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More than 175 entrepreneurs are closer to getting their products on Walmart Inc.'s shelves after the Bentonville-based retailer's Open Call event Thursday.

Another 450 businesses will receive "further consideration," Walmart said without elaboration.

Despite having to hold its seventh annual event via videoconference this year because of the pandemic, Walmart invited more than 800 small businesses from across the country to pitch their products to Walmart and Sam's Club buyers in 30-minute meetings.

Walmart said in a news release that as a result of the meetings, "more than 175 [businesses] received a 'yes,' advancing them to the next stage in the process to land on store and club shelves."

The company did not say what that next step entails, or if any Arkansas entrepreneurs were among those selected to move forward.

Opportunities available for these businesses also include getting their products on, or Walmart's third-party marketplace. In fact, like last year, all participating companies that make shelf-stable products were invited to sell them on Walmart's various e-commerce platforms.

"It's truly inspiring to see the strong entrepreneurial spirit of this year's participants," said Laura Phillips, Walmart's senior vice president for global sourcing and U.S. manufacturing. "Despite the challenges small businesses have faced this year, they've brought incredible energy, innovation and ingenuity to their product pitch meetings."

Open Call was first held in 2014 as part of a commitment Walmart made a year earlier to invest $250 billion in products made or sourced in the U.S. by 2023.

About 4,800 businesses applied for this year's event. That's about 44% more than last year, the company said. Applicants represented 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique.

The top five states with the largest number of businesses getting the green light from Walmart are California, New York, Florida, Ohio and New Jersey.

The most popular product categories pitched during Open Call were food, health and wellness, and personal care. These products "reflect consumer trends in healthy foods, natural products, ethnic cuisine, snacks and adult beverages," Walmart said.

Businesses going on to the "next step" with Walmart include: Medzone of Kansas, face balm; The Dog Perk Corp. of Minnesota, pet bandannas; Fresh Nature Foods of Washington state, green chickpea falafel cakes; veteran-owned K-Co of California, brass hose nozzle; DNA Vineyards of California, wine; Sierra Sage Herbs LLC of Colorado, natural cold sore relief; RPM Inc. of Minnesota, plastic plant coaster, and ChocZero of California, dark chocolate keto bark.

Others include: MyBread of Wisconsin, gluten-free baked goods; Rastelli Foods Group of New Jersey, chuck and short rib craft burger; Vow Beauty of New Jersey, facial toner; TipSee Light Co. LLC of New York, BBQ Light; Pompette Beverages Inc. of New York, clementine berry hard sparkling water; Skinny Latina of Florida, hot sauce; That's My Girl Inc. of New York, elastic waist dress; and Advanced Graphics Inc. of Florida, Salty Bones Folding Fishing Ruler.


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