Walmart said it handed out more than 175 “yes” cards and another 450 businesses are still being considered for their products from the retail giant’s virtual Open Call held Oct. 1. The annual event has become an important way Walmart finds new U.S.-made products.
“No other retailer provides small businesses with as many channels and avenues to success, and we’re thrilled with their response to Walmart’s first-ever virtual Open Call event,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for global sourcing and U.S. manufacturing. “It’s truly inspiring to see the strong entrepreneurial spirit of this year’s participants.”
Walmart said nearly 2,100 people joined to watch the general session of Open Call live and it received more than 34,000 additional views throughout the day. The 30-minute virtual meetings took place on Oct. 1 where 4,800 small businesses made their pitches before buyer teams. Walmart said the virtual nature of this year’s event allowed for 44% more meetings than last year.
The most popular categories were food, health and wellness and personal care. Products pitched reflect consumer trends in healthy foods, natural products, ethnic cuisine, snacks and adult beverages, Walmart said. A few of the products coming to Walmart from the Open Call include: Medone – face balm; The Dog Perk Corp. – pet bandana; Fresh Nature Foods – green chickpea falafel cakes; MyBread – gluten-free back goods; TipSee Light – BBQ light; and ChocZero – dark chocolate Keto bark.
Hugh Jarratt, a co-founder of Jarratt Industries in Fayetteville, said the virtual pitch for his Sunday Funday plate went well. He said buyers were interested in the product and he’s been in contact with Walmart since the call. Because the display reset in this plastic dishware department is set for the fall of 2021, Jarratt said the earliest the product could be in stores would be after that.
“I have been among those getting a ‘yes’ in past years, but I am happy to still be in conversations with Walmart about the Sunday Funday plate and we will keep working through the details over the next few months to try and be part of the new reset,” Jarratt told Talk Business & Politics.
Jarratt was a fan of the virtual meeting this year. He said it allowed him to fully demonstrate how the product performed in the microwave, which would not have possible in a typical vendor room at the Walmart home office.
“I was able to take four large sweet potatoes and put them on the plate and microwave them for 12 minutes while we talked about the product with the buyers. I was then able to remove the plate from the microwave with one hand showing the durability and heat resistance of the product as it held the four large fully cooked sweet potatoes,” he said.