In 1992, upon the death of founder Sam Walton his successors on the board of Wal-mart committed the long-term future of the retailer to American-made merchandise.
Wal-mart People save America By Ed & Jen GreenupWalton began his retail career in 1940 at a JC Penney store in Des Moines, Iowa. Five years later came his big breakthrough when he met Butler Brothers, a regional retailer. He was offered a store in Newport, Arkansas. But unable to agree a renewal on the lease, he opened a new franchise called "Walton's Five and Dime". In 1962 he opened the first Wal-Mart Discount City and within five years, the company expanded to twenty-four stores across Arkansas turning over $12.6 million in sales.
Key to his success in achieving higher sales volume was a pricing strategy of marking up products slightly less than his competitors who accused Walton of "running them out of town". By the time Walton tried to expand out of Arkansas, emerging markets were beginning to threaten to run America itself out of the global market place. But he stuck doggedly to his core belief in "buying American" insisting that Wal-Mart stores only sold American-made products.
After his death the policy of "Made in U.S.A". gave the retailer huge competitive problems. Advocates of NAFTA also had a big headache. Because opponents of the agreement used Wal-mart as a case study for arguing against "Made in China" products dominating Main Street.