The History of Walmart: From Small Store to Global Giant

Image of a new Walmart store.

A Look At Walmart
Key Points and Facts
Lessons To Consider
Questions and Answers
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The History of Walmart: A Retail Giant’s Journey

Founding and Early Years

In the small town of Rogers, Arkansas, a significant dream became reality when Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in 1962.

His vision was clear – to offer low prices and excellent service. By 1967, Walmart had grown to 24 stores and incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in 1969, marking the start of a retail revolution.

Expansion and Going Public (1970s)

The 1970s were a time of rapid growth for Walmart. It became a publicly traded company in 1970, fueling its expansion.

By 1975, the iconic Walmart cheer was born, and the first pharmacy opened in 1978. The Walmart Foundation was established in 1979, showing Walmart’s commitment to community service.

Innovations and New Ventures

The 1980s were marked by innovation and expansion. 1983 saw the launch of the first Sam’s Club, and in 1988, the first Walmart Supercenter opened.

Technological advancements were also a priority, with the introduction of computerized POS systems. Always full of surprises, Sam Walton performed a hula dance on Wall Street in 1984!

Rise to America’s Top Retailer (1990s)

By 1990, Walmart had become the nation’s No. 1 retailer. Its international presence began in 1991 with a Sam’s Club in Mexico City.

After Sam Walton died in 1992, the company continued its expansion into Canada and China, never losing sight of its founder’s vision.

Entering the New Millennium (2000s)

The new millennium saw the launch of in 2000. Walmart’s community spirit shone through its response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

In 2006, Walmart introduced a $4 generic-drug prescription program, making healthcare more affordable for millions.

Technological and Global Growth (2010s)

Sustainability and Walmart’s expansion into South Africa became a key focus in 2011.

The company committed to hiring veterans in 2013 and made significant investments in e-commerce, acquiring Yihaodian in China in 2015.

Adaptation and innovation (2020s)

In response to COVID-19, Walmart launched the Walmart+ membership program in 2020.

Services like InHome Delivery and drone delivery were expanded, showcasing Walmart’s adaptability and innovation.

Corporate and Cultural Impact

Walmart’s influence on retail is undeniable. It symbolizes capitalist competition, positively and negatively impacting local businesses and the economy.

Founding and Early Experimentation (1950s)

Walmart’s origins lie in the 1950s, with Sam Walton’s experiment in retail.

He purchased Luther Harrison’s variety store and opened Walton 5-10 in Bentonville, Arkansas, laying the groundwork for Walmart’s future.

Establishment of the First Walmart

In 1962, the first Walmart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas. It focused on serving suburban and rural communities with low prices, a strategy that differentiated it from competitors.

Rapid Growth and Expansion

By 1967, Walmart had 24 stores in Arkansas. It expanded outside Arkansas in 1968 and incorporated in Delaware in 1969.

Going Public and Further Expansion

Walmart went public in 1972, a crucial step in its national expansion. By 1975, it had grown to over 125 stores with 7,500 employees.

First Acquisitions and New Ventures

Walmart’s acquisitions in the late 1970s and 1980s, including the Mohr-Value stores and Hutcheson Shoe Company, laid the foundation for its future growth.

Global Expansion and Technological Integration

The 1990s saw Walmart’s international expansion, technological advancements, and record sales, firmly establishing it as a retail giant.

21st Century Developments and Online Presence

Technological innovations like Walmart Pay, online expansions, and a rebranding to Walmart, Inc. marked the 2000s and 2010s.

Current Status and Operations

Today, Walmart operates over 11,300 stores worldwide, employs over 2 million people, and remains dominant in the global retail industry.


Key Points and Facts of Walmart’s History

Founding and Early Years (1962-1970)

  • Sam Walton opens the first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962.
  • Rapid growth: 24 stores by 1967 and incorporation in 1969.

Expansion and Going Public (1970s)

  • Walmart becomes publicly traded in 1970.
  • Introduction of the Walmart cheer in 1975.
  • First pharmacy in 1978 and Walmart Foundation in 1979.

