Quotes Archive

What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?

- Sam Walton

When we had seventy-five stores in Arkansas, seventy-five in Missouri, eighty in Oklahoma, whatever, people knew who we were, and everybody except the merchants who weren’t discounting looked forward to our coming to their town.

- Sam Walton

Why do I drive a truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?

- Sam Walton

You can learn from everybody.

- Sam Walton

You can make a lot of mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.

- Sam Walton

You can make a positive out of the most negative if you work at it hard enough.

- Sam Walton

Today’s stock price is X, tommorrow’s is up to you.

- Sam Walton

Too often, that solution is nothing more than adding another layer. What you should be doing is going to the source of the problem to fix it, and sometimes that requires shooting the culprit,

- Sam Walton

Wal-Mart became Wal-Mart by ordinary people joined together to accomplish extraordinary things.

- Sam Walton

We decided that instead of avoiding our competitors, or waiting for them to come to us, we would meet them head-on. It was one of the smartest strategic decisions we ever made. In fact, if our story doesn’t prove anything else about the free market system, it erases any doubt that spirited competition is good for business – not just for customers, but the companies which have to compete with one another too. Our competitors have honed and sharpened us to an edge we wouldn’t have with out them. We wouldn’t be nearly as good as we are today without Kmart, and I think they would admit we’ve made them a better retailer. One reason Sears fell so far off the pace is that they wouldn’t admit for the longest time that Wal-Mart and Kmart were their real competition. They ignored both of us, and we both blew right by them.

- Sam Walton

We got so much better so quickly it was hard to believe. We totally stood Kmart off in those small towns of ours. Almost from the beginning, they weren’t very successful at taking our customers away in Jeff City and Poplar Bluff. Once Kmart arrived, we worked even harder at pleasing our customers, and they stayed loyal. This gave us a great surge of confidence in ourselves. But at that time our sales were 5 percent of Kmart’s. (through competition) Wal-Mart has lowered the gross margin in retailing from around 35 percent in the early 60s to only 22 percent today.

- Sam Walton

We let folks know we’re interested in them and that they’re vital to us. cause they are.

- Sam Walton

We’re all working together, that’s the secret.

- Sam Walton

Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.

- Sam Walton

The bigger we get as a company, the more important it becomes for us to shift responsibility and authority toward the front lines, toward the department manager who’s stocking the shelves and talking to the customer. When we were much smaller, I probably wasn’t as quick to catch on to this idea as I do should have been. But as an avid student of management theory, back in the mid-seventies I started reading the work of W. Edwards Deming, the famous statistician who taught so much to the Japanese about improving their productivity and competitiveness.

- Sam Walton

The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say.

- Sam Walton

The more you know, the more you care.

- Sam Walton

The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers

- Sam Walton

No question about it, alot of my attitude towards money stems from growing up during a pretty hardscrabble time in our country’s history: the Great Depression.

- Sam Walton

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.

- Sam Walton

Nobody wanted to gamble on that first Wal-Mart. I think Bud put in 3 percent, and Don Whitaker – whom I had hired to manage the store from TG&Y store out in Abilene, Texas, and I had to put up 95 percent of the dollars. Helen and I had to sign all the notes along with me, and her statement allowed us to borrow more than I could alone. We pledges houses and property, everything we had.. But in those days we were always borrowed to the hilt. We were about to go into the discount business for real now. And from the time those doggone Wal-Marts opened until almost today, it has been a little challenging.

- Sam Walton

They (the competition) need to avoid coming at us head-on, and do their own thing better than we do ours. It doesn’t make any sense to try to underprice Wal-Mart (DJC) on something like toothpaste (DJ Prices). That’s not what the customer is looking to a small store for anyway. Most independents are best off, I think, doing what I prided myself on doing for many years as a storekeeper, getting out on the floor and meeting everyone of the customers. Let them know how much you appreciate them, and ring that cash register yourself. That little personal touch is so important for an independent merchant because no matter how hard Wal-Mart tries to duplicate – and we try awfully hard – we can’t really do it.

- Sam Walton

Not long ago somebody showed me an article written for a local magazine in 1960. IT was called Success Story of the Year, and it described how we had built up an empire of nine variety stores. Then it quoted me as saying that we probably wouldn’t grow much more because I believed in personally supervising the nine-store group, and I thought any more stores would be unwieldy to manager without additional supervisors. So what the heck happened? How did we ever get to be the largest retailer in the world with a philosophy like that?

