Shareholders' Meeting Brings 5,800 Walmart Associates to Northwest Arkansas

Thousands of people fill up Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville for the Walmart shareholders' meeting.

Thousands of people fill up Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville for the Walmart shareholders' meeting.

Walmart associates from 28 countries are arriving this week in Northwest Arkansas ahead of Friday’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

The one-of-a-kind event at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville highlights the Fortune 500 company’s best successes and provides shareholders with an opportunity to learn what’s ahead for the world’s largest retailer.

In all, Northwest Arkansas will be welcoming 5,800 associates to the region, said Walmart spokesman Mark Espinoza.

The Bentonville-based company founded by Sam Walton opened its first store in Rogers in 1962. There are now more than 5,000 Walmart stores and clubs nationwide, and more than 11,500 retail units worldwide. Those Walmart units operate under 63 different banners.

“This is a special week at Walmart where we celebrate and thank our 2.3 million associates from around the globe,” said Jacqui Canney, the company’s executive vice president of global people. “Mr. Sam always said our associates are our greatest source of ideas, and one of the best parts of this week is hearing their ideas and insights on how we can serve our customers even better.”

There's a fantastic history of the company's shareholders' meeting, describing the first meetings and the big transition to Bud Walton Arena in 1987.

It’s possible to watch Friday’s 46th annual shareholders’ meeting online. It starts at 8 a.m.

The company brings in movie, television and music superstars, and only a select few people know who wil take part in Friday's big event. Those guests in the past have included Ben Stiller, Reese Witherspoon. Harry Connick Jr., Hugh Jackman, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, Tom Cruise, Taylor Swift, Will Smith, Alicia Keyes, Tim McGraw and Enrique Iglesias.