Here's What the First Walmart Stores Actually Sold

Sam Walton holding up a newspaper of a Walmart store's grand opening, while gathering with group of Walmart employees
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

The Original Goods

When Sam Walton opened the first Walmart on July 2, 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, he wanted to give customers unparalleled bargains on a wide variety of products. He succeeded, because by the time the ’60s were over, there were 18 stores in three states — and the rest, of course, is history. Courtesy of Walmart, here’s a look at some of the items shoppers could find in the first store’s 22 departments, and what they would have paid.

Images are close approximations of the actual items sold.

 

Related: The Best Deals at Walmart Right Now

Vintage Kodak Brownie Starmeter
Photo credit: Courtesy of ebay.com

Kodak Starmeter and Starmite Cameras, $74.37

In today’s dollars: $629.31

These similar cameras had molded plastic bodies and were touted for their portability. Both used 127 film rolls, which started to fade in popularity by the 1970s as they were supplanted by 35 mm. The cameras commanded a princely sum for Walmart, and adjusting for inflation, today you could spend a similar amount on a Canon EOS Rebel that can shoot full high-definition video and has built-in Wi-Fi.

Gleem Toothpaste
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Gleem Toothpaste, 53 cents

In today’s dollars: $4.48

Do you remember Gleem Toothpaste? In the 1960s, it gave brands like Crest and Colgate a run for their money, and commercials implored shoppers to “Brush often, and use Gleem.” Though Procter & Gamble eventually pulled the plug on Gleem, if you’re a fan, you can still find the same formula sold as Crest Fresh and White.

Vintage Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" Vinyl LP
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LP Records, 88 cents

In today’s dollars: $7.45

Youngsters who’ve never seen a record, let alone listened to one, may not know that “LP” was short for “long play,” and it was the first type of vinyl record that could hold an entire album instead of just a few songs. You can still find various albums on vinyl at Walmart, but the nostalgia is pricey — for instance, getting Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” on vinyl is double the price of a CD.

Mavis Talcum Powder
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Mavis Talcum Powder, 38 cents

In today’s dollars: $3.22

Before there was Johnson & Johnson’s ubiquitous white bottle of baby powder, there was Mavis Talcum Powder, available in an elegant cherry-red tin. But what used to be a common personal-care product is under fire today: Powders containing talc are under investigation for possibly increasing cancer risks, and the American Cancer Society recommends concerned consumers “avoid or limit their use” until more definitive information is available.

Vintage Alka-Seltzer from 1960s
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Alka-Seltzer, 38 cents

In today’s dollars: $3.22

It’s nice to know that some things never change, even if they include good ol’ indigestion. This commercial from the ’60s also shows that Alka-Seltzer’s famous “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” slogan was already in use, an ingenious ploy to encourage shoppers to consume double the Alka-Seltzer. Adjusted for inflation, pricing is pretty spot on at present-day Walmart, where 24 tablets cost 3 bucks and change.

1960s Vintage Sears Salon Bonnet Hair Dryer
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Hair Dryer with Hood and Built-in Nail Dryer, $6.97

In today’s dollars: $58.98

What was the busy woman of the ’60s to do while she had her curler-covered head stuffed in a hair-dryer hood? Give herself a manicure, of course. The bulky hair dryers of the ’60s came in suitcase-like cases so women could take them on the go, too. And while hair dryers with hoods have definitely ceded popularity to powerful handhelds, you can still find them at Walmart.

Kleenex Tissues 60's Vintage Print Ad
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400-Count Pack of Kleenex, 17 cents

In today’s dollars: $1.44

Starting in the ’30s, Kimberly-Clark began successfully convincing consumers that handkerchiefs were gross, and by the ’60s, it was spending the biggest slice of its ad dollars on Kleenex. In today’s dollars, even Walmart’s store brand Great Value tissues are a lot pricier than what Walmart asked for Kleenex just after opening.

