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1980s

A Decade of Firsts

1980

Grand opening of store #315 in Oneonta, Alabama.

May. 1980

I’ve really enjoyed my recent trips to some of our... Read Letter

1980

Grand opening of store #296 in Dardanelle, Arkansas.

Aug. 1980

I’m reminded by the chart on my wall at an early hour... Read Letter

1980

Don Soderquist joins Walmart as executive vice president.

Sep. 1980

Greetings, my friends! Another month and another... Read Letter

Oct. 1980

GOOD ENOUGH IS NOT ENOUGH TODAY. Whatever your work... Read Letter

I get a lot of credit for things that our folks do...I wish the spotlight could be turned on them, individually and collectively, because they're the ones that do it for our customers. They do it every day."

Sam Walton

Jan. 1981

Big K Acquisition – A Major Opportunity For Wal-Mart My... Read Letter

Ol' Roy Dog Food

Ol’ Roy was Sam’s favorite hunting dog. When the English Setter died in 1981, Sam honored his old friend by placing his name and likeness on Walmart’s dog-food brand. Today, Ol’ Roy is the world’s leading pet food.

1981

The Sam Walton Community Scholarship fund awards its first 10 scholarships. This is just the beginning of a program that would award over $80 million in scholarships by 2010.

1981–1992

After nearly 20 years, Walmart dropped the frontier feel of the logo and introduced a fresh new look.

1981

Stores open in Georgia and South Carolina.

Aug. 1981

A hearty WELCOME to our Big K associates who are now on... Read Letter

1981

Sam and Helen during a Shareholders float trip.

Sep. 1981

On this Tuesday evening, I’m flying to Bentonville from... Read Letter

1981

Walmart acquires 92 Kuhn's Big K stores.

1981

The company's 510,000-square-foot distribution center, the largest yet, opens in Palestine, Texas.

At Walmart, we believe we're at our best when we promote diversity across our supply chain.

Doug McMillon

1981

In October, the company opens its first photo-processing plant in Terrell, Texas.

Dec. 1981

Once more, members of my Wal-Mart Family, it’s my... Read Letter

1981

There are approximately 41,000 associates in 491 stores. Annual sales reach $2.4 billion.

1982

When Ferold Arend began working for Sam Walton in 1966, only a handful of Walmart stores existed. When he retired in 1982, there were more than 500 stores spread throughout 14 states. Ferold's operational leadership and keen sense of organization were key to expansion.

From Ferold Arend's Desk

Ferold Arend's pen and calendar desk set, as well as a pair of his glasses, are now part of the Walmart Heritage Archives in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Jun. 1982

It appears now on this first day of June that May has... Read Letter

1982

Stores open in Florida and Nebraska.

1982

Walmart's 20th anniversary marks $3.4 billion in annual sales.

1983

The first Sam's Club opens in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Little Known Sparks

In 1996, Walmart and Sam’s Club launched which kind of stores?

Walmart and Sam's Club launched online stores in 1996.

1983

Ron Loveless becomes the first general manager of Sam's Club.

1983

New stores open in Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

1983

People greeters make their first appearance at the front doors of Walmart stores.

Jul. 1983

This is my third and final attempt to do my Wal-Mart... Read Letter

1983

Walmart's first in-store, one-hour photo lab opens in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1983

Walmart acquires U.S. Woolco Stores.

1983

Bentonville holds an Appreciation Day celebration for Sam and Helen Walton.

1983

Walmart earns $4.7 billion in annual sales; it has 62,000 associates.

1983

Walmart begins using Universal Product Codes (UPC, or barcodes) at its checkout registers. The barcodes allow Walmart to make sure products stay in stock.

The more they know, the more they'll understand. The more they understand, the more they'll care. Once they care, there's no stopping them.

Sam Walton

1983

Walmart replaces its old cash registers with a computerized point-of-sale (POS) system that allows customers to check out quickly and accurately.

Feb. 1984

We’ve just completed one very excellent Annual Wal-Mart... Read Letter

1984

David Glass is named company president.

1984

Sam Walton keeps his promise to dance the hula on Wall Street if the company achieves a pretax annual profit of 8 percent.

Celebrate your success and find humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and everyone around you will loosen up. Have fun and always show enthusiasm. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song.

Sam Walton

1984

Walmart expands into Virginia.

Jul. 1984

WAL-MART: Change-Flexibility-Innovation-Opportunity... Read Letter

1984

The first of three Helen's Arts and Crafts stores opens in Springfield, Missouri.

1984

Store associates start using Texlon handheld terminals when reordering merchandise. Upon scanning a shelf label, the unit provides a description of the merchandise, information on previous quantities ordered, and other data.

Listen to your associates. The folks on the front line—the ones who actually talk to the customer—are the only ones who really know what's going on out there.

Sam Walton

It's more important than ever that we develop leaders who are servants and who are listening to their partners, their associates and doing it in an exceptional way that they're creating wonderful morale so the whole team will accomplish the overall goal.

Sam Walton

1984

Annual sales reach $6.4 billion.

1984

A Human Resources System is implemented to help each associate develop his or her potential and to provide a current profile.

Nov. 1984

My Wal-Mart Partners and Associates: The following... Read Letter

1984

Ferold retires and is widely known for his philanthropic generosity as the founding donor of the Arend Arts Center in Bentonville, Arkansas.

1984

Walmart's Data Communications Department establishes a 24-hour help desk.

1984

In 1984, Sam promised to “do a Hula on Wall Street” if Walmart achieved an 8 percent pretax profit. Though somewhat reluctant, he kept that promise.

Play Video

1985

Walmart stock splits 100 percent for the seventh time; shares sell at $49.75.

