Walmart Inc. is now taking applications for its sixth annual Open Call, slated for June 18-19 at the mega-retailer’s headquarter in Bentonville, Ark. Those interested in applying can go online to schedule a face-to-face pitch meeting with a Walmart buyer. The application deadline is April 30.
According to the company, the two-day event aims to inform, empower and encourage participants while offering effective networking opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
“Our customers tell us that products made, sourced or grown in the U.S. are important to them, and we work year-round to identify local suppliers and source products that our customers are proud to buy,” noted Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s VP of merchandise services and U.S. manufacturing. “Walmart’s Annual Open Call gives us a unique opportunity to meet entrepreneurs from across the country and discover new, niche and innovative products that fill a need for our customers and support jobs right here in America.”
At last year’s Open Call, almost 600 meetings took place with product pitches for such items as toys, apparel, natural health and beauty aids, and food. Prospective suppliers came from 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. More than half of the participant businesses self-identified as diverse, among them almost 25 percent identifying as women-owned.
Products that Walmart introduced to stores following the 2018 event included Low-fat gourmet sauces from Ahssa Foods LLC, natural skin care items from Bodylove Naturals, organic breakfast burritos from Mame’s Burrito Co., naturally sweetened granola bars from The Perfect Granola, and unique wine blends from Shoe Crazy.
In 2013, Walmart revealed its commitment to help stimulate job creation and U.S. manufacturing by purchasing an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023. The annual Open Call is one way that the company works toward this goal.
Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, as well as ecommerce websites, employing more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.