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  

• Another competitor goes the way of the dodo as Wal-Mart exchanges almost $13 million in stock to absorb 92 Kuhn’s-Big K stores in a merger.

• Clarence Archer is hired to establish Wal-Mart’s pharmacy division. When he retires 18 years later, the division has 2,200 in-store pharmacies, five dedicated warehouses for pharmaceuticals and a staff of 200 at headquarters. By 2006, the company’s 3,500 pharmacies are creating $11 billion in revenue.

• The company updates its logo to simple block letters.


• May’s sales of $284 million represent a 56 percent increase over May 1981.

• Wal-Mart announces another stock split in June, its fifth in 11 years.

• Sam and Helen Walton show more love for the University of Arkansas, announcing “substantial donations” will be made during the next seven years to help finance a combined performing arts and business conference center on the Fayetteville campus. The Waltons — along with another Arkansas power couple, Jack and Mary Anne Stephens — are also named recipients of the Fulbright College Medallion from the university’s J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences, for their services to the college’s advancement.

• Sam Walton, now 64, is treated for leukemia.

• Dun & Bradstreet declares Wal-Mart “one of the five best-managed companies of 1982,” ranking it with IBM, Anheuser-Busch, Bristol-Meyers and Hospital Corp. of America. D&B cites “its abiding faith in detailed, grassroots management [which] led its industry in every measure of profitability.”


• In an Arkansas Gazette feature story on country stores in rural Arkansas towns like Parthenon (Newton County), Clear Springs (Pike County) and Gilbert (Searcy County), one owner blames their decline on an inability to compete with supermarkets. They ain’t seen nothin’ yet: Five years later, the first Wal-Mart Supercenter, combining grocery and general merchandise, opens in Missouri.

• The first Sam’s Wholesale Club opens in Midwest City, Okla.



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