1985

Touchstones of Walmart Culture

View Exhibit

For us, treating our associates as important assets is not only right - it's second nature, something that's ingrained.

Sam Walton

Feb. 1985

My friends, partners and associates: 1984 is history –... Read Letter

1985

Sam Walton is named the richest man in America by Forbes.

Associate Pins

Launch 360 Experience

The barber chairs in which Sam and Bud Walton would get their hair cut for $5.

Jun. 1985

My Friends: I seem to be a little light on material this... Read Letter

1985

Walmart buys Grand Central Shoes.

Jul. 1985

On this early Tuesday morning, July 16th, I’m just... Read Letter

1985

The "Buy American" program is introduced.

Oct. 1985

I’ve just finished a memorandum to all management... Read Letter

Little Known Sparks

In what year did Walmart become a publicly traded company: ’70, ’80, or ’90?
In 1970, Walmart became a publicly traded company. The first stock sold at $16.50 per share.

1985

The Walton Institute is founded to educate Walmart store managers. Its mission continues today to help leaders in all parts of the company understand, navigate, and perpetuate Walmart culture.

1985

More than 104,000 associates are working in 882 stores, with sales of $8.4 billion.

1985

Expansion continues into Wisconsin and Colorado.

1985

Walmart's culture is rich and varied. But it's defined by the threads that tie it together—practicing servant leadership, listening to the associates, and making sure the customer is #1.

Play Video

1985

Executive Bob Hart at a Walmart Holiday meeting.

Feb. 1986

I'm in the middle of a western swing through our... Read Letter

One of our objectives should be to have zero complaints in our stores and make all of our customers feel so good about coming into our stores.

Sam Walton

1986

Walmart opens stores in Minnesota.

1986

Beaver Lake Aviation FBO (Fixed Base Operator) becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Little Known Sparks

When did Walmart become the largest private employer in the world: ’99, ’01, or ’05?
In 1999, Walmart became the largest private employer in the world.

Jul. 1986

I'd like to say that we're a diverse collection of... Read Letter

Aug. 1986

This 1986 year is racing by at an unbelievable pace –... Read Letter

1986

Annual sales reach $11.9 billion.

1987

Walmart celebrates its 25th anniversary.

1987

Walmart begins a relationship with the Children’s Miracle Network; associates raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Network hospitals.

Walmart's 25th Anniversary

To commemorate this important milestone in 1987, Coca-Cola issued a special celebratory label, and Mattel made a limited edition of a “Pink Jubilee Barbie” doll.

1987

The company completes the Walmart Satellite Network. The largest private satellite communication system in the United States, it links all the company's operating units and the Home Office with two-way voice, data, and one-way video communication.

1987

In December, the first Walmart Hypermart U.S.A. opens its doors in Garland, Texas; the second Hypermart opens a month later.

1987

In December, the first Walmart Hypermart U.S.A. opens its doors in Garland, Texas; the second Hypermart opens a month later.

It is integrity that has made our company what it is today.

Ferold Arend

1987

Walmart's "store-within-a-store" tool is successfully implemented.

1987

Walmart has 1,198 stores in 23 states with 200,000 associates, and $15.9 billion in sales.

1988

By the end of the year, 90 percent of Walmart stores have barcode-scanning capabilities.

Feb. 1988

If we truly have a "secret" for this Wal-Mart... Read Letter

1988

Carolyn "Boo" Randolph, as Shirley Shrinkage, at a shareholders meeting.

1988

The first Supercenter opens in Washington, Missouri in March.

Brands and Acquisition

The company continued to expand its product lines by packaging its own brands and acquiring new stores, including the Mohr Value chain and the Hutcheson Shoe Company.

1988

The first Supercenter opens in Washington, Missouri.

1988

Walmart buys Super Saver stores.

We swim upstream, and it makes us strong and lean and alert.

Sam Walton

1988

David Glass is named chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

1988

Family Legacy: The Walton Family Foundation

View Exhibit

1988

Walmart now has 16 distribution centers up and running.

Jul. 1988

Times change; people may change, but there's one... Read Letter

1988

There are 105 Sam's Clubs.

1988

The first 110,000-square-foot Walmart prototype opens in Gonzales, Louisiana.

1988

Annual sales reach $20.6 billion.

Sep. 1988

Friends, I'm just returning on this beautiful fall day... Read Letter

1988

Walmart changes its Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) from PCs to the IBM mainframe. The EDI system allows Walmart to process invoices from receipt to payment automatically and to speed the movement of goods from vendors to stores.

The bottom line in our stores is customer satisfaction.

Sam Walton

Nov. 1988

One year – 1988 – is about to wind down as we approach... Read Letter

Dec. 1988

Another Year Coming to a Close: “You’ve Done Good!”... Read Letter

Feb. 1989

We Must Continue to Improve in 1989 By Sam M. Walton,... Read Letter

1989

With the addition of operations in Michigan, West Virginia, and Wyoming, Walmart now has 1,528 stores (including 123 Sam's Clubs and 3 Hypermarts).

1989

Sam and Alice Walton with Charles Cate in Conway, Arkansas.

Jun. 1989

By Sam Walton, Chairman I’ve had a real good week. I’ve... Read Letter

Aug. 1989

Exceeding Our Customers’ Expectations By Sam Walton,... Read Letter

By the Numbers

By 1989, Walmart has grown to 1,528 stores, including 123 Sam's Clubs. The company employs 275,000 associates. Annual sales increase to nearly $26 billion.

Nov. 1989

Customer Service is Our Key to the Future I recently... Read Letter

Let's go for it! Let's take care of our associates, let's take care of our people and they'll take care of our customers. They'll exceed our customer's expectations and they'll carry us all on their shoulders. And many of them will rise in our company.

Sam Walton