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Sam Walton

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Sam Walton

Sam, as he appears in David H. Hickman High School's yearbook Born Died Alma mater Occupation Spouse March 29, 1918 Kingfisher, Oklahoma, U.S. April 5, 1992 (aged 74) Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. University of Missouri 1940 Founder of Walmart Helen Walton (1943 his death)

Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton (March 29, 1918 April 5, 1992) was a businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma best known for founding the retailers Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.


1 Early life 2 The first stores 3 A chain of Ben Franklin stores 4 The first Wal-Mart

5 Personal life o 5.1 Death 6 Legacy 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

[edit] Early life

Sam Walton was born to Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy "Nannie" Lee (ne 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.[clarification needed] 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 eighth 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]

A statue of Sam Walton and his dog outside of Wal-Mart in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, his birthplace. Growing up during the Great Depression, Walton had numerous chores to help make financial ends meet for his family as was common at the time. 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 as an ROTC cadet. During this time, he worked various odd jobs, including waiting tables in exchange for meals. Also during his time in college, Walton joined the 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 with a B.A. in economics, he was voted "permanent president" of the class.

Walton joined JC Penney 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.

[edit] The first stores

In 1945, after leaving the military, Walton took over management of his first variety store at the age of 26. With the help of a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law, 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. His second store, the tiny "Eagle" department store, was down the street from his first Ben Franklin and next door to its main (Newport) competitor. Walton leased the space mainly to preempt his competitor from expanding. It held its own, but didn't fare as well.[citation needed] However the success of the first Ben Franklin drew the attention of the landlord, whose family had a history of retail, P.K. Holmes, who refused to renew the lease when it expired, desiring to reclaim the store, and pass it 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] With a year left on the lease, but the store effectively sold, he, his wife Helen and his father managed to negotiate the purchase of a new location on the downtown square of Bentonville, Arkansas where Walton negotiated the purchase of a small store, and the title to the building, on the condition that he get a 99 year lease to expand into the shop next door. The owner of the shop next door refused 6 times, and Walton had thus given up on Bentonville when his father in law, without Sam's knowledge, paid the shop owner a final visit, and $20,000 to secure the lease. (He had just enough from the sale of the first store to close the deal, and reimburse Helen's father. Before he bought the Bentonville store, it was doing $72,000 in sales. After the expansion, and 5 years under Walton, it was doing $250,000 in sales annually.[citation needed]

[edit] 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 James "Bud" Walton 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."[when?]

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

[edit] The first Wal-Mart

Main article: History of Wal-Mart The first true Wal-Mart opened on July 2, 1962 in Bentonville, 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]

[edit] Personal life

This section requires expansion. Walton married Helen Robson on February 14, 1943.[4] They had four children: Samuel Robson (Rob) born in 1944, John Thomas born in 1946, James Carr (Jim) born in 1948, and Alice Louise born in 1949.[8] 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.[citation needed]

[edit] Death
Walton died on Sunday, April 5, 1992, of multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in Little Rock, Arkansas.[9] The news of his death was relayed by satellite to all 1,960 Wal-Mart stores.[10] 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 Walton 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.

[edit] Legacy

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.[10] Forbes ranked Sam Walton as the richest man in the United States from 1982 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. Walmart operates in the U.S. and in 15 international markets, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.[11] 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.

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