Personal Finance: Sam Walton

Sam Walton was the son of Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy Lee Walton. He was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, and was the older of two boys. His family moved to many different small towns. He became the youngest Eagle Scout in the state of Florida’s history.  He joined JC Penny as a management trainee and was inducted into the army during WWII. He reached the rank of Captain.

After leaving the army, he purchased a Ben Franklin retail store in Newport, Arkansas. He made sure that he always had different kinds of goods and raised his sales from 80,000 to 225,000 in 3 years. This attracted the attention of the landlord, who refused to continue the lease so that he could give the store to his son. Walton managed to buy a store in Bentonville, Arkansas, and named it “The Five and Dime.” He increased the store’s sales by 103,000 in 3 years. With the success of two stores 200 miles apart, Walton became more enthusiastic about finding new locations for more shops. (He bought an airplane to help with this).  He soon opened many more stores and encouraged his managers to make an equity stake with them. By 1962, he had 16 stores in  Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas.

The first true Walmart opened in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas.  Walton was determined to market 100% American products. Unlike other chain stores, Walton put his stores in small towns, not large cities. To  do this, he made sure that every single one of his Walmarts was within a day’s drive of a regional warehouse, and he used his own trucking service to deliver goods.

Walton died of blood cancer on Sunday, April 5, 1992, in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the time, he employed 380,000 people and earned $50 billion each year from 1735 Walmarts, 212 Sam’s Clubs, and 13 Walmart Supercenters. He is buried in the Bentonville Cemetery.


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