Can I own a Walmart?

Owning a major retail chain like Walmart is not something that most people can realistically aspire to. Walmart is a massive multinational corporation with over 11,500 stores worldwide and annual revenue of over $500 billion. While it’s theoretically possible for an individual to buy out Walmart entirely, it would cost many billions of dollars that the vast majority of people do not have access to.

How Much Would It Cost To Buy Walmart?

As of November 2022, Walmart has a market capitalization of around $370 billion. This means that you would have to pay at least that amount to buy all of the outstanding shares of Walmart and take it private. And that’s just to acquire the company – you would also need tens of billions more to actually operate it. Walmart employs over 2 million associates worldwide, so the payroll alone for running the stores would be immense.

For perspective, the current net worth of the richest person in the world, Elon Musk, is estimated at around $200 billion. Even for Musk, acquiring Walmart would likely be out of reach without massive outside financial support. And no banks are going to provide loans of that size without huge collateral guarantees.

So realistically, buying out Walmart entirely would take a consortium of the world’s wealthiest investors teaming up. Even then it would be an unprecedented feat with huge risks and complexities.

Could An Individual Buy a Single Walmart Store?

While acquiring the whole company is likely impossible for an individual, what about buying just one Walmart store? Unfortunately, that is also extremely difficult and rare.

First, Walmart does not typically sell off individual store locations. The company prefers to own and operate stores directly rather than franchise them out. So you would have to convince corporate leadership to sell, which is unlikely.

In the rare cases where a single Walmart store does get sold, it still costs millions of dollars. The real estate alone (land and building) could easily be $10 million+ for a Supercenter. Then there is the cost of inventory, equipment, employee wages, permits and licenses, etc.

There are examples of wealthy individuals buying an existing Walmart store location. For instance, an oil businessman purchased a Walmart store in Texas for $6.5 million in 2010. But that is not something the average person can manage, even with substantial savings or loans.

Acquiring a Franchise Like Walmart Express

Another potential option is that Walmart could open up franchising opportunities for certain store concepts. For example, Walmart Express was a smaller store format (12,000 to 15,000 square feet) that the company tested in some markets from 2011 to 2016.

Hypothetically, Walmart could have decided to franchise out stores under an Express model. This might then potentially be achievable for an ambitious entrepreneur or group of local business owners to acquire for 1-2 million dollars.

However, Walmart Express was discontinued because it did not meet financial expectations. And Walmart has not shown any indications of franchising out stores. So this does not appear to be a realistic path forward either.

Building a Brand New Store With the Walmart Name

If buying an existing Walmart store is not viable, what about building your own brand new store and naming it Walmart? This is also virtually impossible because Walmart owns registered trademarks on the brand name and logo.

Walmart would never license their brand to a store they did not fully control. Even if you named it something slightly different like “Walmarks,” they would likely sue for trademark infringement.

You could certainly open up your own independent discount retailer and model certain aspects after Walmart. Many other chains essentially try to mimic Walmart’s model. But you could not use the Walmart identity without facing legal action.

Investing in Publicly Traded Walmart Stock

Realistically, the only way for an ordinary person to “own” a piece of Walmart is by purchasing publicly traded Walmart stock (WMT on the NYSE). With the right strategy, investing in Walmart could allow you to benefit from its continued growth.

Some key things to know about owning Walmart stock:

  • Walmart has over 3 billion shares outstanding that trade publicly.
  • The current share price is around $140 (November 2022). So buying a single share would cost about $140.
  • Walmart pays a dividend of around $2.24 per share annually.
  • Investing in a diversified fund that holds Walmart stock is lower risk than buying shares directly.

By buying Walmart shares, you can participate in the company’s profits and have an ownership stake. Even one single share technically makes you a partial owner. However, with 3 billion+ shares out there, buying small amounts does not provide any control or influence.

Still, owning Walmart stock can be a prudent move as part of a balanced investment portfolio. The company has a long history of steady growth and consistent dividend payments. So while you cannot realistically buy the whole company, buying stock allows you to benefit from Walmart’s position as the world’s largest retailer.

Gaining Influence Through Activist Investing or Proxy Fights

If you somehow managed to acquire a very large ownership position in Walmart (say 5-10% of the company), then you could try to influence the governance more directly. This is what activist investors and hedge funds sometimes do.

By owning a sizeable chunk of shares, you could push for board seats, try to get CEOs fired, or advocate for specific strategic moves. This allows large shareholders to push for changes that align with their interests.

