More than 1,100 hopeful suppliers participated in Walmart’s 9th Annual Open Call presentation held in Bentonville on Wednesday, June 29. Walmart and Sam’s Club held nearly 1,200 meetings Wednesday with shoppers in which contractors pitched products for a spot in a Walmart store.
Walmart said it was the largest class of open call participants ever selected to present at the event, which has been held virtually for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. This year, Walmart said 60% of companies giving presentations identified themselves as a mixed-ownership business.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is contagious, and that energy is a big part of what makes Open Call so fun,” said Scott Gutche, senior director of U.S. manufacturing at Walmart.
Walmart said the event helps fulfill the dreams of those who earn the coveted Gold Card on Wednesday. While Walmart shoppers use a variety of methods to source products for stores and online, the Open Call event is the largest of its kind. This year, Walmart also offered open call participants early access to list their products on Walmart’s Marketplace. The company said 4,500 entrepreneurs applied to sell on the marketplace, listing more than 13,000 products ahead of the in-person event.
SCHOOL SUPPLIES, FUNNELS
Eric Held of New York-based Michael Roger Inc. has earned a gold card and the green light from Walmart for several of the company’s recycled/eco-friendly school and office supply items, from designer Decomposition Book, to pens , pencils, folders and others as items. They will arrive in 500 Walmart stores by early 2024. This was Held’s first time presenting at Open Call.
Held said Walmart wanted several products it could offer at a great price that still had a designer look and feel with an eco-footprint. He said the products were already sold at Target and select Whole Foods stores. He said Walmart’s order for 500 stores will create more jobs for the company’s manufacturing arm at its facilities in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Indiana.
“We just decided to try Open Call this year and we were surprised by the invitation to attend this event,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of sales calls for our products, but I’ve never attended an event like this. It’s great to get feedback from other contractors and the buying teams have been very forthcoming with their expertise as well. »
Hailing from Leroy, Michigan, population 305, Michael Earnest and Joe Crane received two gold cards at 10 a.m. Wednesday. They represented Tec Products with a flexible recycled rubber funnel that can flex 360 degrees. It will be manufactured for Walmart under the private label Hyper Tough and will be distributed in more than 4,700 stores by March next year. Earnest said the product design was done in-house, is manufactured in Leroy and will continue to be manufactured there, adding another 10 to 15 jobs to the new business. Tec Products already sells the funnel online at Amazon and Michigan auto stores.
Tec Products also released a bucket handle that fits a typical 5-gallon bucket that Walmart also wants. Crane said the product will likely be integrated into Walmart’s new Pro-Pail product as an add-on in 300 to 400 stores to begin with, with the potential to scale as a sales mandate. Crane said Tec Products holds patents on both products. The product is already sold online on Amazon.
Tec Products representatives said they traveled from northern Michigan in a branded van and were having a great time in northwest Arkansas for the event. It was the first time either man had visited Bentonville, and it was the first time their parent company, Leroy Tool and Die, had made products for Walmart.
Brian Baer and Alan Hall of Zone Protects of Decatur, Alabama, presented three of the company’s 41 products. Baer has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arkansas and his daughter is a sophomore there. As CEO and co-founder of Zone Protects, Baer said the products are already selling well on Walmart.com. Early Wednesday, the team picked up their first gold card on Zone Realtree Invisible Hunter Defender Insecticide Spray. Baer said the company makes all products in-house, and Walmart suggested 100 stores to start with. These stores will be in the most popular areas for hunting.
Brothers Sami and Rami Mubashen of Bastrop, Texas are the first to market their 100% recycled golf balls, which they harvest from ponds and neighborhoods surrounding golf courses. Since July last year, the brothers said they had selected 32,000 golf balls for their products.
BasTex, their company, got a gold card to sell recycled golf balls in 50 stores to start with. While the business is already growing with 16 full-time employees and 12,000 square feet of warehouse space, the brothers said Walmart needs 40,000 bales a week for 100 stores, and the total weekly harvest of the business is 60,000. The brothers chose to start at 50 stores and use that revenue to help increase harvesting capacity so they could eventually grow to 100 stores.
“We saw a gap in the market for a reliable and consistent product. We started solving this problem and Clean Green Golf Balls was born. We doubled our turnover in one year to $4.5 million in sales,” said Sami Mubashen. “We can’t wait to see how far we can take the company with this new partnership with Walmart.”
George Zalucki of Clearwater, Florida is a retired firefighter turned entrepreneur. He presented the Hinge Hero to Walmart and also got a gold card. He said the product is made in Florida and he looks forward to working with Walmart to determine how many stores will start with the product, which is already sold on Walmart.com, Amazon.com and HingeOutlet.com.
DONUT MIX, EAZY PEAZY
Micah and Heidi Stampley of Fayetteville, Georgia were thrilled to bring their Donut Mix to Walmart stores. The couple are from southern Louisiana and they ran a Creole restaurant in Georgia from 2017 to 2019 when a family tragedy sidelined the business. Micah said the Beignet mix is the same recipe the couple used at their restaurant that customers kept asking for after closing.
Orleans Foods has secured a deal to sell a 12-ounce donut mix in Louisiana stores. The company is working with a co-packer in Pearl, Miss., on the product. Heidi Stampley said the company is working on other Creole products for retail from recipes passed down from their families. She said the restaurant was a great training ground and a successful test market.
Aundrea Dumas knows a thing or two about running a restaurant as a bakery owner for several years in the Atlanta suburb of Stockbridge. His business, Eazy Peazy Cakes, was also a hit with Walmart shoppers on Wednesday as the top category for the dairy department. Dumas explained that his product is sold in the dairy case as a pre-mixed cake mix.
“All you do is shake the bottle, pour and cook. The product has a shelf life of 3 months in the fridge and 6 months if frozen,” she said.
His company has five flavors and Walmart wanted all five but in a smaller package that also includes frosting and other toppings. The product is sold in a 16-ounce bottle on Macys.com and QVC. Dumas said so many people wanted the cupcakes when she closed the bakery that she started providing them with the batter mix and they loved the option.
“With so many busy families eating at home, it’s a real time saver for a great dessert. Or for those who only want to make one or two cupcakes, they don’t need to use the whole bottle at once. Walmart wants a smaller bottle given the limited storage space in dairy so I can easily make it happen,” she said.
Before the pandemic, Dumas had a frozen crab/shrimp cake product called Shrab Cakes that was sold at 1,000 Kroger and Costco stores. Dumas is a civil engineer who enjoys running the business, sharing recipes passed down from her mother and grandmother.
Dumas said she applied for Open Call after her WBENC (Woman-Owned Business Enterprise National Council) representative encouraged her to do so. After two reminders, Dumas said she did it just to appease her friend.
“I forgot about it and when the invite came I couldn’t believe it. It’s a big day for Eazy Peazy Cakes,” she said.
Walmart said it would update the media on Thursday on the total number of offers distributed on Wednesday.