Sam Walton (1918-1992) was a self-made billionaire. In 1945, he bought a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas, and began to put his own innovative retail approach to work. He scoured the area with his pickup truck, buying up goods from anyone with a blowout offer to make. Then he sold them in his store, dirt-cheap. Merchandise flew off the floor. He’d make half the profit per item of comparable retailers, but sell three times as much and make a greater overall profit.
This simple but brilliant strategy enabled him to expand to fifteen stores in fifteen years’ time. Walton became the largest independent variety store operator in the U.S. When he started Wal-Mart in 1962, the lessons he learned from his success with Ben Franklin went with him.