When you come to Arkansas there should be someone standing on the border with Smiley face stickers that says, “Welcome to Walmart.”
Arkansas is the home of Walmart.
Here is an interesting story: When Mikee was doing his consulting work he worked with the people at Ann & Hope for a bit. (I remember when the Seekonk Ann & Hope opened up on route 6 -it was a big deal back when there was absolutely nothing on route 6 from Swansea all the way to East Providence except for the Seekonk Speedway and Seekonk Drive-In where Target is. Anyone else remember that? Does that make me sound old?) 😉
Ann & Hope was one of the first self-service department stores where customers could look at items without sales personnel and also was one of the first to use shopping carts in a department store. The original mill location also featured a large parking area, which was not common at the time, as well as a basement level with even more merchandise. A special carriage lift was operated by staff to get store patrons’ items from one floor to the other. (that was pretty cool) Other now-familiar features such as having a central checkout area and a liberal store return policy were also pioneered by Ann & Hope. Ann & Hope also had several features now common to big-box retail facilities. For example, some Ann & Hope stores had full scale cafeterias.
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, visited the Ann & Hope chain in 1961 and got the idea for Wal Mart here. The 2 men had a gentlemen’s agreement that as long as they were both alive and running the business Walmart would not come to the area and compete with Ann & Hope. Which they honored.
I met Rhonda when we lived in New York and she thought I fell off the banana truck in that I had never been to Walmart. We changed that up pretty quick. Some of my fav memories are hitting the Middletown Walmart with Rhonda Lou, grabbing our 35 cent Sam’s Colas and sometimes splurging with a stop at Cafe Miltenburg.