The history of Wal-Mart can be traced back to the 1940s when Sam Walton began his career in retailing. After being interviewed by recruiters from both Sears Roebuck and JC Penney just before graduating from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Sam accepted a job offer from JC Penney. He began working at a JC Penney store in Des Moines, Iowa on June 3, 1940, making a salary of $75 a month. During his employment there, Sam was able to meet James Cash Penney, the department store’s founder, during a visit to the store. He remained at JC Penney for eighteen months.
In 1945, Sam met with Butler Brothers, a regional retailer that owned two franchise operations: a chain of department stores called Federated Stores, and a chain of variety stores called Ben Franklin. Butler Brothers offered Sam a Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. Unable to come to agreement on his lease renewal and unable to find a new location in Newport, Walton located a variety store in Bentonville, Arkansas which he would open as another Ben Franklin franchise, but called “Walton’s Five and Dime.”
As a typical businessman, he was always looking for better deals from his suppliers, and he realized that he could obtain higher sales volume by passing on the savings to his customers, instead of pocketing them. And in 1962, the first Wal-Mart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas. By 1967, the company grew to 24 stores across the state of Arkansas, and had reached $12.6 million in sales, and by 1968, the company opened its first stores outside of Arkansas in Sikeston, Missouri and Claremore, Oklahoma.