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 operated Asda in the UK for a bit over 20 years before selling out to a British group in 2020 (Walmart will keep a minority stake). 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 between discount store and supermarket). 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
Sadly, due to widespread mismanagement at the retail store level following the passing of Sam Walton, a lot of people (including both current and former employees) view it as the current Trope Codifier of Incompetence, Inc., having essentially succeeded WCW in said role. And that's all we're going to say on the matter!
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