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Walmart chooses beignet mix, recycled golf balls and many other new products

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More than 1,100 hopeful suppliers participated in Walmart’s ninth annual Open Call held in Bentonville on Wednesday (June 29). Walmart and Sam’s Club held nearly 1,200 buyer meetings Wednesday where business owners pitched products for a spot at a Walmart store.

Walmart said it is the largest class of Open Call participants ever selected to present at the event, which has been held virtually for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Walmart said that 60% of the companies that made proposals identified themselves as diversely owned businesses.

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“The entrepreneurial spirit is contagious, and that energy is a big part of what makes Open Call so much fun,” said Scott Gutche, Walmart’s senior director of US manufacturing.

Walmart said the event helps make dreams come true for those who get the coveted gold card on Wednesday. While Walmart shoppers use various methods to obtain products for stores and online, the Open Call event is the largest of its kind. This year, Walmart also offered Open Call participants early access to listing their products on Walmart’s Marketplace. The company said 4,500 entrepreneurs applied to sell on Marketplace, listing more than 13,000 products ahead of the in-person event.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES, FUNNELS
Eric Held of New York-based Michael Roger Inc. won a gold card and a thumbs-up from Walmart for several of the company’s recycled and eco-friendly office and school supplies, from the Decomposition Book design book to pens. , pencils, folders and others. as items. They will reach 500 Walmart stores in early 2024. It was the first time that Held participated in Open Call.

Held said Walmart wants several products that it could offer at a value price that still has a designer look with an ecological footprint. He said the products are already sold at Target and select Whole Foods stores. He said Walmart’s order for 500 stores will create more jobs for the company’s manufacturing arm at its facilities in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Indiana.

“We just decided to try Open Call this year and were surprised by the invitation to attend this event,” he said. “I have made many sales calls for our products, but I have never been to an event like this. It has been great to get feedback from other entrepreneurs and the buying teams have also been very open with their experience.”

Hailing from Leroy, Michigan, population 305, Michael Earnest and Joe Crane received two gold cards at 10 am Wednesday. They featured Tec Products with a flexible funnel made from recycled rubber that can flex 360 degrees. It will be made for Walmart under the private label Hyper Tough and will hit more than 4,700 stores by March of next year. Earnest said the product was designed in-house, is manufactured at Leroy and will continue to be manufactured there, adding 10 to 15 more jobs from the new business. Tec Products already sells the funnel online on Amazon and in auto stores in Michigan.

Tec Products also released a bucket handle that fits a typical 5-gallon bucket that Walmart wants too. Crane said the product will likely be integrated with Walmart’s new Pro-Pail product as a fixture add-on in 300 to 400 stores to start with, with the ability to scale as a sales guarantee. Crane said that Tec Products holds patents on both products. The product is already sold online on Amazon.

Representatives from Tec Products said they traveled from Northern Michigan in a Tec Products van and were having a great time in Northwest Arkansas for the event. It was the first time either of the men had visited Bentonville and it was the first time their parent company, Leroy Tool and Die, would make products for Walmart.

HUNTING EQUIPMENT
Brian Baer and Alan Hall of Zone Protects in Decatur, Alabama, presented three of the company’s 41 products. Baer has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arkansas and his daughter is a sophomore there. As CEO and co-founder of Zone Protects, Baer said the products are already selling well on Walmart.com. Earlier Wednesday, the team picked up their first gold card in the Zone Realtree Invisible Hunter Defender Bug Killer. Baer said the company makes all products in-house, and Walmart suggested 100 stores to start. Those stores will be in the busiest areas for hunting.

Brothers Sami and Rami Mubashen of Bastrop, Texas, are the first to market with their fully recycled golf balls, which they collect from ponds and neighborhoods surrounding golf courses. Since July of last year, the brothers said they had collected 32,000 golf balls for their products.

BasTex, his company, got a gold card to sell recycled golf balls at 50 stores to start with. While the business is already growing with 16 full-time employees and 12,000 square feet of warehouse space, the brothers said Walmart needed 40,000 balls a week for 100 stores, and the company’s entire weekly crop is 60,000. The brothers opted to start with 50 stores and use that revenue to help expand collection capacity so they can eventually scale up to 100 stores.

“We saw a gap in the market for a reliable and consistent product. We started to solve that problem and Clean Green Golf Balls were born. We have doubled our business in one year to $4.5 million in sales,” said Sami Mubashen. “We are excited to see how far we can take the company with this new partnership with Walmart.”

George Zalucki of Clearwater, Fla., is a retired firefighter turned entrepreneur. He presented the Hinge Hero to Walmart and also got a gold card. He said the product is made in Florida and that he is eager to work with Walmart to determine how many stores to start with the product, which is already sold on Walmart.com, Amazon.com and HingeOutlet.com.

BEIGNET MIX, EAZY PAZY
Micah and Heidi Stampley of Fayetteville, Ga., were thrilled to bring their Beignet Mix to Walmart stores. The couple is originally from southern Louisiana and ran a Creole restaurant in Georgia from 2017 to 2019 when a family tragedy sidelined the business. Micah said the Beignet mix is ​​the same recipe the couple used at their restaurant and the one customers continued to order after the shutdown.

Orleans Foods has reached an agreement to sell a 12-ounce beignet mix in Louisiana stores. The company works with a co-packer in Pearl, Miss., on the product. Heidi Stampley said the company is working on other Creole products for retail sale based on recipes inherited from their families. She said having the restaurant was a great training ground and test market that is now paying off.

Aundrea Dumas knows a thing or two about running a restaurant as the owner of a bakery for several years in Stockbridge, an Atlanta suburb. Her company, Eazy Peazy Cakes, was also a hit with Walmart shoppers on Wednesday as a top notch for the dairy department. Dumas explained that her product is sold in the dairy case as a premixed cake mix.

“All you do is shake the bottle, pour and bake. The product has a shelf life of 3 months in the refrigerator and 6 months frozen,” he said.

His company has five flavors and Walmart wanted all five but in a smaller package that also includes the frosting and other ingredients. The product is sold in a 16-ounce bottle on Macys.com and on QVC. Dumas said so many people wanted the cupcakes when he closed the bakery that he started providing them with the batter mix and they loved the option.

“With so many families eating at home and being very busy, this is a real time saver for a great dessert. Or for those who just want to make one or two cupcakes, they don’t have to use the whole bottle at once. Walmart wants a smaller bottle given limited shelf space for dairy, so I can easily make that happen,” he said.

Before the pandemic, Dumas had a frozen shrimp/crab cake product called Shrab Cakes that was sold in 1,000 Kroger and Costco stores. Dumas is a civil engineer who loves running the business, sharing recipes passed down from her mother and grandmother.

Dumas said she applied to Open Call after her WBENC (Women-Owned Business Enterprises National Council) representative encouraged her to do so. After two reminders, Dumas said she did it just to appease her friend.

“I forgot and then when the invitation came I couldn’t believe it. This is a big day for Eazy Peazy Cakes,” she said.

Walmart said it will update the media on Thursday with the total number of deals delivered on Wednesday.

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