” ••
The Wal-Mart hiring center, at 2301 E. Allegheny Ave., will continue accepting applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the next two weeks.
If candidates cannot get to the temporary hiring center, they can apply online at www.Wal-Martstores.com/careers
Reporter Ed Morrone can be reached at Edward.firstname.lastname@example.org