Innovations and New Ventures (1980s)

  • Launch of the first Sam’s Club in 1983; first Walmart Supercenter in 1988.
  • Introduction of computerized POS systems.
  • Sam Walton’s hula dance on Wall Street in 1984; Walton Family Foundation in 1987.

Rise to America’s Top Retailer (1990s)

  • Becomes No. 1 retailer by 1990.
  • International expansion starts in 1991 with Sam’s Club in Mexico City.
  • Sam Walton’s death in 1992; expansion into Canada and China.

Entering the New Millennium (2000s)

  • Launch of in 2000.
  • Response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
  • $4 generic-drug prescription program in 2006.

Technological and Global Growth (2010s)

  • Focus on sustainable agriculture; expansion into South Africa in 2011.
  • Commitment to hiring veterans in 2013.
  • E-commerce investments; acquisition of Yihaodian in China in 2015.

Adaptation and Innovation (2020s)

  • Response to COVID-19; launch of Walmart+ in 2020.
  • Expansion of services like InHome Delivery and drone delivery.
  • Continued focus on sustainability and technology.

Corporate and Cultural Impact

  • Influence on retail, economy, and local businesses.
  • Symbol of capitalist competition and its implications.

Founding and Early Experimentation (1950s)

  • Origin as an experiment by Sam Walton in the 1950s.
  • Purchase of Luther Harrison’s store; opening of Walton 5-10 in Bentonville.

Establishment of the First Walmart (1962)

  • First store opens in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas.
  • Focus on suburban and rural communities; low-price brand merchandise.

Rapid Growth and Expansion (1967-1969)

  • 24 stores in Arkansas by 1967; expansion outside Arkansas in 1968.
  • Incorporation in Delaware in 1969.

Going Public and Further Expansion (1970s)

  • Public offering in 1972; market price of $47.
  • Growth to 125 stores and 7,500 employees by 1975.

First Acquisitions and New Ventures (1977-1988)

  • Acquisitions of Mohr-Value stores and Hutcheson Shoe Company.
  • Introduction of Supercenters; David Glass as CEO in 1988.

Global Expansion and Technological Integration (1990s)

  • Expansion into Mexico City in 1991; Sam Walton’s Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992.
  • Formation of Walmart International Division in 1993.
  • First $100 billion sales year in 1997.

21st Century Developments and Online Presence (2000s-2010s)

  • CEO transition to Lee Scott in 2000.
  • Launch of Walmart Pay in 2016; free two-day shipping in 2017.
  • Company name change to Walmart, Inc. in 2018.

Current Status and Operations

  • Over 11,300 stores worldwide; over 2 million employees.
  • 599 Sam’s Club stores; over $120 billion in international sales.
  • Approximately $1.8 million in profit per hour.

Brand Building and Expansion (Early Years)

  • Customer-focused advertising and low-cost imported goods.
  • Warehouses close to stores for efficient distribution.

Introduction of Superstores and International Expansion (1983-1990)

  • First superstores in 1983; largest retailer in the U.S. by 1990.
  • Expansion begins internationally, starting with Mexico City.

Financial Risks and Growth Post-Sam Walton’s Death (1990s)

  • Doubling of sales in 1995.
  • Borrowing for expansion leads to significant debt.

Major Milestones and Global Presence (Late 1990s-2000s)

  • First store in China in 1996; $100 billion sales in 1997.
  • Largest employer in 1999; wealthiest company in 2002.

Record Sales and Operational Expansions (2000s)

  • Record sales of $1.43 billion on Black Friday in 2002.
  • “Save Money Live Better” slogan in 2007.
  • Expansion into video streaming with Vudu, Inc. in 2010.



1950s: Beginnings and Experimentation

  • Sam Walton experiments with retail concepts, leading to the purchase of Luther Harrison’s variety store in Bentonville, Arkansas.

1962: The First Walmart Store

  • July 2, 1962: Opening of the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas by Sam Walton.
  • Focus on offering brand merchandise at low prices to suburban and rural communities.

1967-1969: Rapid Growth and Expansion

  • By 1967: 24 Walmart stores open in Arkansas with $12.6 million in sales.
  • 1968: Expansion outside Arkansas, opening stores in Missouri and Oklahoma.
  • October 1969: Incorporation of Walmart in Delaware.

