What Year Did the First Wal-Mart Store Open?

by Lesley Barker; Updated September 26, 2017
Cloth in retail shop.

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart reported sales of $473.1 billion for its fiscal year ended January 31, 2014. The company operates more than 11,000 retail units in 27 different countries, as well as online commerce operations in 10 countries. It is hard to believe that this retail phenomenon has grown from just a single store in Rogers, Arkansas, which opened in 1962.

History

Sam Walton started his career in retail as a clerk for J.C. Penney. He served in the military until 1945, and then purchased his own Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. Over a period of more than 15 years, he opened several more of these stores and became savvy about what makes for profitable retail sales. He opened his first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962. Since then, the Wal-Mart brand has steadily grown to a position as the "world's largest retailer."

Time Frame

The company has been growing steadily since it opened in 1962. Five years later, there were 24 stores in Arkansas, one in Sikeston, Missouri and another in Claremore, Oklahoma. In 1967, the company did $12.6 million in sales revenue. The company incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on October 31, 1969. Its home office in Bentonville, Arkansas opened in 1970. Sales first passed the $1 billion mark in 1979, when the company had 276 stores in a total of ten states and employed 21,000 associates.

Geography

In 1991, Wal-Mart opened its first store outside of the United States, in Mexico City. In 2000, Fortune Magazine named Wal-Mart the number five "Global Most Admired All-Star" and in 2003 and 2004 Fortune upped the ranking to number one. In 2007, Wal-Mart created 2.5% of Mexico's new jobs. In 2008, Wal-Mart operated more than 4,300 facilities within the United States, 642 Sam's Clubs, and 6,142 facilities abroad.

Significance

Wal-Mart's slogan is "Save Money Live Better." This pertains to everything that the company does, from its commitment to clean, renewable energy with zero waste to its reputation as a place where prices on name-brand items are low thanks to the volume with which Walmart can purchase them. It takes corporate citizenship seriously. In 2013, together with the Walmart Foundation, the firm gave more than $1.3 billion to causes worldwide.

Expert Insight

Going forward, Walmart identifies several objectives, including supporting the American economy by sourcing more of its goods from American sources, furthering its goal of environmental sustainability, supporting military veterans and their families with job training and employment opportunities, and several more.

About the Author

Lesley Barker, director of the Bolduc House Museum, authored the books "St. Louis Gateway Rail—The 1970s," published by Arcadia, and the "Eye Can Too! Read" series of vision-related e-books. Her articles have appeared in print and online since the 1980s. Barker holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Washington University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University.

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