Harps Foods' CEO Kim Eskew Talks Challenging Walmart
SPRINGDALE, AR - After CEO Greg Foran called Walmart a “Goliath” and challenged its “David” competitors to “bring it on,” a certain Arkansas-based David revealed itself to the masses as not one interested in lying down and rolling over in the face of the retail behemoth. In an exclusive interview with Talk Business & Politics, Harps Foods CEO Kim Eskew discussed competing with one of the world’s largest retailers in both of their shared backyards.
“It’s really tough here because the Walmart stores that operate all around us in Northwest Arkansas are the best-run Walmarts in the country. They are a formidable competitor. We try and do things a little differently and really emphasize our quality, but it’s tough every day,” Eskew said in the interview.
However, Harps Foods has not only survived in such close proximity to its biggest retail competitor, it has thrived for 89 years and counting. One way the local grocer has established itself in its home state is by investing in local stores, renovating its format, and expanding its network.
“We just opened a new store in Lowell. Right now there is not a Walmart across the street, but I expect one at anytime,” Eskew revealed. “We had the audacity to put a store on Walton Avenue in Bentonville, and they put two other new stores around us, one just across the street.”
While Harps is clearly holding its own against its personal Goliath, that’s not to say it hasn’t faced any challenges—especially not in this heavily saturated retail landscape. In particular, Eskew noted that competing with Walmart for employees has led the local grocer to get creative with its workplace environment in order to differentiate itself.
“I will say the mantle of being the world’s largest retailer is very heavy to carry,” Eskew continued in the interview. “The responsibility of those who work for Walmart is great and requires a lot of time. We try and offer our management more life/work balance. I tell my management they can take off early to attend their child’s ballgame three hours away because no one can go for them. It matters, the time we spend with our kids and family. At the end of life, no one ever says I wish I would have spent more time at work.”
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