Message from Sam Walton
I’m reminded by the chart on my wall at an early hour on this July morning that we now have 290 Wal-marts on the street. Two hundred seventy-six was the number at year-end 1/31/80, so we have been busy for these first six months of 1980. Our last two were two excellent stores - one in Belton, Mo. a suburb to the south of Kansas City – George Gross, Manager and Assistant Managers – Cynthia Stevens, Darryl Gunn, and Daniel Stites; the other about as far west and south as we’ve ever gone = Gonzales, Tx. – with our indomitable Sue Jones as Manager, and her able assistants – Dennis Turner and Mike Rowley. Grapevine, Tx. – just north of Fort Worth – opened the precious week with Wayne Rodgers as Manager, and Assistant Managers John Hachmann, Dennis Stevenson and Patty Maledy, and also had great opening sales in spite of the current heat wave!
Yes… we’ve been on a fast track during this first six months of 1980, but when we realize we still have about 30 stores to open in the next five months, it makes me realize that we’ll all be looking at another sizable challenge for these last two quarters of 1980. I’m confident, though, that out Wal-Mart people will meet that challenge of getting in this number of new stores, as well as an equally important part of our program of expanding and remodeling our existing stores. Did you know that the following stores have either been completely remodeled, relocated or expanded in these first 6 months? Litchfield, IL; Rogers, AR; Farmington, MO; Grove, OK; Jacksonville, AR; Poplar Bluff, MO; Monett, MO; Rolla, Mo; Mt. Vernon, IL; Cape Girardeau, MO; Poteau, OK; Russellville, AR Ruston, LA; Brownsville, TN; Millington, TN; Shawnee, OK; No. 138 Springfield, MO. What a job our Store Opening Division continues to do, as well as all those wonderful assistant managers and department heads that so ably assist us with all our new stores and our remodeling. I know you all join me in expressing our sincere thanks for the great job they’re doing for Wal-Mart. All the above has been, and along with it, we’ve been able to maintain an excellent sales and profit trend, even with a full-blown recession hitting the United States and some of our areas in particular.
I’m really happy to report that we had excellent results in May, with sales being up a strong 32 percent totally and 12 percent in comparable stores. June also has been good, but because of one less day this year than last, as well as due to trading a Friday and Saturday in 1979 for a Sunday and Monday in 1980, we were only up about 25 percent for the month and 8 percent in same stores. It appears now that our program and sales trend should continue reasonably strong for the balance of the year. I’m sure most of you realize that we’re one of the few retail companies in America that are reporting a strong increasing sales trend. Sears, Penneys, Wards, and most discounters are either flat or down in sales.
So let’s don’t let up – throughout our Company – keep talking with one another, thinking of even better ways to please and serve our customers. As I often say, our customers are our real “boss” - they actually vote for or against us each day, and we all play an important role in what that decision will be.
We had a great Annual Meeting Again this year in June here in Bentonville, Ar. We had over 500 Wal-Mart stockholders and visiting financial analysts, bankers and friends attending… largest crowd ever by at least double previous meetings, A new wrinkle this year was the Government and Business Seminar held on Saturday morning, attended by Gene Taylor, Congressman from Missouri, and John Paul Hammerschmidt from Harrison, Ar. They did a great job. Then Governor Bill Clinton, Arkansas’ outstanding governor, attended and also spoke briefly at our Stockholders Meeting.
We had some very excellent presentations made by President Jack Shewmaker, Executive Vice President David Glass, and Senior Vice President Rob Walton. But for me, the highlight of the meeting had to be the fact that so many of our Wal-Mart associates who are stockholders were able to attend. I know they also thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and especially have a firsthand opportunity to learn more about our Company. Hopefully next year we can expand this program to include even more of our associates from other farther out stores. Again, as I occasionally do, I would urge any of you who can take advantage of our Wal-Mart Stock Purchase Plan. It’s a good one and would, I’m certain, be a great benefit for you and your family someday. As you know, Wal-Mart pays all our brokerage fees and 15 percent of the costs of the stock.
I’m more certain than ever – from my preferred vantage point – that Wal-Mart has only just begun. Even though we crossed that Billion Dollar threshold in 1979, I’m very positive that the 1980’s will see Wal-Mart write new and exciting chapters in Retailing that have never before been equaled.
Together we have that opportunity. We have tremendous management dedication, leadership and talent throughout our Company. We have over 22,000 wonderful associate-partners now, most of whom are on Profit Sharing and are Wal-Mart stockholders, as well. And additionally, we’re blessed with customers who believe and know that Wal-Mart is their store and that they will be treated fairly and honestly while shopping there.
All these ingredients are in place – it is pretty much up to all of us from this point on in the 80’s. The challenges will be many. The going will be tough at times, but I’m confident that we can, and will, become one of the real premier retail companies in America by year-end 1989.
Again, my friends, thanks for all you’re doing throughout our Company to support our programs. Best wishes.