The town of Bentonville, Arkansas is known for a few things, but the most common is that it’s the world headquarters for the Wal-Mart Corporation. But what visitors might not know is that what is now a globally traded company started as a humble five and dime on the town square.
Sam Walton and his family opened their first store as a Ben Franklin chain store nearby and when it came time to open another, the landlord won’t renew the lease. So they changed locations, named it after their family, and the rest is history.
What to See at the Wal-Mart Museum
Inside the museum, you’ll find interactive displays on the entire history of the company, starting with the first franchises until the present, with stores all over the world, including China, Mexico, and Brazil. Americans in the post-war era bought everything from appliances to clothing at these stores.
The Waltons continued to open stores in northwestern Arkansas and its neighboring states. The first Wal-Mart store opened in Rogers, Arkansas in the 1960s, continuing the motto of low prices.
You’ll also find Sam Walton’s desk, carefully saved from exactly how he had it during his life. There are also badges and the nametags of the very first employees. There’s also Walton’s pickup truck inside the museum with a replica parked outside.
In the original five and dime is a toy store that carries modern versions of the classics sold there in the 1950s. And on the other side of the museum is a soda fountain, also inspired by the glory days of the store. It’s a fascinating attraction for all ages to understand the humble beginnings of the store.
Tips for Visiting the Walmart Museum
The Walmart Museum is located at 105 North Main Street, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712. They’re open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 12-9 pm. Admission is completely free. Street parking is available for free.
Where to Eat Near the Walmart Museum
The Walmart Museum has The Spark Cafe, an old-fashioned soda fountain serving ice cream (including the signature Spark Cream flavor), sundaes, and snacks. Pressroom is a favorite lunch spot, serving soups, sandwiches, and local vegetable dishes. Ozark Mountain Bagel Co. on the Square serves New York-style bagels along with sandwiches, salads, and coffee.
Where to Stay Near the Walmart Museum
For an easy walk to the Walmart Museum, stay at the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville (review here), which has an award-winning restaurant and its own art gallery. South Walton Suites is close to Walmart’s home office and has an onsite spa, a fitness center, and a restaurant.