My Childhood Walmart in Ruston, Louisiana
“Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?” – Sam Walton
Before there were cavernous Sam's Clubs or gleaming 24-hour Walmart supercenters or a global $450 billion a year retail juggernaut, there were a handful of Walmarts in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, etc. – all within a few hours drive of Sam Walton's hometown of Bentonville, AR.
I remember going to the Ruston Walmart on Saturday mornings (along with half the rest of our small north Louisiana town) with my parents to buy toilet paper and dog food and the occasional package of white tube-top socks (it was the 1970's after all).
I even remember pulling into the parking lot one morning and finding a crowd of people out in the parking lot. Apparently, the "owner" was in town to check on his store (i.e., Mr. Walton himself), and they were giving away free hotdogs and cokes.
As a shopper marketing agency, birdsong gregory keeps a close eye on what the largest retailer in the world (and the biggest grocery retailer in the U.S.) is doing in terms of merchandising and retail marketing.
(We're also currently helping a North Carolina based apparel manufacturer improve their brand presence at the shelf in all North American Walmarts!)
In terms of vision and ambition and achievement, Mr. Walton certainly sits in the same pantheon as Steve Jobs and other innovative American business paradigm shifters, but my favorite facet of his character is how he never forsook his humble roots or his small town pragmatism.