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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sam Walton

Sam, as he appears in David H. Hickman High School's yearbook
Born March 29, 1918(1918-03-29)
Kingfisher, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died April 5, 1992 (aged 74)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Occupation Former Chairman of Wal-Mart
Spouse(s) Helen Walton (1943 – 1992, his death)

Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton (March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992) was an American businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma best known for founding the American retailer Wal-Mart.


Early life

Sam Walton was born to Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy "Nannie" Lee (née Lawrence) near Kingfisher, Oklahoma on March 29, 1918.[1] There, he lived with his parents on their farm until 1923. Sam's father decided farming did not generate enough income on which to raise a family, so he decided to go back to a previous profession of a mortgage man. So he and his family (now with another son, James born in 1921) moved from Oklahoma to Chesterfield, Missouri. There they moved from one small town to another for several years. While attending 8th grade in Shelbina, Sam became the youngest Eagle Scout in the state's history.[2] In adult life, Walton became a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[3]

With a strong Christian background based on hard work and ethics Walton excelled physically in high school, winning state titles in both basketball and football.[citation needed] As starting quarterback for Columbia's David H. Hickman High School, Walton never lost a game.[citation needed] While at Hickman, he also served as vice president of the student body in his junior year and as president in his senior year. He performed well enough academically to become an honors student.[citation needed]

Growing up during the Great Depression, Walton had numerous chores to help make financial ends meet for his family. He milked the family cow, bottled the surplus, and drove it to customers. Afterwards, he would deliver newspapers on a paper route. In addition, he also sold magazine subscriptions.[4] Upon graduating, he was voted "Most Versatile Boy."

After high school, Walton decided to attend college, hoping to find a better way to help support his family. He attended the University of Missouri and majored in economics and was an ROTC officer. During this time, he worked various odd jobs, including waiting tables in exchange for meals. Also during his time in college, Walton joined the estimable Zeta Phi chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was also tapped by QEBH, the well-known secret society on campus honoring the top senior men. Upon graduating in 1940, he was voted "permanent president" of the class.

Walton later joined JC Penney's as a management trainee in Des Moines, Iowa three days after graduating from college.[4] This position earned him $75 a month. He resigned in 1942 in anticipation of being inducted into the military for service in World War II.[4] In the meantime, he worked at a DuPont munitions plant near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Soon afterwards, Walton joined the military in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, supervising security at aircraft plants and prisoner of war camps. In this position he served at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Utah. He eventually reached the rank of captain.

The first stores

In 1945, after leaving the military, Walton opened a variety store. With help from his father-in-law with a loan of $20,000, plus $5,000 he had saved from his time in the Army, Walton purchased a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas.[4] The store was a franchise of the Butler Brothers chain.

It was here that Walton pioneered many concepts that would prove to be crucial to his success. Walton made sure the shelves were consistently stocked with a wide range of goods at low prices. His store also stayed open later than most other stores, especially during the Christmas season. He also pioneered the practice of discount merchandising by buying wholesale goods from the lowest priced supplier. This allowed him to pass on savings to his customers, which drove up his sales volume. Higher volumes allowed him to negotiate even lower purchase prices with the wholesaler on subsequent purchases. Walton's store led in sales and profits in the Butler Brothers' six-state region. One factor that made this store successful was its central location, making it accessible to a wide range of customers. In an attempt to limit the expansion of his main competitor, the Sterling Store, Walton leased a nearby Kroger store and opened it in 1950 as the "Eagle" department store, but it didn't fare as well.

Due to the variety store's enormous success, the landlord, P.K. Holmes, refused to renew the lease when it expired, desiring to pass the store onto his son. The lack of a renewal option, together with the outrageous rent of 5% of sales, were early business lessons to Walton. Despite forcing Walton out, Holmes bought the store's inventory and fixtures for $50,000, which Walton called "a fair price".[5]

Walton's Five and Dime (a.k.a. Walton's 5 & 10)

Sam Walton's original Walton's Five and Dime, now the Wal-Mart Visitor's Center, Bentonville, Arkansas.

Before long, Walton arranged for another location for a new store. Unable to find a new location in Newport, Walton located a variety store in Bentonville, Arkansas which he would open as another called "Walton's Five and Dime." The original store, now called the Wal-Mart Visitor's Center, is located at 105 North Main Street, Bentonville, Arkansas. In Bentonville, the Waltons became involved in numerous civic activities. Sam Walton served as president of the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

A chain of Ben Franklin stores

Walton went on to open more Ben Franklin Stores with the help of his brother, father-in-law, and brother-in-law. In 1954, he opened a store with his brother in a shopping center in Ruskin Heights, a suburb of Kansas City. He opened another in Arkansas, but it failed to be as successful as his other stores. Walton decided to concentrate on the retail business instead of the shopping centers and opened larger stores which were called "Walton's Family Center."