1968 One A Day Vitamins: Happens On the Outside Vintage Print Ad
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Eterna Vitamins, 97 cents

In today’s dollars: $8.21

Today’s drugstore aisles are packed with a dizzying array of supplements, but multivitamins as we know them didn’t hit the big time until the 1950s, when they were often sold in faux-antique, apothecary-style bottles to lend an air of respectability. Prices seem to have held pretty steady, with Walmart selling a 200-count bottle of its store brand Equate Complete Multivitamins for just under $8.

Vintage General Electric Toaster
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Remington Toaster, $6.97

In today’s dollars: $58.98

Today, Remington is known almost exclusively for its line of personal care products, especially shavers, but the company used to dabble in other sectors, including small kitchen appliances. Today, spending the equivalent inflation-adjusted sum on a toaster can get you a pretty high-end model like this Cuisinart 4-Slice Metal Classic, which has a fittingly timeless vibe.

Avocado Green Vintage Laundry Basket
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Laundry Baskets, 53 cents

In today’s dollars: $4.48

Laundry wasn’t fun in the ’60s, and it isn’t fun today. And while we’re much less likely to have to head to the laundromat or hang clothes outside to dry, the baskets we used to schlep laundry around the house haven’t changed all that much in style or price. Today you can grab four Sterilite laundry baskets from Walmart for under $20, or less than $5 a pop — pretty close to the inflation-adjusted ’60s price.

Related: Are You Making These Laundry Mistakes

Vintage Farberware Electric Open Hearth Indoor Grill and Chicken Rotisserie
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Electric Spit Grill, $9.97

In today’s dollars: $84.36

Electric rotisseries were something of a ’60s novelty — small enough to sit on your counter, some were fully enclosed ovens, while others looked more like a traditional grill with an open spit. These days, most spit roasting is an outdoor affair, and you can pick up a spit for your existing charcoal or gas grill for half the price of these vintage contraptions.

Omega Seamaster 14701 Cal 562 Automatic Vintage Men's Watch 1962
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Men's and Women's Watches, $22.88

In today’s dollars: $193.61

The ’60s was a big decade for the wristwatch: Major manufacturers were battling to develop the first quartz watches, and the decade would conclude with an Omega watch flying to the moon. Today, after adjusting for inflation, you can nab a Fossil Smartwatch from Walmart for around the same amount as the not-so-smart ’60s watches.

Vintage 1966 Fedders Air Conditioner Ad
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Two-Speed Room Air Conditioner, $23.66

In today’s dollars: $200.21

Window air conditioners, popularized in the ’50s, were how to stay cool in the ’60s if you had a little money — central air conditioning wouldn’t roll around until the ’70s. Much to our sweaty relief, prices have fallen as technology has advanced, and we can get a basic two-speed model today for under $150.

Vintage Pyrex Measuring Cups
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Measuring Cups, 11 cents

In today’s dollars: 93 cents

Even by ’60s standards, Walmart’s measuring cup deal was a good one. Old catalogs show a glass liquid measure from Pyrex was three times the price, while lightweight Tupperware was a quarter. Today, the cheapest sets are in-store buys, but even a small plastic Mainstays Mini liquid measure is close to $2.

Vintage 60s Gold's Gym 10 lb. Barbell Plates
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Junior Strongman Barbell, $4.97

In today’s dollars: $42.06

Dollar for dollar, the cost of pumping iron at home has remained relatively steady since the ’60s. Walmart sells several basic barbell sets for around the same inflation-adjusted price that it charged after its grand opening, including this 100-pound set from the store-exclusive Gold’s Gym brand.

Vintage Wilson Golf Bag
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Wilson Golf Bag, $8.97

In today’s dollars: $75.90

Back in the ’60s, Wilson was one of the most recognizable names in golf, and its balls were favorites of tour players. It might not have quite as much cachet today, but the brand remains a familiar name. Today, you can get a basic Wilson golf bag from Walmart for cheaper than its early ’60s price, once the numbers are adjusted for inflation.

