â€œNo one better personified the vitality of the American Dream in the second half of the 20th century than Sam Walton.â€ (Time Inc.) Walton was raised in the Depression Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and Missouri. At a young age he began to show signs of leadership and aspiration. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout early in his life, and was quarterback of the Missouri state-champion high school football team. Due to the lack of money he helped support his economically besieged family by delivering newspapers and selling milk from the cow. He enrolled at the University of Missouri. After graduation he served in the army during World War II. In 1945 he returned home to earn a living and start a family in an uncertain peacetime economy.
Sam Walton possessed a gift enabling him to foresee where the market was headed. Walton did not invent discount retailing, but by his great pursuit of discounting, he revolutionized the service economy. Not only did he change how America shopped, he initiated the shift of power from manufacturer to consumer. .
During the 1950â€™s discounting was extremely controversial. It threatened control of the market. Therefore, manufacturers and traditional retailers hated it. A majority of the states placed restrictions on the practice. .
Operating 15 variety stores mostly in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, Walton was fairly rich. His small town stores sold goods at a high mark up. His family vacations consisted of visiting his stores. While traveling, he noticed Herb Gibson, a barber, establishing discount stores outside the towns where he had his located. At this point he took notice to the forthcoming change. In 1962 he opened the first Wal-Mart. That same year, stores K Mart, Woolco, and Target were launched. Discounting had begun in a big way.
Lacking financial assistance, Walton was forced to commit himself fully to discounting. His goal of driving prices down in every possible way was a campaign that would last the rest of his life.