History Timeline: Sam Walton and Wal-Mart

Written by Bobby Jan for Gaebler Ventures

One of the greatest titans of this century is Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. This timeline tells the story of the dramatic rise of Wal-Mart.

Regardless of whether you love or hate Wal-Mart, you have to agree that their growth has been spectacular.

It all started back in the 1960s. Here's the timeline that chronicles this amazing entrepreneurial success story.


  • 1921 - Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas.
  • 1967 - Sam opened 24 Wal-Mart stores in Arkansas.
  • 1968 - The first Wal-Mart store opened outside of Arkansas, in Sikeston, Missouri, and Claremore, Oklahoma.
  • October 31, 1969 - Wal-Mart was incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.


  • 1970 - The first Wal-Mart distribution center and home office opened in Bentonville, Arkansas. 15,000 employees working at 38 stores. Annual sales of $44.2 million. Wal-Mart went public and began trading in the over the counter market.
  • 1972 - Wal-Mart shares began trading in the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 1975 - Wal-Mart employed over 7,500 employees to operate 125 stores. Sales reached over $340 million. Wal-Mart made its first acquisition by acquiring 16 Mohr-Values
  • 1978 - Wal-Mart acquired Hutcheson Shoe Company and expanded its operations to include pharmacy, auto service, and jewelry retailing.
  • 1979 - Wal-Mart became the first company with sales of over $1 billion dollars a year. Wal-Mart operated in 11 states with 21,000 employees and 276 stores.


  • 1983 - The first Sams's Club opened in Midwest City, Oklahoma.
  • 1984 - Sam Walton did the Hula on Wall Street after promising employees that he would do so if Wal-Mart reached a pre-tax profit of 8%.
  • 1987 - Wal-Mart sales reached $15.9 billion and employees reached 200,000.
  • 1988 - The first Supercenter opened in Washington, Missouri


  • 1992 - Sam Walton received the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the United States.
  • April 5, 1992 - Sam Walton passed away.


Walmart is today's largest company by revenue and the largest private employer in the world. Its market capitalization is at over $225 billion. Wal-mart's annual net sales for the fiscal year 2007 was $374 billion.

Cheng Ming (Bobby) Jan is an Economics major at the University of Chicago who has a strong interest in entrepreneurship and investing.

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