Across the U.S., signs of normalcy are beginning to reappear. Families are hugging loved ones they haven’t seen in months. Friends are meeting for dinner, and kids are preparing to step back into the classroom.
For many small businesses, however, the economic effects of the last 18 months are still being felt. The entrepreneurial spirit is the fabric of our company, and we couldn’t do business without our amazing supplier community.
Our annual Open Call event is always one of my very favorite days of the year, but this year’s virtual event feels like it means even more. Open Call has connected us to so many small businesses and their products over the years. These businesses are at the heart of communities here in America and a big part of our $350 billion commitment to U.S. manufacturing to help create American jobs.
We couldn’t be more excited about the people and products that took place in today’s Open Call.
People like Jim Mullen, who created Mullen’s Applesauce. Jim Mullen is a former Chicago police officer who was shot in the line of duty 25 years ago and was left paralyzed from the neck down. Now manufacturing his mother’s original recipe applesauce, Mullen is one of more than 900 small- and medium-sized business owners who pitched their shelf-ready products to Walmart merchants today and one of 167 products moving forward and 705 receiving further consideration.
Our merchants also talked to representatives from Earth Edge, a North Carolina-headquartered business. We were so impressed with their pitch that we hope to soon be selling their kneeling pads in a whopping 3,900 of our stores. It’s exciting and rewarding for Walmart and our customers to see suppliers come in with such captivating products.
North Carolina is far from the only state that was represented. Today, suppliers representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico each had 30-minute one-on-one meetings with Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants.
That includes Ricks Roasters, a veteran owned business out of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Three items in its ground coffee assortment received a ‘yes’ from Walmart merchants today.
Our company has been changed by the people we’ve met at Open Call over the years – people just like those behind Mullen’s Applesauce, Earth Edge and Ricks Roasters – and the diversity of products made, grown or assembled in the U.S. they have brought to our shelves.
We’re excited for all the new businesses that will be joining the Walmart family this year and well into the future. Anyone interested in doing business with Walmart can watch the Open Call General Session, our welcoming kickoff to this year’s applicants, that offers encouragement from Walmart leaders, support of U.S. manufacturing from elected officials and even a celebrity cameo.
Our Open Call event has the power to change the future for these small businesses, their families and their communities. It’s one of the things that makes this event, and Walmart, so unique.