BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Everyone seems to be on a first-name basis in Arkansas, and two names loom larger than most: “Sam” and “Bill.” One has passed on, and the other has moved along to become a citizen of the world (or at least New York). But each left his mark on the state and continues to fill an outsize space in the hearts and minds of Arkansans.
Sam (better known as “Mr. Sam”) is Sam Walton, who parlayed his modest 5&10 in Bentonville into the international merchandising juggernaut Walmart. The original store (complete with folksy red pickup truck out front) is now the Walmart Visitors Center. It sits across from the Civil War monument on a pocket-size plaza in this small northwest Arkansas town.