Sam Walton Changed the Way America Shopped
BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS, USA - MARCH 15: (EUROPE OUT) Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's first store, opened in Bentonville, has been transformed into a Wal-Mart visitor center and museum, March 15, 2005 in Bentonville, Arkansas. (Getty Images)
Sam Walton should be pretty well-known in America but for those of you who can’t place the name, he is the founder of the first Walmart store in the United States. Although his name may not be a household name, the name of his store certainly is.
The first Walmart store opened its doors in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. It was unlike anything shoppers could have imagined. At the time, Sam Walton had been running a successful 5 & 10 store (also known as a five and dime), called Walton’s, in Arkansas, since 1950. He was a clever businessman who was truly interested in serving his customers. His philosophy was that if he took care of his customers, they would take care of him.
At some point, Walton decided to revisit the way his store did business and was looking for a way to sell more merchandise by keeping his prices low. His idea was that although he would have to lower his profit margin, he would sell more by undercutting his competition. This new concept was well received, and the rest is history. His business would soon grow by leaps and bounds.
Walton soon opened a second location of his store in a nearby town. His assistant and purchasing manager came up with a new name that would incorporate the first 3 letters of Walton’s last name, and “Wal-Mart” was born.
By 1967, Walton had a grand total of 24 stores across the state and had reached sales in the billions. Soon, Walmart would branch out into neighboring states and there was no stopping him. Currently, Walmart is a worldwide corporation, boasting nearly 12,000 stores, known for modest prices for comparative quality products.
Sam’s Club, also owned by Sam Walton, open in the 1980s. The store offered even larger savings because it was considered a “big box” store. These stores are able to pass on more savings because shoppers can buy in bulk.
Years ago, shoppers went to the food market for food, clothing stores for clothes, the toy store for toys, the hardware store for tools and various specialty stores for other things. Shoppers today have the luxury of one-stop shopping if they are so inclined. It is possible to pick up a gallon of milk, a car tire, some toys for the kids and even something for the dog, all in one store.
Some Walmart locations have fast food restaurants, coffee shops, eye care centers, hair salons, photography studios and banks inside as well. There is a movie called, Where the Heart Is, which is about a homeless girl who briefly lived in a Walmart store because she didn’t have anywhere else to go. Not so far fetched given all the amenities.
Walmart is currently the world’s largest retailer and is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, thanks to a shrewd businessman and his tenacity. If you have ever shopped at a Walmart and chances are that you have, you must surely know that it offers something, free of charge, that Sam Walton probably didn’t plan on… the “people of Walmart”.
Tags: A Brief History Of... | Career-Defining Moments | Sam Walton | The 1960s | Walmart
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