The Story of Sam Walton and How Walmart Came To Be

On March 29 in the year 1918, the man who revolutionized the retailing industry was born in Oklahoma, United States. His name is Samuel Moore Walton, the founder of Walmart, the world’s largest company in terms of revenue.

Sam Walton
Sam Walton

Sam Walmart was the first child of a rural banker. As a small boy, he was trained in milking the family cow and bottling and selling the milk. In high school, he was voted as the most versatile boy. He attended the University of Missouri and graduated with a degree in economics. He went on to work in a local branch of J. C. Penny where he observed with fascination its operation. He served as an intelligent officer during World War II.

After the war, Sam Walton and his brother Bud got the franchise to operate Ben Franklin Stores with the financial backing of his banker-lawyer father-in-law who gave him a loan of $25,000. The first Ben Franklin store was opened in 1945. In 1960, the brothers had 15 stores. When the company head office turned his request to open stores in small towns and also to bring down prices, Sam Walton let go of the franchise.

In 1962 at the age of 44, Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Arkansas. He introduced new concepts such as everyday low prices, always fully stocked shelves, and well-trained employees who in turn gave exceptional customer service. He was a natural cheerleader and company cheering was a norm with in the store. There were even employees whose job was primarily to greet customers.

Sam Walton was a pioneer in opening discount stores in small towns which were avoided by the big retailers. He was also one of the earliest retailers to adopt self-service. But above all, what really provided the greatest advantage was his adoption of the latest technology especially in logistics. He also made sure that his stores were non-unionized. In 1970, the company went public.

Sam Walton died of blood and bone cancer in 1992 at the age of 74. At the time of his death, Wal-Mart was operating two stores in Mexico in addition to its local 1,735 stores, 212 Sam’s Clubs, and 13 Supercenters in 42 states. It registered over $50 billion in sales the previous year, already the largest among retailers in the world. He had been named by Forbes magazine the richest person in the US from 1982 to 1988.


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