Walmart holding open call for local entrepreneurs

Walmart is giving American entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their products to company executives, and possibly end up on store shelves, through its sixth annual Open Call event.

This is really the American dream at its finest. This is exactly what it’s all about,” Tiffany Wilson, Walmart director of communications, said. “The businesses that get the opportunity to pitch are really excitedbecause they get to be face-to-face with buyers and Walmart executives.”

Open Call started in 2013 as a part of Walmart’s commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion in products made, sourced or grown in the United States by 2023.

Any American-owned business can apply for the opportunity to participate in the event that will take place in Bentonville, Arkansas on June 18th and 19th.

The first day is focused on helping businesses by providing the entrepreneurs with tips during Walmart’s “supplier academy,” while the second day is focused on the pitch meetings.

According to Wilson, last year there were roughly 600 participants and around 100 companies received a deal from Walmart. One of which was Ahssa Foods, located in Mesa, Arizona.

“Ahssa is Korean Slang for ‘awesome,’ [and my] product is Korean inspired healthy cooking sauces for meat, fish and vegetarian dishes,” Ahssa Foods Owner Kay Weldon said. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to offer my sauces to a larger market. It has increased [my] sales and I have hired more help.”  

Weldon said companies should show how their product would benefit Walmart and have competitive prices. Wilson added that explaining its importance to customers helps strengthen your pitch.

They’re really looking for products that fulfill a need for a customer that doesn’t exist right now. We’re looking for products that are different, that are niche,” Wilson said. “Tell your story, tell us about the research that you’ve done to really create something that’s going to be special and should be in all of our stores.”

According to Wilson, being chosen benefits not only the local entrepreneur but their entire community by bringing additional jobs in industries like manufacturing and sales.

Last year, Walmart supported 32,767 Arizona jobs by spending $1.6 billion with Arizona suppliers.

“My favorite part of it is seeing how Walmart can change lives and change businesses,” Wilson said. “About 50 percent of the businesses last year were diverse and 25 percent of them were women-owned. So it’s great to see a nice field of different people, different products, different categories coming into [Open Call] and meeting the needs of customers.”

Applications for Walmart Open Call close April 30, to apply click here.

Emily Richardson

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