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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:29:59
Typefacelarge in Small
"Competition is very definitely what made Wal-Martfrom the very beginning. There's not an individualin these whole United States who has been in more retail storesall types of retail stores too, not justdiscount storesthan Sam Walton. Make that all over the world. He's been in stores in Australia andSouth America, Europe and Asia and South Africa. His mind is just so inquisitive when it comes to thisbusiness. And there may not be anything he enjoys more than going into a competitor's store trying tolearn something from it."At first, we only butted heads with other regional discounters, like Gibson's and the Magic Mart discountdivision of Sterling. We didn't compete directly with Kmart. To put things into perspective, compareKmart and Wal-Mart after they had both been on the street for ten years. Our fifty-plus Wal-Marts andeleven variety stores were doing about million a year in sales compared to Kmart's five hundredstores doing more than billion a year. But Kmart had interested me ever since the first store went up in1962. I was in their stores constantly because they were the laboratory, and they were better than wewere. I spent a heck of a lot of my time wandering through their stores talking to their people and tryingto figure out how they did things.


"Another time, the chairman decided I was going to have to stand up there and sing 'Red River Valley' ata meeting three weeks away. He knew I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket but he made a bigger andbigger deal out of it every week until finally I had to put a group together to sing it so nobody would hearonly me. I always figured he just wanted to force me into doing something in public that I wasn't so goodat, and that way I had to eat a little humble pie. Anyway, I believe those meetings are managed fun, and Ithink the chairman manages them very discreetly. He knows when he wants it to be serious, and heknows when he wants it to be fun. Sometimes it's very democratic, and sometimes it's very dictatorial.



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