beginning of July is always a great time to reflect back on Walmart history.
After all, it was July 2, 1962, when Sam Walton opened his very first Walmart
discount store in Rogers, Arkansas.
This year, the Smithsonian has a special birthday present for
Walmart: Inclusion in the American Enterprise exhibit at
the National Museum of American History in Washington,
D.C. Open July 1, the exhibition “chronicles the tumultuous interaction of
capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continual remaking of American
business – and American life.”
The exhibition is an 8,000-square-foot space
“focused on the role of business and innovation from the mid-1700s to the
present.” So if you’re heading to our nation’s capital
this summer, take a look at where our country’s curators see Walmart’s place in
Before you visit, here
are a few things to know:
1. Sam’s Walton’s
This iconic piece of headgear is now on display in the Smithsonian. According
to Peter Liebhold, Chair and Curator, Division of Work and Industry, if an
artifact is in the Smithsonian archives, it’s officially in America’s
collective memory. Of the more than 3 million artifacts in the archives, only
about 1% are ever on display at one time. Sam’s cap is part of that 1%.
One other identical cap that’s been confirmed
to have been worn by Sam in his final days is located in his office, on display
at The Walmart Museum. Rob Walton donned
it at Walmart’s shareholders meeting last month.
2. Photo of
The photo of Sam Walton that accompanies the display of Sam’s trucker ball cap
is one that had been selected by associates in a Walmart World poll
to be their favorite. While in the photo he’s not wearing the hat that’s on
display, it was selected because of the disarming warmth the photo
Brewer, “Game Changer”
Also part of the American Enterprise exhibit is a video
of Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer. In this particular display, visitors select from a gallery of
business leaders that the Smithsonian’s curators deem “Game Changers.” For good
reason, Roz Brewer is included in the gallery, having been recognized
repeatedly as one of the world’s most influential businesspersons.
Walmart’s very first 50-year associate is featured in a timeline along with
other retail and industry employees out there on the front lines. Sadly, Valeda
passed away in 2012 in her hometown of Lebanon, Missouri, before her inclusion
in the Smithsonian.
5. Save money.
In its section on marketing and advertising, the American Enterprise exhibit
includes the best-known and most important taglines and slogans in the history
of the industry. Of all of them, SMLB stands out because of its simplicity and
its origin: Sam Walton.
In the “Green Business” section of the exhibit, a colorful and vibrant photo of
organic produce is on display as part of the story of the greening of American
Can’t make it this
summer? No worries. American Enterprise is a permanent
exhibition set to be open to the public for at least the next 20 years.
This post originally appeared on the Walmart Corporate blog, Walmart Today.