In extreme cases, major investors might even pursue a proxy fight to take over a company entirely. A proxy fight is when an activist investor tries to persuade other shareholders to install a new board that supports their agenda.

But realistically, these are very expensive and high-risk tactics. For Walmart, you would need billions of dollars to acquire enough stock to even consider being an activist. And Walmart’s massive size limits how much any single investor can own while staying under antitrust thresholds.

So activist strategies are not a feasible approach for regular individuals without huge capital reserves. Gaining a board seat or influencing management is really only possible for large hedge funds or billionaires.

Joining Walmart Management and Climbing the Ranks

What about joining Walmart’s executive team directly and climbing up the corporate ladder internally over many years?

This would involve starting an entry-level job at a Walmart store or corporate office and demonstrating exceptional talent. With the right performance and political acumen, you could potentially keep getting promoted to higher levels like store manager, regional manager, VP, SVP, etc.

Eventually, after 15-20+ years you might land a c-suite position and even become CEO. That would finally give you direct control over the company.

This is what Doug McMillon did – he started as a teenager unloading trucks at a Walmart distribution center. Through hard work and proven leadership capabilities, he kept rising through the ranks. Eventually in 2014, he became Walmart’s CEO.

So theoretically, a motivated individual could follow a similar path. But realistically, it requires generational talent and dedication that few possess. The vast majority of entry-level hires never make it remotely close to senior leadership no matter how hard they work.

You would have to demonstrate skills and potential far exceeding your peers and still get lucky with having the right opportunities open up. Even making it to upper management would be incredibly challenging.

Additionally, the competitive culture and grind required to climb that far could take a major toll personally. Is the single-minded pursuit of leading Walmart worth sacrificing work-life balance, relationships, and health for decades?

For most people, trying to work your way up the Walmart corporate ladder to the top is not a realistic strategy and comes with enormous risk and cost.

Marrying Into the Walton Family

Another hypothetical way to get control of Walmart is to marry into the Walton family. The descendants of Walmart founder Sam Walton own about half of Walmart’s stock and have immense influence over the company.

For example, Rob Walton was Chairman of the Board from 1992 to 2015. His son-in-law Greg Penner is the current Chairman. With the owners’ backing, you could potentially be appointed as CEO or otherwise exert significant sway over the strategic direction.

However, this is an extreme long-shot. Not only is marrying for money and power unethical, but the chances of wooing a Walton heir are slim to none for regular people. The family understands others may seek to exploit them and is very guarded about outsiders joining their inner circle through marriage.

Additionally, fewer Walton family members are directly involved in Walmart’s operations today. The stock ownership and control have become more diffuse across multiple generations. So even marrying a Walton would not necessarily grant you an executive role anymore.

Forget about plotting to marry into the Walton family to try and rule Walmart. It is unrealistic and unwise.

Opening a Small Business as a Walmart Supplier

Here is one final idea – start your own small business and become a supplier to Walmart! This goal is actually achievable for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Walmart spends over $100 billion per year purchasing merchandise to sell in its stores. There are thousands of companies large and small that count Walmart as an important customer.

If you manufacture a product or provide a service that Walmart needs, you could potentially build a relationship as a vendor. This would let you derive ongoing revenue and growth from the retail giant without actually owning it.

Some examples of ways small businesses can work with Walmart include:

  • Making private label products to sell under Walmart’s store brands
  • Selling specialty food items to local Walmart locations
  • Providing transportation and logistics services as a Walmart carrier
  • Building retail displays, signage, or other in-store fixtures
  • Supplying produce, meat, dairy, or other groceries to Walmart

The requirements and certification process to become a Walmart supplier can be rigorous. But determined business owners may be able to land and grow an account. This lets you profit directly from Walmart’s purchasing power without the unrealistic goal of actually owning the company.


While owning Walmart entirely is essentially impossible for individual investors, there are a few potential paths to gain exposure to the company:

  • Buying publicly traded WMT stock
  • Attempting to influence the board or management as an activist shareholder (extremely difficult)
  • Joining Walmart and rising up the corporate ladder over decades (unlikely to reach top spot)
  • Starting a small business that supplies products/services to Walmart

Realistically, the only options that provide a reasonable chance to benefit from Walmart’s success are investing in shares and potentially becoming a supplier. Other avenues are reserved only for billionaires and a select few insiders.

So while we all may aspire to own a legendary company like Walmart, it remains a lofty goal out of reach for ordinary people. With the right mindset and preparation, however, you can still potentially share in the company’s growth.

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