Fast 15: Blake Barron

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,623 views 

Class of 2021 Blake Barron Merchant Walmart Inc.

Bentonville native Blake Barron grew up watching his father work as a merchant for Walmart. Andy Barron was a merchant for 27 years.

Blake Barron’s first role at Walmart was as an intern in summer 2016 while a University of Arkansas student studying for bachelor’s degrees in marketing and supply chain management. He worked in Walmart merchandising for U.S. manufacturing and sourcing.

“Working alongside merchants there, I saw how passionate merchants were about their jobs, and it seemed really fun,” he said. “That started me at Walmart, and I really like the culture at Walmart.”

The following summer, Barron said he returned as an intern in Walmart merchandising for pets and “fell in love with merchandising from there.”

In July 2018, he joined the retailer full time as an associate buyer in Walmart merchandising for pets and dog grooming. He remained in the role for two years until July 2020, when he was promoted to a merchant for household chemicals, air care and pest control.

“My job every day is to negotiate with our suppliers and lower the cost of goods, so we can lower the price for our customers … And they can stretch their dollar a little bit further,” he added. “Having that purpose every day when I go to work makes it really easy to want to succeed because it’s not for my own personal gain — it’s for our customer.”

Barron is responsible for developing a merchandising category strategy for the company’s stores and website in air care and pest control. He works with suppliers to curate the best product assortment based on consumer trends. He also determines how customers can purchase those items, such as at the store or online.

While a lot of customers continue to shop in-store, the e-commerce growth rate “is massive, and it’s only going to continue,” Barron said. “COVID only sped it up that much more. It feels like we’ve jumped five years into the future as far as how fast people are adopting shopping online and having things shipped to their home.”

He works remotely with a team of 10 and oversees one employee.

Barron supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Fellowship Bible Church of NWA. He enjoys road biking, wakeboarding on Beaver Lake, and eating at new restaurants.