Wal-Mart at 50: A Not-So-Short History Of the World's Largest Retailer

by Eric Francis  on Monday, Jul. 2, 2012 12:00 am  

• The stock continues to struggle, closing at $9.50 on New Year’s Eve.


• The acquisition of three Howard stores gives the chain a new location in southwest Little Rock and its first in North Little Rock. Howard-Gibco Corp. of Texarkana had shuttered those stores as “unprofitable.” Wal-Mart promises to reopen them within 60 days, and the Fort Smith location within 90. This brings the total number of Wal-Marts to 102 in eight states.

• Wal-Mart stock fights its way back to $23 and splits for the third time in August.


• In this bicentennial year, Wal-Mart Chairman and CEO Ronald Mayer’s letter in the annual report lacks the warm fuzziness of later editions, or the cheerleader excitement of future shareholder meetings. But he does get down to business, noting that the just-ended fiscal year was the company’s most successful with $343 million in sales, an increase of 44 percent.


• “Since our first store was opened in Bentonville, we have experienced twenty-seven consecutive years of sales and earnings growth,” Sam Walton writes in the annual report. Net sales were nearly $479 million and net income $16.5 million from the 153 stores in the system.

• Wal-Mart buys 16 Mohr-Value stores in Michigan and Illinois.


• Whither comes a corporate culture? The title of Bethany E. Moreton’s essay, “It Came from Bentonville: The Agrarian Origins of Wal-Mart Culture,” pretty much says it all. The caption under a photo of an idyllic Ozark farmscape notes that during this era, “Small-scale farms supplied many of Wal-Marts’ early employees, both in management and in hourly positions.”

• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. buys the Hutcheson Shoe Co. of Fort Smith.



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