Say what you will about Walmart (and there’s a lot to be said) but, it’s hard to deny its massive success.
In 1950 – Walton’s 5 and 10 opened in Bentonville. Arkansas. A modest storefront on the downtown square was just what the Walton family wanted after moving to town. But, Walton was not destined to settle for just one small store. He was a dreamer and a guy with big ideas.
The first Walmart store would open in 1962 in nearby Rogers, Arkansas.
Today, the original Walmart museum – which is located inside the walls of that first 5 and 10 store – pays tribute to the genius of its founder, Sam Walton. Mr. Walton will go down as one of the most brilliant people in American history. Not only did he figure out how to turn a small Arkansas shop into a billion dollar business – he exceeded at just about anything he tried.
Walton wasn’t afraid to try anything. He also wasn’t afraid to attempt what many probably said was impossible. Take for example, the time he taught himself to fly with nothing more than a book. Today, we’d call the authorities if you hopped in an airplane having only read a how-to book. But, Walton did – and he figured out how to fly.
The Original Walmart Museum has exhibits that show products from the early days of the retail giant – some you may recognize if you’ve been around long enough to witness Walmart’s rise. The museum also has Mr. Walton’s office – still in tact.
While it’s not a huge building, it still packs in plenty of stories told through video and interactive kiosks. You’ll learn about his business ideas including how to save money on everyday essentials. My favorite example – you’ll learn how he saved money on floor tiles by not only buying them in bulk, but by purchasing colors that didn’t exactly match. (And let’s be honest – how many times do you walk into a store and care about the colors of the floor tile?)
The gift shop has a variety of Walmart themed gifts – which didn’t seem to be flying off the shelf, but I suppose you might have a burning desire for a Walmart magnet, or miniature shopping cart. Don’t miss the old time soda fountain/ice cream shop at the corner when you wrap up your tour!
Admission is free. Parking is available on the square or along nearby city streets. Lunch time and dinner time can be busy with limited spaces.
Bentonville is a lovely town with a great vibe and lots to see and do. Check out this recent post on ways to spend 24 hours in town!