Sam Walton is an American icon. When we think of discount stores, we think of Sam Walton. Poor boy makes good can describe Sam Walton. He came from a poor background, to become a successful businessman and the richest man in the United States. Sam Walton ruled the discount retail market.
Sam was born in Kingfisher Oklahoma in 1918 on the family farm. When Sam was growing up he helped his family by doing odd jobs for money. He did everything from selling magazine subscriptions to selling milk from the family cow. He always worked hard and did not waste time. His classmates voted him most versatile boy. Sam attended the University of Missouri where he became very active in student life, becoming the president of his senior class and becoming part of an honorary society of men devoted to their school.
He worked his way through college by having a paper route and life guarding at the local pool. He concentrated on a degree in business. During college he decided retailing was where he wanted to be. Sam s first job was at J. C.
Penney in Des Moines, Iowa. At the time, J. C. Penney was the leader for retailing, placing an emphasis on customer service. He worked hard at this job, never knowing where it might lead to some day.
All the things he learned from his first retail job at J. C. Penney would help him later in life and business. In 1945, after serving in the armed forces, Sam moved to Newport, Arkansas. Here he started his first business, purchasing the local Ben Franklin Five and Dime Store. Sam loved retailing and it showed.
His business was very successful and he was always trying new things to generate more business for his store. For example, Sam went out on a limb borrowing money for an ice cream machine. He decided that if he put the machine outside his storefront he could attract more customers. He was right, in the first full year it had $105, 000 in sales, and just two years later it was up t $175, 000. Sam was on his way to a retailing dream.
However, he was forced to move his business to another town, when the people who owned the store building would not renew his lease. So in 1950, Sam and his family moved to Bentonville, Arkansas. This was a hard town to move into, but Sam was determined and worked harder than ever before to become successful. Sam had learned a hard lesson, never again would he have a store in another persons building.
His business in Bentonville, Arkansas would eventually become the headquarters of Wal-Mart.