Walton was the founder
of Sam's Club and Wal-Mart, one of the
world's largest general retail chain stores.
By 2001, Wal-Mart had over 4500 stores
Walton was born on March 29, 1918 in Kingfisher,
Oklahoma to Thomas Gibson Walton, a farmer,
and Nancy Lee Walton. In 1923, Walton's
father determined that their farm did
not provide enough income on which to
raise a family and decided to move the
family to Missouri to become a mortgage
banker, his previous profession. The Walton
family moved from town to town with Walton's
father, but young Sam Walton still remained
focused on his studies and sports.
attending the 8th grade, Sam Walton became
the youngest Eagle Scout in Missouri history
and he excelled at basketball and football
during his high school years. Walton's
life was not easy, though, and his academics
were met with equal challenges at home.
Growing up during the Great Depression
meant that his family was always looking
for ways to save money and Walton's parents
required him to tend to matters at home
as much as those at school. Part of his
daily routine involved milking cows and
delivering milk, along with newspapers,
to people in the neighborhood.
graduating high school, Walton pursued
a higher education at the Univeristy of
Missouri-Columbia in hopes of finding
a career that would help support his family.
During his time at the university, Walton
was an officer with the ROTC unit, worked
odd jobs to help feed and support himself,
and joined various prestigious fraternities
such as Zeta Phi, Beta Theta Pi, and Alpha
Kappa Psi. He graduated with a degree
in economics and was known as an honorable,
his degree, Sam Walton joined the management
team of JCPenny in Des Moines, Iowa, only
three days after graduation. Having served
with the ROTC in college, Walton anticipated
military service when World War II began
in 1942. Walton resigned his position
and worked at the DuPont munitions plant
awaiting his call to duty. It was in this
plant that he met Helen Robson, his future
wife. They met in April of 1942 and married
in February of 1943. Shortly thereafter,
Walton left with the military to serve
with the Intelligence Corps where he eventually
became a captain.
left the military in 1945 and decided
he wanted to open his own department stores.
Instead of starting with ones that would
compete with his former employer, Walton
chose to focus on variety stores. His
father-in-law loaned him the initial $20,000
to help him start his first store, a Ben
Franklin franchise variety store, in Arkansas.
Walton wanted to focus on providing a
wide range of goods at discounted prices
to the consumer and keep his stores open
longer than his competitors, even during
the Christmas season. His lower-priced
strategies allowed him to drive up sales
and negotiate lower prices on purchases
with his wholesalers. A combination of
his location and price strategies made
him a top seller in the chain in the six-state
region of the franchise market.
rent and unfair lease negotiations eventually
forced Sam Walton to open his own store
in Bentonville, Arkansas called "Walton's
Five and Dime" and sell off his inventory
and franchise location to the location's
owner, instead. In Bentonville, Walton
continued to provide low prices and long
hours while subsequently participating
in community activities such as the Rotary
Club and Chamber of Commerce. He continued
to open new stores and offered the managers
to become involved in the business from
an investment perspective. By 1962 Walton
and his brother Bud owned a total of sixteen
stores in Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas,
most of which still functioned under the
brand of Ben Franklin.
is best known for starting the chain "Wal-Mart"
which first opened in 1962 in Bentonville,
Arkansas. He transferred his philosophies
from his Ben Franklin stores to his own
brand stores in the process and worked
hard to help bring a large variety of
products and low prices to his consumers
throughout his career. Walton remained
dedicated to keeping Wal-Mart involved
in local activities by allowing charities
to hold bake sales on his property as
well as providing scholarships to high
school graduates from local schools.
a result of his accomplishments, Sam Walton
eventually received the Presidential Medal
of Freedom from George H. W. Bush in 1992.
Walton also reached the ranks of the richest
man in the U.S. From 1985 until 1988.
Walton passed away on April 6, 1992 and
left his business to his wife and children
who became the primary shareholders of
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