Arlene Wright started working at the Walmart store in Eldon in 1977.
Now 80, she still works at the store part time as a greeter.
She remembers an occasional visitor to the Eldon store — Sam Walton, the founder of the world’s largest retail company. Walton died in 1992.
“Sam would visit the store periodically,” Wright said at last week’s 40th anniversary for the Eldon Walmart. “Sometimes it was unannounced visits he made, other times they were scheduled.
“He’d come in and spend quite a bit of time here,” Wright said. “Sometimes he’d go out to the shelves and pick up snacks and take them back to the lounge for the associates. Then there were times he would send up to Kentucky Fried Chicken and order big things of chicken for lunch for everybody.”
Wright said Walton was interested in what the employees — and customers — had to say about the store.
“He would just sit back there and talk to us,” Wright said. “He would just sit there and talk about our families, about the store, whatever we wanted to talk about.”
Wright has fond memories of the man who opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. Today, there are more than 8,500 stores in 15 countries. Walmart employs more than two million people, making it the largest private employer in the world.
“He was such a wonderful person,” Wright said. “He was just a common man. He didn’t let his success go to his head. He was very down to earth. He would ask us if we had comments, good or bad. We did get some changes made because of comments, and it could come from customers or the employees. He called us family, and he wanted everybody to be happy with how the store was run.”