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History of Walmart – The Worst Beginning Ever

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Have you ever had a dream? Maybe you dream of becoming the next music sensation. Or maybe you want to be the author of the next best seller. Perhaps you dream to be an amazing entrepreneur, the next Steve Jobs even? Has it ever happened to you that you work your butt off to turn that dream into reality only to see it fall apart on the very first day? If it hasn’t, can you imagine it? You’ll be devastated, wouldn’t you? Not if you are a certain Sam Walton and your dream is to register your name as the most important one in the history of Walmart.

This is How Big Are They and today we will be turning back the pages to look at the incredible history of Walmart and take inspiration from perhaps the worst beginning ever!

Before we discuss anything about Sam Walton or Walmart, I just want you to go through this description of the very first day of Walmart from the former President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, David Glass.

“I thought to myself that this is absolutely the worst discount store or retail store I’ve ever seen. Sam bought a couple of truckload of watermelons and he had stack them up across the front of the store. He had donkey rides for the kids out in the parking lot. What he didn’t anticipate was that the temperature was 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Harrison that day. The watermelons began to pop and the juice began to run all over the parking lot and the donkeys did what donkeys do. You can imagine what it looked like.”

I certainly can imagine what it must have looked like. It looked like somebody (donkeys), literally, took a shit all over your hopes and dreams. But then again, this vision (or lack of) is the reason why Sam Walton’s name is the biggest name in the history of Walmart and not mine. As ugly as the first day of Walmart might have been, Walton and the people involved in the early days of Walmart had a distinct quality: they improved something, at least one thing, every day.

In fact, Sam Walton was a man of many distinct qualities. He was known as the “most versatile boy” during high school and was one of the extremely rare people who knew all the janitors by their first names. He carried this philosophy of respect and value for everyone, regardless of their status or what they looked like and integrated it into the core philosophy of Walmart.

“I personally would like to see people settle down in Walmart and plant their hopes and get their homes paid for and become leaders in their communities.”

Sam Walton

But before establishing Walmart, Sam Walton did a variety of things. For starters, he milked the family cow, bottled the unsold milk and drove it to customers to make some money during the Great Depression. After that, he worked as a newspaper boy and also sold magazines. After numerous other jobs, in 1942, he served as a Security Supervisor during the World War II. He then rose to the rank of Captain during the war. After the war, in 1945, he opened his first variety store at the age of 26 and never looked back. He finally opened the first Walmart store on July 2, 1962.

history of walmart infographic

How Walmart Became What It is.

In its first decade of its operation, Walmart grew exponentially. This was due to the fact that it offered the lowest prices and full stocks at all times. 17 years later, Walmart hit the $1 billion mark for the first time in 1979 and has never really looked back. Unfortunately, Sam Walton passed away in 1992. His death resulted in an 180-degree change in approach and philosophy of retail chain. It adopted more efficient and effective business practices, for which it had to compromise with its small town feel. This, however, proved to be a masterstroke in the history of Walmart. Today, Walmart generates more than $182 billion in revenue and employs more than 2.3 million people. You can read more about just how big Walmart is in my other post. You’ll be baffled, have my word for it!

On that note, there you have it, the incredible history of Walmart, how Walmart began and just how big it is today. What did you make out of this? For me, personally, the biggest takeaway is that no matter how shitty the beginning may be, no pun intended, if you are really passionate about something and you know what you’re doing, no force can ever stop you from achieving your dreams.

I hope you enjoyed this post and it inspired you in some way. As always, thank you for reading and I will catch you in the next one!

Oh and one last thing… Have you ever had a dream? 😉

You’ll also like: The Story of Estee Lauder

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