Walton offered managers the opportunity to become limited partners if they would invest in the store they oversaw and then invest a maximum of $1,000 in new outlets as they opened. This motivated the managers to always try to maximize profits and improve their managerial skills. By 1962, Walton and his brother Bud owned sixteen variety stores in Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas (fifteen Ben Franklin and the one independent Fayetteville store).[citation needed]

The first Wal-Mart

The first true Wal-Mart opened on July 2, 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas.[6] It was called the Wal-Mart Discount City store and located at 719 West Walnut Street. Soon after, the Walton brothers teamed up with the business-savvy Stefan Dasbach, leading to the first of many stores to come. He launched a determined effort to market American-made products. Included in the effort was a willingness to find American manufacturers who could supply merchandise for the entire Wal-Mart chain at a price low enough to meet the foreign competition.[7]

Personal life

Walton married Helen Robson in 1943.[4] They had four children: S. Robson "Rob" Walton, John T. Walton, Jim Walton, and Alice Walton.

Walton supported various charitable causes, including those of his church, the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Sam and Helen R. Walton Award was created in 1991 when the Waltons made a gift of $6 million which included an endowment in the amount of $3 million to provide annual awards to new church developments that are working in creative ways to share the Christian faith in local communities.


Walton died Sunday April 5, 1992, of multiple myeloma, a type of a bone cancer, in Little Rock, Arkansas.[8] The news of his death was relayed by satellite to all 1,960 Wal-Mart stores.[9]

He left his ownership in Wal-Mart to his wife and their children: Rob Walton succeeded his father as the Chairman of the Board of Wal-Mart, and John was a director until his death in a 2005 plane crash. The others are not directly involved in the company (except through their voting power as shareholders). The Walton family held five spots in the top ten richest people in the United States until 2005. Two daughters of Sam's brother Bud Walton, Ann Kroenke and Nancy Laurie, hold smaller shares in the company.


In 1985, Sam Walton began a program designed to stem the 'tide of communism' in Central America by promoting capitalism and privatization.[citation needed]

In 1998, Walton was included in Time's list of 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. Walton was honored for all his pioneering efforts in retail in March 1992, when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush.[9] Also that year, the Jiangsu province of the People's Republic of China awarded him the Golden Star Foreigner's Award for "tireless assistance in the development of People's owned factories in the Suzhou area".[citation needed]

Forbes ranked Sam Walton as the richest man in the United States from 1985 to 1988, ceding the top spot to John Kluge in 1989 when the editors began to credit Walton's fortune jointly to him and his four children.[citation needed] (Bill Gates first headed the list in 1992, the year Walton died). Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. also runs Sam's Club warehouse stores. Wal-Mart stores operate in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[10]

At the University of Arkansas, the Business College (Sam M. Walton College of Business) is named in his honor.

Mr.Walton was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1992.


  1. ^ Sam Walton; John Huey (1992). Sam Walton: Made in America. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0385468473. 
  2. ^ Townley, Alvin. Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  3. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts". Troop & Pack 179, Virginia Beach, VA. 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Daniel, Gross; Forbes Magazine Staff (August 1997). Greatest Business Stories of All Time (First ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. p. 269. ISBN 0-471-19653-3. 
  5. ^ Walton, Sam; John Huey (1992). Made in America: My Story. New York: Doubleday. p. 30. ISBN 0-385-42615-1. 
  6. ^ Daniel, Gross; Forbes Magazine Staff (August 1997). Greatest Business Stories of All Time (First ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. p. 272. ISBN 0-471-19653-3. 
  7. ^ Abraham; Kathawala, Heron. "Sam Walton: Walmart Corporation". The Journal of Business Leadership, Volume I, Number 1, Spring 1988. American National Business Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  8. ^ Ortega, Bob. "In Sam We Trust: The Untold Story of Sam Walton and How Wal-Mart Is Devouring America". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  9. ^ a b Daniel, Gross; Forbes Magazine Staff (August 1997). Greatest Business Stories of All Time (First ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. p. 283. ISBN 0-471-19653-3. 
  10. ^ International Operations Data Sheet Walmart Corporation, July 2009.

Further reading

  • Vance H. Trimble, Sam Walton: The Inside Story of America's Richest Man, 1990.
  • Sam Walton and John Huey, Sam Walton: Made in America: My Story, 1996. ISBN 0553562835.
  • Anthony Bianco, "The Bully of Bentonville", 2006. ISBN 0385513569.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Samuel Moore Walton (March 29, 1918April 5, 1992) was an American businessman and entrepreneur founded the retailer Wal-Mart.

== Sourced

  • I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We're going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Samuel Moore Walton
Born: March 29, 1918
Oklahoma, United States

Died:April 6, 1992
Occupation: Chairman, Wal-Mart

Net worth:$15.2 BillionUSD 1985- 1988 Forbes 400

Samuel Moore Walton was an United States businessman. He was born on March 29, 1918 near Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Walton is the person who created the well-known American stores, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. Walton was born to Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy Lee Walton. He was part of the Walton family, which is one of the richest families in the world. Walton died on April 6, 1992.

He was a billionaire but was known for driving a pick-up truck instead of an expensive car.

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