Walmart is the flagship brand name of Walmart Inc.,note the largest discount store chain in the world, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. It operates in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Argentina, Africa (under Massmart), China, and Japan (as Seiyu and other brands). It also owned Asda in the UK for a bit over 20 years after purchasing it in 1999, selling most of its stake to a British group in 2020 - however, it retains a minority stake in the company and thus still has somewhat of a presence over there. One of their most notable failed expansions was into Germany, which failed not because Germans dislike the concept per se,note but because others (like Aldi) were cheaper and had a long established customer base. Although highly popular, it is criticized for a number of things, most notably the fact that, at least in the US and Canada, it is vociferously anti-union, with low pay and benefits, even compared to its competitors.
The first Walmart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962 by founder Sam Walton. Today, it's practically the archetype of the big box development in Suburbia, with over 4,000 stores in the U.S., most of which are Supercenters (a combination of discount store and supermarket), and the big box style popularised by Walmart is now used by other store chains the world over. It also operates a sister wholesale club chain, Sam's Club.
The chain has also developed Walmart Express, a smaller version whose main intent is to serve markets too small for a full-sized Walmart while still offering many of the same services, and Walmart Neighborhood Market, a grocery-only store.
A little-known fact about Walmart is that the Supercenter concept spawned from a Flawed Prototype called Hypermart USA, which was deemed too inefficient, and collapsed after building only five locations.note
References to Walmart in media include...
- In the book of Where the Heart Is, main character Novalee Nation (who is almost full-term pregnant) is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Walmart, with almost no money to her name, and literally only the clothes she is wearing. Out of desperation, she concocts a plan to hide in the store until the staff leaves (this was back during the era when most smaller Walmarts didn't have an overnight stocking crew) and spend the night there. When she can't figure out a plan the next day, she decides to live in the store at night, using items such as air mattresses and sleeping bags to have a modicum of comfort, and eating food from the grocery section. After a few weeks, she ends up going into labor and delivering her child right in the store, and since she's not able to put everything she was using that night back like she usually does, she's found out. Sam Walton visits her in the hospital, and, thinking that she's in trouble, Novalee shows him the notebook she kept, which has a record of every item she used, and asks for a chance to pay him back. He surprises her by forgiving the debt, pointing out that her story is the kind any company would kill to have; she was able to find everything she needed to be comfortable in his store, and it's a huge publicity coup for Walmart. He also tells her she has a job waiting when she's recovered from giving birth, and wishes her luck before leaving.
- A thinly veiled parody of Walmart can be seen in the South Park Season 8 episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes".note
- The Onion spoofed Walmart's lower-class reputation in the video "Hostages Trapped Inside Walmart Insisting They Never Shop At Walmart". During a hostage standoff at a Walmart in Dearborn, Michigan, everybody involved is less interested in the crisis itself than the fact that they were caught inside a Walmart: hostages who make excuses for why they were shopping there, the gunman who demands that the media call him the "Department Store Killer" and insists that he only ever worked there to pay for dental school, Walmart's corporate PR department who takes pains to point out that their office is in fact very nice and that they themselves don't actually shop at their own stores, and even the reporters covering the story, who insist that they've never been inside a Walmart and that they're only there to cover the hostage situation.
Brian Scott: Andrea, the gunman has reportedly corralled all the hostages into the back of the Walmart near the TVs, which they apparently sell there. I wouldn't know.
Andrea Bennett: No, me neither.
- Parodied in The Fairly Oddparents as the Wall-2-Wall-Mart. Unlike the usual stigma, here it's portrayed as a genuinely massive We Sell Everything megacenter, with security having a helicopter division.