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article imageVisiting the Walmart Visitor Center in downtown Bentonville, Ark. Special

By Kay Mathews     Jun 7, 2011 in Travel
Bentonville - The newly renovated Walmart Visitor Center is dedicated to the heritage and life of Walmart and its founder, Sam Walton, and features interactive digital displays and Sam's 1979 Ford half-ton pickup truck.
The welcome sign at the Walmart Visitor Center reads:
When Walton’s original 5&10 opened on this site, in May of 1950, no one—not even Helen and Sam Walton—could have envisioned the spectacular growth of this small business. Within a few decades, it had become the world’s largest retail company and today has thousands of stores worldwide. How did it happen? The Walmart Visitor Center was established in 1990 to tell this extraordinary story. The exhibits here chronicle the rise of a major global corporation, but they also portray the life of an American family and the dedication of millions of associates, who have made Walmart one of the world’s leading companies.
At the entrance also sits a mini-version of Sam Walton's famous pickup truck. For 10 cents kids can ride a replica of Sam’s truck.
Mini-version of Sam Walton s red and white 1979 Ford half-ton pickup truck.  Children s ride at Walm...
Mini-version of Sam Walton's red and white 1979 Ford half-ton pickup truck. Children's ride at Walmart Visitor Center. Bentonville, Ark.
The actual truck sits inside the Walmart Visitor Center. The truck that most Bentonville natives remember Sam driving around in was his red and white 1979 Ford half-ton pickup truck. According to a sign at the Walmart Visitor Center, “It’s an F150 Custom Model with a four-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive…The truck came to symbolize Sam’s own humble nature and the humility he expected from his executives and associates.”
Sam Walton s red and white 1979 Ford half-ton pickup truck.  Walmart Visitor Center.  Bentonville  A...
Sam Walton's red and white 1979 Ford half-ton pickup truck. Walmart Visitor Center. Bentonville, Ark.
The sign also presents Sam's answer to the question: Why do you drive a pickup truck?
“I just don’t believe a big showy lifestyle is appropriate. Why do I drive a pickup truck? What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls Royce?” said Sam Walton.
The newly renovated Walmart Visitor Center on the downtown square in Bentonville re-opened on May 21. According to a Walmart press release announcing the re-opening of the center, "Visitors will still see founder Sam Walton’s Ford pickup and fully preserved office and desk, in addition to new interactive digital displays, video and audio clips of company history and a few seasonal surprises for the return visitor. A timeline will highlight the early years of retail in Walton’s personal and professional life and pay tribute to the associates and family members who contributed to the company’s growth and success."
Sam Walton s office in Walmart Visitor Center.  Bentonville  Ark.
Sam Walton's office in Walmart Visitor Center. Bentonville, Ark.
Newly renovated Walmart Visitor Center features more interactive media.  Bentonville  Ark.
Newly renovated Walmart Visitor Center features more interactive media. Bentonville, Ark.
Now the Walmart Visitor Center also includes the "Spark Café for casual sidewalk coffees, baked goods and treats."
Spark Cafe at Walmart Visitor Center.  Bentonville  Ark.
Spark Cafe at Walmart Visitor Center. Bentonville, Ark.
The Walmart Visitor Center re-opened in time for the 2011 Walmart Shareholder's Meeting, and was on the shuttle bus route for visiting shareholders and associates. And many, many shareholders boarded those buses and visited the center.
Buses shuttled shareholders around Northwest Arkansas.  In front of Benton County Courthouse  Benton...
Buses shuttled shareholders around Northwest Arkansas. In front of Benton County Courthouse, Bentonville, Ark.
Walmart Visitor Center.  Bentonville  Ark.
Walmart Visitor Center. Bentonville, Ark.
Shareholders descend on the Walmart Visitor Center.  Bentonville  Ark.
Shareholders descend on the Walmart Visitor Center. Bentonville, Ark.
The Walmart Visitor Center is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The center is located at 105 North Main Street in downtown Bentonville, Ark.
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