The Spread of Walmart


Walmart’s annual revenue is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Switzerland — and Norway, and 155 other countries.

Walmart is one of the largest private employers in the world, and the largest company in the world by revenue. With 11,000 stores (counting all retail units) and more than 2.2 million associates, Walmart is a retail behemoth.

It all started with Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin franchise. He had a vision of a discount store chain, and while he had trouble convincing people that it would work, he had no trouble showing people that he was right.

The Ben Franklin franchise wouldn’t agree to allow Walton to cut margins and offer deep discounts, so in 1962, Walton opened the first Walmart store. He and his wife put up 95% of the stake, and he traveled the country to learn all he could about discount retail.

Sam Walton’s idea was to open stores in small towns and to offer merchandise at the lowest possible price. His skill at keeping costs down, together with a forward-thinking attitude toward technology and logistics, made Walmart nearly impossible for local stores to compete with.

In 1969, Walmart incorporated. By 1976, Walton closed his franchise stores and focused entirely on Walmart. By 1980, Walmart reached $1 billion in sales. Stores continued to open all across the country.

In 1988, the first Supercenter opened. By 1993, every state but Vermont had a Walmart store, and Walmart was going global. In 1995, Walmart opened in Vermont and in 1996, Walmart China was born.

By 2000, Walmart was the largest private employer in the world.

Walmart continues to open new stores, with more than a dozen new retail locations so far this month. The corporate announcement of each store is the same: “Walmart Brings Convenience, Affordable Grocery Options and New Jobs to…” followed by the name of the most recent lucky town.