Walmart’s Sam Walton

Sam Walton,  (Samuel Moore Walton) was born March 29, 1918 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, U.S and died April 5, 1992 in Little Rock, Arkansas of cancer. He was the American retail tycoon who founded Walmart in 1962, and grew it, by 1990, into the largest retail store chain in the United States.

He was the quarter back at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri which he graduated from in 1936. Then, in 1940, Walton earned a degree from Mizzou in economics and entered a J.C. Penney Company management training program in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1945, he opened his first Ben Franklin variety (five-and-dime) store in Newport, Arkansas, using money from his father in law, and relocated the store to Bentonville, Arkansas, five years later. By the early 1960s, Sam and his brother, James, operated a regional chain of Ben Franklin stores. But when that company’s executives rejected his concept for a discount store chain to be based in rural towns, Walton decided to open his own chain. The first Walmart store, became a reality in 1962, when he opened in Rogers, Arkansas.

At that time, large American discount store chains were usually located in or near large cities, but Walton was convinced that even small towns could support enough business to make such stores profitable. He would locate his stores no further than a day’s drive away from a giant Walmart warehouse that made large-volume purchases and used its own trucking service to deliver the items to the stores. Volume buying allowed Walmart to offer name brand goods at discount prices where there was little competition. As a result, the chain experienced tremendous growth. By 1977, it had more than 190 stores. By 1985, it had 800.

But despite being named the wealthiest person in the United States by Forbes, he kept a humble profile. He drove the same red truck for years and lived in the same home he and his wife purchased in 1959.