1970s: Public Trading and Expansion

  • 1970: Walmart becomes publicly traded.
  • 1972: Walmart stock begins trading at a market price of $47.
  • 1975: Introduction of the Walmart cheer.
  • 1978: First pharmacy opens.
  • 1979: Establishment of the Walmart Foundation.
  • By 1975: Over 125 stores and 7,500 employees.

1980s: Innovations and New Ventures

  • 1983: Launch of the first Sam’s Club.
  • 1984: Sam Walton performs a hula dance on Wall Street.
  • 1987: Walton Family Foundation established.
  • 1988: First Walmart Supercenter opens.

1990s: Rise to Top Retailer and Global Expansion

  • 1990: Walmart becomes the nation’s No. 1 retailer.
  • 1991: International expansion begins with a Sam’s Club in Mexico City.
  • 1992: Sam Walton passes away; expansion into Canada and China.
  • 1993: Formation of Walmart International Division.
  • 1995: Sales double three years after Sam Walton’s death.
  • 1996: First Walmart store in China.
  • 1997: Walmart’s first $100 billion sales year.

2000s: New Millennium and Online Presence

  • 2000: Launch of
  • 2002: Record single-day sales of $1.43 billion on Black Friday.
  • 2005: Response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • 2006: $4 generic-drug prescription program introduced.
  • 2007: “Save Money Live Better” slogan introduced.
  • 2010: Expansion into video streaming with the purchase of Vudu, Inc.

2010s: Digital Expansion and Labor Strategies

  • 2011: Focus on sustainable agriculture and expansion into South Africa.
  • 2013: Commitment to hiring veterans.
  • 2015: Investments in e-commerce; acquisition of Yihaodian in China.
  • 2016: Launch of Walmart Pay.
  • 2017: Introduction of free two-day shipping.
  • 2018: Company name changes from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to Walmart Inc.

2020s: Adapting to New Challenges

  • 2020: Response to COVID-19 and launch of Walmart+ membership program.
  • Expansion of services like InHome Delivery and drone delivery.

Current Status and Recent Developments

  • Walmart today operates over 11,300 stores worldwide with more than 2 million employees.
  • It runs 599 Sam’s Club stores with over $120 billion in international sales.
  • Walmart earns approximately $1.8 million in profit per hour.
  • 2019: Stock reaches a high of $117 per share; average share price over 52 weeks at $101.67 with a market cap of $328.8 billion. Dividend payout to shareholders of 1.81%.


Teachable Lessons from the History of Walmart

Daring to Dream and Start Small

Sam Walton’s journey began with a single store in Arkansas in 1962.

This teaches us that big achievements often start with small steps.

Walton’s vision and determination to offer low-priced goods led to the birth of Walmart, showing that great things can grow from humble beginnings.

Growth Through Innovation and Adaptation

From 24 stores in 1967 to becoming a publicly traded company in 1970, Walmart’s rapid expansion illustrates the power of innovation and adaptation.

Introducing new concepts like the Walmart cheer and the first pharmacy underlines the importance of constantly seeking new ways to connect with customers and meet their needs.

Embracing Change and New Opportunities

The first Sam’s Club launch in 1983 and the Walmart Supercenter in 1988 are examples of seizing new opportunities.

Walmart’s history teaches us that embracing change and diversifying into new areas can be key to sustained growth and success.

The Impact of Leadership and Corporate Culture

Sam Walton’s leadership style, including his famous hula dance on Wall Street, reflects the importance of a leader’s role in shaping a company’s culture.

Establishing the Walton Family Foundation also shows that successful businesses can and should give back to their communities.

Navigating Challenges and Setbacks

Walmart’s journey wasn’t always smooth. It faced challenges like legal issues and the need to adapt to a changing retail landscape.

Walmart’s ability to navigate these challenges, including its response to disasters and introducing innovative programs like Walmart Pay and the $4 generic-drug prescription program, underscores the importance of resilience and adaptability in business.

These lessons from Walmart’s history reveal that business success often requires vision, innovation, leadership, and overcoming challenges.


Frequently Asked Questions About Walmart

When and Where Was the First Walmart Store Opened?

  • The first Walmart store was opened by Sam Walton in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. This marked the beginning of what would become a global retail empire.

