Walmart always had an eye for growth. Before Walmart opened in 1962, Sam Walton traveled the country to learn everything he could learn about discount retailing. Within a decade, Walton had fifteen Walmart stores and the chain went public, offering stock for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972.
That capital infusion allowed Walton to grow to 276 stores in eleven states by 1980. In 1983, the first Sam’s Club members-only warehouse opened and in 1988, the first Walmart Supercenter opened. By 1989, customers could shop at over 1,402 Walmart stores and 123 Sam’s Club locations. Sales increased from $1 billion in 1980 to $26 billion by 1989.
Today, with over 8,000 stores and club location in fourteen markets that server more than 176 million customers per year, Walmart has grown to represent the lives of many baby boomers as well as X and Y generations. When a customer walks into a WalMart store today, he or she can purchase any item for any of life’s needs and desires from diapers to caskets.
Yes, caskets. Walmart has created a beta site that currently offers a range of a little over a dozen casket styles and prices. You can choose from among the Regal Wide Body Steel Casket that is four inches wider than standard-sized caskets for about $1,200. You can choose the Lady de Guadalupe Steel Casket for just $895. Or, you can go all out for the Sienna Bronze Casket with hand-crafted brushed-finished highlights and hand-sewn velvet interior. This is the highest-priced casket at the moment, going for $2,899.00.
For opponents who contest Walmart’s sources for merchandise, those advocates for ‘made in the U.S.A’ materials can rest easy. All Walmart caskets currently are made and assembled in America. And, while caskets are not carried in stores, the shipping costs are reasonable. You can ship the casket straight to the funeral home if needed immediately, or store it in the attic as an hedge against future inflation.
In his autobiography, Walton wrote, “…if you think about it from the point of view of the customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; and a pleasant shopping experience.”
Now, a Walmart customer can experience it all, from diapers to wedding rings to more diapers and, finally, caskets. A true birth-to-death experience, all under one roof.