Sam's first store, in Newport, Arkansas, was part of the Ben Franklin variety store chain.
Sam and Helen Walton bought their first Ben Franklin variety store, in Newport, Arkansas, in 1945. Within five years, Sam had fulfilled his wish to make his store the top Ben Franklin franchise in the state. But when it came time to renew the lease, his landlord refused, wanting to give the store to his son. Sam and Helen were forced out and had to look for a new location.
Scouting around Northwest Arkansas, Sam found a small variety store in Bentonville, whose owner, Luther Harrison, was willing to sell. After negotiating the deal, the family moved to Bentonville and opened a new Ben Franklin variety store that Sam called Walton's 5&10. The date was May 9, 1950. Sam began an extensive remodeling program, which was completed in March 1951. He advertised his new store as the "most up-to-date, modern variety store in Northwest Arkansas."
Saturdays around Bentonville Square were something special. Dad always had something going on ... it seemed like we had a circus or carnival going on almost every weekend.
The Ben Franklin Years
After working with Sam for one and a half years at the Newport store, Bud and Audie Walton opened their own Ben Franklin in Versailles, Missouri, in 1947. After Sam’s move to Bentonville, the Walton brothers were able to expand to other towns with other stores. Eventually, they would operate Ben Franklin stores and Walton's Family Centers in 15 locations between 1950 and 1965.