Title: Mr. Sam: How Sam Walton Built Wal-Mart and Became America's Richest Man
Author: Karen Blumenthal
Concepts: incentives, markets, price, innovation, distribution, consumers, producers, supply and demand, entrepreneurship
Review: Back in 1945, a hard-working and determined young man named Sam Walton opened his own store: a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. As he continued to do throughout his career, Sam eagerly increased his store's sales with strategic retailing practices, including discount pricing, innovative features, and aggressive moves to beat the competition. Over the next several decades, what started with one store grew into a massive retail corporation known to the world as Wal-Mart.
Although Wal-Mart gave American consumers (and subsequently consumers in countries around the world) access to goods at extremely low prices, over the years the company also drew increasing fire for some of its business practices. Critics argued that Wal-Mart promoted mostly white men to higher-level managerial positions, drove smaller stores out of business, gave relatively little to charitable organizations, and purchased goods from developing country factories with poor labor standards.
In this interesting biography, Karen Blumenthal provides an informative account of how Sam Walton built up his business to become the world's largest retail company. Thoroughly entwined in the narrative are numerous lessons in economics related to entrepreneurship, innovation, supply, and demand. The book is well-researched and provides a balanced account of the strengths and weaknesses underlying Sam Walton's profitable, aggressive, and controversial drive to provide consumers with the lowest prices in the market.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children