Sam Walton, with his brother Bud Walton, founded Wal-Mart, the chain of discount variety stores that in the 1990s became the world's largest retailer. Sam Walton went into the retail business in 1945, and by the time Wal-Mart first opened in 1962 he owned a chain of 15 variety stores in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Walton's savvy marketing skills and attention to detail led to Wal-Mart's expansion throughout the United States. By 1990 Wal-Mart was the nation's top retailer in terms of sales, and Walton was one of the richest men in the world. After his death in 1992 the company continued to expand, including online commerce and stores around the world. By 2001 there were more than 4,500 Wal-Mart stores worldwide.
Since Walton’s death the chain has come under fire for its labor practices and aggressive marketing tactics. Arguing that Wal-Marts drove out other merchants, many local communities fought to keep new stores from opening, and in June of 2004 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 1.6 million women, charging that Wal-Mart discriminated against female employees.