June 19, 2019
By Greg Foran, President and CEO, Walmart U.S.
Open Call is one of my favorite annual events at Walmart. It reminds me of why we do what we do: the love of great items.
Seeing innovators and entrepreneurs from all around the country visit Bentonville to pitch their products also reminds me that the power of great items extends beyond the shelves of a Supercenter or Neighborhood Market. The products these companies make might be sold nationally, but ultimately those businesses are rooted locally.
Sometimes, they have the biggest impact in the towns and neighborhoods where they operate.
They are an essential part of those communities, and more than that, of the lives of the people who live there. In some respects, they don’t simply make products, they help make neighborhoods.
When Open Call comes around each year, I get to hear many stories about the difference these business owners make.
One that stands out for me this year is Michele Liddle who founded Perfect Granola. She and her company have been with us since last Open Call.
They’re currently in 1,807 stores, and their business is doing well. What’s equally impressive to me is the impact she and her team are having on food and nutrition in the neighborhoods throughout her town, in particular by supporting homeless shelters, food banks and outreach centers.
What I love about Michele’s approach is she sees herself selling an idea more than a product.
The story of Perfect Granola also underscores something I’ve learned as CEO of Walmart U.S. During the nearly five years I’ve spent in this role, I’ve increasingly come to see Walmart in a similar light as many of the businesses who participate in Open Call, as a local business. Like many of them, we’re not just working to sell products but to create and build deeper, more personal relationships with our customers and their neighborhoods.
There’s no question in my mind, the more personal and consistent we can make those relationships, the more substantial and reliable the trust we’ll inspire. And, when we can inspire trust with our customers, associates and communities, we can do some amazing things.