Do you know the story of Sam Walton and the Hula?

By Larry Robertson, CEO | Retailers

Sam Walton doing hula on Wall Street
Apr 28

“Sam Walton and the Hula,” is the story of the most humorously-iconic moments in Walmart history, if not the entire retail industry… 

Two years ago I met a young lady named Kiersten Sundberg and she showed me an iPhone image of a portrait she had painted of her little sister. Kiersten is clearly very talented. The portrait was amazing, so I asked her how she was at painting people she didn’t know and had never even met? Kiersten said, “I’ve never really tried it but I think I can do it. Who would you like me to paint?”

Well, I said, since we live here in the retail capital of the world, why not paint Sam Walton, doing the hula after losing that bet with David Glass back in the 80’s.*

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. A large passenger van backs up to AON Invent’s front door. Kiersten jumps out to help her father unload the 6 foot long canvas…”Sorry this took so long,” she said. “Do you think it looks like him?”

“DOES IT LOOK LIKE HIM, I said! Are you kidding me? It is the spitting image of Mr. Sam and I am honored to have this awesome piece of art make its public debut here at AON Invent!     

*In 1983 then-CFO David Glass forecast Walmart’s pretax net at 8%. “Mr. Sam” thought that was a bit optimistic but when the numbers came in, he made good on the bet and danced the hula on Wall Street.

About the Author

Larry is the CEO and co-founder of AON Invent. He has enjoyed a career that has spanned sales, marketing, and product innovation for companies that include subsidiaries of AMR/American Airlines, Learjet and Sam's Club. In 1995 he teamed up with Ron Loveless, the founding CEO of Sam's Club, to launch a marketing and product development firm that grossed $500 million in its first 3 years. Over the past 20+ years, Larry has personally vetted over 1,000 product concepts and marketing strategies.

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