In the first quarter of 2016, Wal-Mart made $115.9 billion in revenue. During that same time, Sam's Club made $13.6 billion in revenue. Combined, that's almost $130 billion from two chains that happen to be owned by the same company: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. And all that comes from selling $1.98 boxes of Better Cheddar crackers and 36 boxes of Kleenex for $43.92. This low-cost empire is the vision of one Oklahoma-born man who believed that by cutting overhead, he could make billions. He was right. Here's the story of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.
Walton was born in the small town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma in 1918, the son of a banker. He was an Eagle Scout, student council president and quarterback of the state champion football team. In other words, an "all-American boy." After graduating from the University of Missouri, he became a management trainee with the J.C. Penney Company, which at the time was a relatively small regional department store. But on December 7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed. After that, like most men his age at the time, the twenty-three-year-old Walton became a soldier. He served as an Army captain and was discharged two days after Japan's surrender. Upon returning stateside and looking to go into the retail business, he convinced his father-in-law L.S. Robeson to lend him $20,000 so he could buy a Ben Franklin franchise, a cheap arts and craft variety store that still exists today. Walton (along with his brother) would go eventually own fifteen Ben Franklin franchises by the mid-1950s. However, Walton made an even more significant decision at that time, one which preserved - and later increased - his riches for years to come.