About the 5&10
In 1950, the Walton family – Sam and Helen, sons, Rob, John, and Jim, and daughter Alice – moved to Bentonville in northwest Arkansas from the eastern side of the state. According to Sam, the town was small enough to satisfy Helen’s need for small-town living. According to Helen, it situated the family within a short driving distance of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas – where Sam could enjoy different seasons on the calendar to satisfy his passion for quail hunting.
Moving to Bentonville allowed Sam to purchase Luther Harrison’s Variety Store on the town’s central square. It was Sam’s second store, but the first to bear the Walton name. A Ben Franklin five-and-dime franchise, it was right next door to a space occupied by a barber shop – space that Sam acquired in 1951. Sam followed this expansion into the space next door with a remodeling sale that established Walton’s 5&10 as the huge success Sam knew it could be.
Today, visitors to The Walmart Museum can see the original tin ceiling tiles from Harrison’s Variety Store as well as the original red and green tiles that Sam laid down prior to the famous remodeling sale. If you look closely, you can see that the red and greens don’t all exactly match. Sam, you see, had been offered a better price on the batch of tiles if he accepted them “as is”. Sam knew that his customers wouldn’t be looking at his floor – or even care – as long as his prices were low and his shelves were well-stocked. Sam was a frugal man, but not just for the sake of frugality. He knew that saving money on expenses meant he could charge lower prices, saving his customers money so they could live better.