How Did Walmart Grow So Quickly in Its Early Years?

  • Walmart experienced rapid growth in its early years, expanding to 24 stores by 1967 and incorporating as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in 1969. This growth was due to Walton’s focus on offering low-priced goods in rural and suburban communities.

What Were Some Key Innovations in Walmart’s History?

  • Walmart introduced several innovations, including the Walmart cheer in 1975, the launch of the first Sam’s Club in 1983, and the introduction of computerized Point of Sale (POS) systems. These innovations helped Walmart to stand out and grow.

When Did Walmart Become the Nation’s Top Retailer?

  • By 1990, just 28 years after its founding, Walmart had become the nation’s number one retailer, showcasing its rapid ascent in the retail industry.

How Has Walmart Expanded Internationally?

  • Walmart’s international expansion began in 1991 with the opening of a Sam’s Club in Mexico City. Since then, Walmart has continued to grow globally, entering markets like Canada, China, and South Africa.

What Are Some Recent Developments at Walmart?

  • Recent developments include the launch of in 2000, the introduction of the $4 generic-drug prescription program in 2006, and the commitment to sustainable agriculture in 2011. In 2020, Walmart responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and launched the Walmart+ membership program.

What Is the Impact of Walmart on Local Businesses and the Economy?

  • Walmart’s impact on the retail sector and the economy is significant, both positively and negatively. While it has provided low-cost goods and job opportunities, it has also been a topic of discussion for its effect on local businesses and capitalist competition.

How Big Is Walmart Today?

  • As of the latest information, Walmart operates over 11,300 stores worldwide and employs over 2 million people. It also runs 599 Sam’s Club stores and earns approximately $1.8 million in profit per hour.

More About Walmart

Next, you’ll find links to valuable search results that can help you stay current with any new information about Walmart.

Company Website

A company’s website provides valuable information about its products, services, and corporate details. To learn more about Walmart, visit their website through the provided link.


Image searches offer an alternative perspective on Walmart, providing visual insights. To explore the latest images related to Walmart, visit the link below.


Documentaries comprehensively explore Walmart’s history, offering organized and in-depth information.

To gain insights, explore the latest search results for Walmart-related documentaries.

Walmart Executive Team

A management team bears responsibility for all aspects under its purview. In long-standing companies like Walmart, management evolves.

The provided link offers insights into current and past management teams, their achievements, and areas where they may have faced challenges.

Working at Walmart

Assessing employee reviews offers insights into a management team’s workforce treatment. Numerous legitimate negative reviews often signal managerial issues, highlighting the need for improved employee communication and engagement.

Conversely, a preponderance of positive reviews reflects practical management efforts in fostering a positive and supportive work environment.

See the link below to review feedback from employees.

Complaints and Lawsuits

Legitimate complaints and lawsuits can signal issues within a company’s management. Larger corporations often face more legal actions and complaints.

In today’s business landscape, social media provides a platform for open expression, enabling management teams to monitor online feedback, identify trends, and address valid complaints to enhance their operations.

See the link below to browse through complaints and lawsuits related to Walmart.

Company Profile

A company profile provides a comprehensive view of a company, including its mission, products, and services.

For detailed insights into Walmart, visit the link below to access in-depth information about the company’s operations and offerings.

Investment Outlook

For prospective Walmart investors, check the provided link for valuable data on stock information, prices, trends, and expert predictions to make informed decisions.


Books offer in-depth insights into Walmart’s history, past leaders, and their contributions to its success. Explore a wealth of knowledge on the company’s evolution and key figures.


To stay informed about Walmart, rely on news sources like Google News—access both current and archived stories using the provided link for comprehensive updates on the company’s developments.

See Google’s News Search Results Related to Walmart.


Videos provide valuable insights into Walmart. Watch for supplementary videos during your viewing, offering additional perspectives and insights.

See the Most Recent Videos Related to Walmart.

Featured Video


Walmart History

History of Walmart – Wikipedia

Walmart | History & Facts | Britannica

History of Walmart: Timeline and Facts – TheStreet

The History of Walmart – Feedough

Paul Sableman from St. Louis, MO, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons