On a recent trip to Northwest Arkansas, a few of my colleagues and I decided to take a few minutes and tour the Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Downtown Bentonville is a step back in time with a beautiful picturesque square, little shops nestled around the corners and delicious restaurants. On the corner, you can take a free tour of the Walmart Museum and of course enjoy shopping at the original 5 and 10 store.
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Visiting the Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas
The Walmart Museum is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. The museum is free to the public and offers a unique look at the life of Sam Walton as well as a look at the evolution of the Walmart supercenter stores.
Waltons 5 & 10
The 5&10 store is the first of the stores owned by Sam Walton to be called by his family name and is the entrance to the Walmart Museum.
Today, visitors to The Walmart Museum can see the original tin ceiling tiles from Harrison’s Variety Store as well as the original red and green tiles that Sam laid down prior to the famous remodeling sale. If you look closely, you can see that the red and greens don’t all exactly match. Sam, you see, had been offered a better price on the batch of tiles if he accepted them “as is”.
While we were there on our visit, we had the unique opportunity to go to the rooftop and overlook downtown Bentonville at night. Though this is not an area open to the public, we were given a personal tour to the rooftop where we were able to see the military memorial statue, restaurants, and view of the city square.
Spark Café Soda Fountain
Of course we had to get some ice cream at the Spark Café Soda Fountain. It’s just what you do after touring the museum.
The Spark Café Soda Fountain is a tribute to Sam’s love of ice cream. The café proudly serves Yarnell’s, a family brand made in Searcy, Arkansas, not far from the Walmart Distribution Center. Albert Yarnell, founder Ray Yarnell’s son, remembers the days of delivering ice cream with his dad to Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. Yarnell’s was the very first ice cream Sam ever sold, so the tradition has been kept alive at The Spark Café.
Interesting tidbit: Did you know that Sam Walton’s favorite icecream flavor was butter pecan?
Highlights of the Museum
I love learning about famous people’s lives but don’t always take the time to read all the signs at each exhibit when I am with a group. Here are a few of the things that stood out to me on our quick tour of the museum.
One of the fascinating exhibits was a recreated look at Sam Walton’s office.
Sam Walton was quite rich but his transportation method of choice was a pickup truck. One of the museum attendants came over and shared how he would personally drive this truck to any meeting, whether it was a small trip to the local store or to meet with top executives.
I had never thought about the badges that employees wear as Walmart employees. What an amazing collection of Walmart pins!
I love hearing about business that are doing their part to make a difference recycling the waste that is created by their company. I was fascinated by this display that showed how Walmart takes broken hangers and plastic sizing labels and turns them into new hangers.
- The museum is free.
- The Walmart Museum features Walton’s 5&10, a world-class exhibit gallery and The Spark Café Soda Fountain.
- If you are staying at a local hotel in Rogers or Bentonville, ask about a free shuttle. Our Embassy Suite hotel offered a free shuttle to downtown Bentonville and came back to pick us up when we were ready to go back.
The service is free, but tips are appreciated and standard.
- The museum is on one floor and is easily accessible for wheelchairs or strollers.
- You can take a quick tour of the museum in about 30 minutes or spend longer time if you read all the exhibits and signs.
Hours of Operation
Friday & Saturday 8am–10pm
Connect with the Walmart Museum:
Have you ever visited the Walmart Museum in Bentonville? What is your favorite thing about museums like this?