- Sam Walton

They need to avoid coming at us head-on, and do their own thing better than we do ours. It doesn’t make any sense to try to underprice Walmart on something like toothpaste. That’s not what they customer is looking to a small store for anyway. Most independents are best off, I think, doing what I prided myself on doing for many years as a storekeeper, getting out front on the door and meeting everyone of the customers. Let them know how much you appreciate them, and that register yourself. That little personal touch is so important for an independent merchant because no matter how hard Walmart tries to duplicate, ad we try awfully hard, we can’t really do it.

- Sam Walton

Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.

- Sam Walton

To succeed in this world, you have to change all the time.

- Sam Walton

Of course I needed somebody to run my new store, and I didn’t have much money, so I did something that I would do for the rest of my run in the retail business without any shame or embarrassment whatsoever: nose around other people’s stores searching for good talent. That’s when I made my first real hire, the first manager, Willard Walker.

- Sam Walton

One person seeking glory doesn’t accomplish very much.

- Sam Walton

Our minds were freewheeling. We rushed to get things done.

- Sam Walton

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.

- Sam Walton

Satisfied, loyal and repeat customers are at the heart of Walmart’s spectacular profit margins, and those customers are loyal to us because our associates treat them better than salespeople in other stores do. So, in the whole Wal-Mart scheme of things, the most important contact ever made is between the associated in the store and the customer. I didn’t catch on to that idea for quite a while. In fact, the biggest single regret in my whole business career is that we didn’t include our associates in the initial, managers-only profit-sharing plan when we took the company public in 1970. But there was nobody around preaching that philosophy in those days, and I guess I was just too worried about my own debt, and in too big a hurry to get somewhere fast. Today, some of our company’s critics would like everybody to believe we started our profit-sharing program and other benefits merely as away to stave off union organizing.

- Sam Walton

Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score.”

- Sam Walton

Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.

- Sam Walton

Many of our best opportunities were created out of necessity. The things that we were forced to learn and do, because we started out underfinanced and undercapitalized in these remote small communities, contributed mightily to the way we’ve grown as a company. Had we been capitalized, or had we been the offshoot of a large corporation the way I wanted to be, we might not ever have tried…

- Sam Walton

If you had to boil down the Wal-Mart system to one single idea, it would porbably be communication, because it is one of the real keys to our success…Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

- Sam Walton

Maybe I was born to be a merchant, maybe it was fate. I don’t know about that. But I know this for sure: I loved retail from the very beginning.

- Sam Walton

If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you—like a fever.

- Sam Walton

Mike suggested that we might want to turn our stockholders’ meetings into an event, and we went along with him.

- Sam Walton

If you take someone who lacks the experience and the know-how but has the real desire and the willingness to work his tail off to get the job done, he’ll make up for what he lacks. And that proved true nine times out of ten. It was one way we were able to grow so fast.

- Sam Walton

Most of us don’t invent ideas. We take the best ideas from someone else.

- Sam Walton

If you want a successful business, your people must feel that you are working for them—not that they are working for you.

- Sam Walton

My role has been to pick good people and give them the maximum authority and responsibility.

- Sam Walton

If you want the people in the stores to take care of the customers, you have to make sure you’re taking care of the people in the stores. That’s the most important single ingredient of Wal-Mart’s success.

- Sam Walton

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.

- Sam Walton

In fact, when I look at it today, I realize that so much of what we did in the beginning was really poorly done. But we managed to sell our merchandise as low as we possibly could, and that kept us right-side-up for the first 10 years – that and consistently improving sales in these smaller markets by buildling up our relationship with the customers. The ideas was simple: when customers thought of Wal-Mart, they should think of low prices and satisfaction guaranteed.

- Sam Walton

In the beginning, I was so chintzy I really didn’t pay my employees well.

- Sam Walton

In the years to come, that lure of partnership helped us attract a lot of good managers, but I don’t believe that we ever had one who bought more stock than Willard. And of course he feels pretty good about it today. – Sam Walton (on human resources, hiring, early history of Wal-Mart)

- Sam Walton

It is unhealthy to marinate in your own press clippings.

- Sam Walton

It’s absolutely a necessary and inevitable evolution in retailing (of Wal-Mart putting small stores out of business), as inevitable as the replacement of the buggy by the car, and the dissappearance of the buggy whip makers. The small stores (and DJs) were destined to dissappear, at least in the numbers they once existed., because the whole thing is driven by customers, who are free to choose where to shop.

- Sam Walton

Job security lasts only as long as the customer is satisfied. Nobody owes anybody else a living.

- Sam Walton

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