Image from page 57 of "Bolgiano's spring 1966 catalog : our 77th year" (1966)
Photo credit: 21″ Briggs & Stratton 4-Cycle Lawn Mower, $37.77 by Internet Archive Book Images (CC BY)

21" Briggs & Stratton 4-Cycle Lawn Mower, $37.77

In today’s dollars: $319.60

Briggs & Stratton helped revolutionize yard work in the ’50s and ’60s by developing lightweight gas engines for lawn mowers and other household equipment. Today their engines still power a ton of mowers, snow blowers and other machines, and you can grab a 21″ Murray mower with a Briggs & Stratton engine for a relatively modest sum — under $200 — compared to the 1960s price.

Vintage 60s' Brown Leather Boys' Oxfords
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Leather Boys' Oxfords, $2.44

In today’s dollars: $20.65

Leather oxfords are timeless, and in the early ’60s, most boys needed a pair for dressier occasions. Today, you can snag a pair of classic Deer Stags faux-leather wing tips for $25, just a few bucks more than the inflation-adjusted ’60s price. Walmart’s Wonder Nation brand also makes a more basic, budget-friendly version in black.

60s Gold Lame Gladiator Sandals
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Cleopatra Gold Sandals, 87 cents

In today’s dollars: $7.36

The ’60s saw the beginning of a strappy-sandal frenzy as buyers snapped up eye-popping styles to pair with rising hemlines. Today, these often-metallic “Cleopatra” sandals are better known as gladiator sandals, and they’re still very much in style — in fact, you can grab a pair for your favorite infant at a ’60s-equivalent price.

Related: 18 Bargain Knockoffs for Birkenstocks, Tory Burch, and Other Hot Summer Sandals

Vintage Metal Tackle Box
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Tackle Box, $12.75

In today’s dollars: $107.89

Judging by its inflation-adjusted price, we’re guessing that Walmart’s early ’60s tackle box was made of sturdy metal, and may have even come packed with lures. Today’s best-sellers include a modest soft-sided option with plastic cases inside, though splurging can get you hard plastic and several pull-out trays.

60s Vintage Sun Hat
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Ladies' Novelty Sun Hats, $1.17

In today’s dollars: $9.90

We’re not sure what constitutes “novelty,” but ’60s sun hats were mostly wide-brimmed affairs that aren’t much different than the classic straw sun hats you can still find today. To get the look for less than you would have paid in the ’60s, grab a three-pack of sunhats from Walmart’s Time and Tru brand for $13, or less than $5 a hat.

Vintage 60s Gingham Fabric
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Gingham Fabric, 48 cents a yard

In today’s dollars: $4.06

The ’50s and early ’60s were big years for gingham, embraced for its homespun, wholesome feel. If you feel like tracking down a vintage shirt or dress pattern and indulging your nostalgia, Walmart still sells gingham fabric at a price that’s pretty close to what it sold for in the ’60s, once adjusted for inflation.

Vintage 1960s Purple, Blue Yellow Geometric Head Scarf/Kerchief by Vera
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Ladies' Head Scarfs, 44 cents

In today’s dollars: $3.72

The early ’60s were all about the effortlessly chic tie-and-knot headscarf, a trend that hasn’t quite made a comeback in any meaningful way. But modern headwrap-style headbands like this one from Scunci can evoke a similar look — just pair it with your best oversized sunglasses and channel your inner Jackie O.

Related: 11 of Jackie Kennedy’s Most Stunning Looks

Vintage Mid-Century Embossed Metal Wastebasket
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Embossed Metal Wastebasket, 47 cents

In today’s dollars: $3.98

After adjusting for inflation, it turns out you could get an embossed metal wastebasket for under $4 at newly opened Walmart — not a bad deal at all. Good luck matching that price today, when even a basic Mainstays plastic wastebasket costs closer to $5.

Vintage 2 Step Teak & Stainless Steel Boat Boarding Ladder w/Hardware
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Two-Step Boat Ladder, $4.87

In today’s dollars: $41.21

The original Walmart opened just a stone’s throw from some of Arkansas’ best lakes, so catering to boaters was a no-brainer. Today, most boat ladders are three-step affairs, and you can snag a lightweight aluminum model for even less than the inflation-adjusted ’60s price.

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