Walmart ‘Open Call’ is a Super Bowl for entrepreneurs
(NewsNation) – It’s Shark Tank meeting Walmart. The retail giant is hosting its annual “Open Call” event on Wednesday, where business owners can pitch and showcase their products for a chance to get them on Walmart store shelves.
“For entrepreneurs, it’s like the Super Bowl,” said Skinny Latina founder Ana Quincoces.
And Quincoces knows it. She created Skinny Latina, a range of Latin-inspired culinary sauces. She pitched her brand to Walmart, getting a “no” the first two times.
“I really thought they were just going – I was going to wow them and they were going to put my products in all 3,000 stores, and it just didn’t work out,” she said.
But Quincoces did not give up.
Instead, she used the feedback she received from the rejection to revamp her product.
“Third time they gave me the OK, and now I have 5 SKUs (storage units) on Walmart’s shelves alongside brands like Heinz and Hellmann’s,” Quincoces explained. “Working with Walmart has been a real game-changer for my small business.”
It was a golden ticket that changed his world.
The annual contest is Walmart’s largest procurement event held at its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s an opportunity for the retail giant to connect with smaller US businesses. Over 4,500 companies applied for the chance to present this year.
“It really is an exciting day,” Payton McCormick, Walmart’s senior manager, told NewsNation. “It sets the stage for entrepreneurs from across the country to come to Bentonville, both virtually and in person, to showcase their products to Walmart merchants in hopes of potentially getting the product on Walmart shelves, on Walmart. com, in front of our customers and our members.
500 business owners arrived in person on Wednesday to showcase their products, while another 700 entrepreneurs would try their luck virtually for the chance to work with the world’s largest retailer.
“The opportunity we are creating for them here is truly unique and special as it is our biggest sourcing event of the year. This is our ninth event. This is the largest cohort we have ever had. And over 13,000 products have requested to come here,” McCormick explained.
McCormick explained that “Open Call” is built on the foundation of American manufacturing and creating American jobs, and Walmart is looking for products that support that commitment as well. In 2021, Walmart reinvested an additional $350 billion in products made, grown or assembled in the United States
“A lot of vendors here today are offering products like this that will support their communities, that will help us grow American jobs,” he said. “He’s just looking to bring some of that back to the United States, and over 85% of our customers agree with that idea that they want their retailers to sell products that are made here in the United States”
Le’Host Hair and Wigs CEO Haith Johnson told NewsNation that’s how they started: “We got our life’s calling, and it changed us forever.”
Johnson first showcased her products in 2020. In just two years, her products have grown from 200 stores to over 400. This year, she is attending the event solely to mentor and guide other small business owners throughout the process.
“The energy you feel in the parking lot and in the hallways: the glowing eyes, the bushy tails,” she said, “It’s so amazing. Having the opportunity to get your products from a mom and a dad on a global national level is amazing.”
Cerakote Ceramic Coatings founder Brian Hall is back this year to introduce a new product to the company after successfully launching another of his products just over a year ago.
“It’s real,” Hall said, “We showed up and pitched a little over a year ago. We had an opportunity.
Hall said his product started in 400 stores. With hard work and investment in the product, Hall said the product is now in 2,200 stores, and soon to be in 3,900 stores.
“We will make over $3 million with Walmart this year. So it’s real. And it’s such a great opportunity,” he said.
Hall’s business is based in Oregon, and Walmart has helped catapult her business into a retail space it’s never been before. He said with all the reinvestment and help the company has given him, Hall’s business now has more than 150 manufacturing jobs in the state.
“It’s a lot of hard work and it’s fun, but you have to deliver a great product,” he said.
Walmart invited Hall back to showcase two new products this year and to help mentor small business owners new to the event. One of the products it is showcasing this year is a shower glass, hard water point, and ceramic coating to improve shower cleanliness.
The event is moving fast. The retail company will hear 1,200 individual presentations on Wednesday and each entrepreneur has only 30 minutes for their presentation. The small business owner will pitch to a Walmart shopper, and when their time is up, they’ll get an instant “yes” or “no.”
In the past, around 15% of people have received an offer, but Walmart told NewsNation there’s no limit to the number of gold tickets they can offer.
Suggest a fix