Best Sam Walton Quotes: Walmart Business, Retail Competition, Leaders

Wal-Mart Rehabilitates Its Image
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When Sam Walton was working his first "retail" job as a young boy, selling milk from the family cow door-to-door, it's unlikely that he had an idea that nearly a century later people would be googling "best Sam Walton quotes" in order to know what a kid working a milk route thought about retail competition, leadership, and the global retail phenomenon that we all know as the Walmart business.

No collection of quotations from famous retail leaders and U.S. retail industry founders would be complete without the quotable quotes from Sam Walton, who is arguably the most famous of the famous retail CEO rock stars. 

When Sam Walton opened Walton's Five and Dime in Bentonville, AK, it wasn't just the start of a retail business, it was the birth of a retail empire. Today the Walmart chain of retail stores has a global reach and the Walmart corporation is the largest retail company in the world.

These quotes from one of history's most famous retailing leaders and legendary retail icons will reveal what Walton was thinking and learning about the retail business as he was building the world famous Wal-Mart discount retail chain in the U.S.

Quotes From Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

  • "I probably have traveled and walked into more variety stores than anybody in America. I am just trying to get ideas, any kind of ideas that will help our company. Most of us don't invent ideas. We take the best ideas from someone else."
  • “Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.”
  • "The truth is when those Butler Brothers folks turned down my discounting idea, I got a little angry, and maybe that helped me decide to swim upstream on my own." [The Butler Brothers were the owners of the Ben Franklin retail chain, and Sam Walton was a Ben Franklin franchisee before he started his own discount retailing business.]
  • "The two most important words I ever wrote were on that first Wal-Mart sign, '‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’. They're still up there, and they have made all the difference."
  • "The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want. And really, if you think about it from the point of view of the customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of good quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; free parking; a pleasant shopping experience."
  •   “There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
  • “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.”
  • “Keep everybody guessing as to what your next trick is going to be. Don’t become too predictable.”
  • “Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.”
  • “Information is power, and the gain you get from empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitor.”
  • “A computer can tell you down the dime what you’ve sold. But it can never tell you how much you could have sold.”
  • “The folks on the front lines – the ones who actually talk to the customer – are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there.”
  • "I guess in all my years, what I heard more often than anything was: A town of less than 50,000 population cannot support a discount store for very long."
  • "There's a lot more business out there in small town America than I ever dreamed of."
  • “Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score.”
  • “Capital isn't scarce. Vision is.”