It's easy to forget now, but Wal-Mart wasn't always the dominant discount retailer in the world. As late as 1979, the Bentonville chain arguably wasn't even the dominant Arkansas discounter. That effectively changed the morning of Friday, Dec. 21, 1979, when a Cessna 421 twin-engine plane carrying three vice presidents of Sterling Stores Inc. slammed into a fog-covered hill 4 miles southwest of Locust Grove, near Batesville.
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