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Bentonville landmark due to reopen

The Walmart Visitor Center in downtown Bentonville is set to reopen on May 21 after undergoing extensive renovations, which means the new facility will be able to accommodate the thousands of Walmart employees who will descend on the town for the company’s annual meeting on June 3.

The new and larger center is still located on the downtown Bentonville Square where Sam Walton opened his first five-and-dime store and is still dedicated to the heritage of the founder and history of the company, but aside from the location and mission, the new facility will be a major upgrade with some significant changes.

Additions will include a working five-and-dime store, complete with vintage toys, games and candies, and the Spark Café for casual sidewalk coffees, baked goods and treats. Perhaps most importantly, the center will introduce an expanded gallery where visitors can view a variety of new and restored items significant to Walmart’s history. There will be new interactive digital displays, video and audio clips of the company’s history and a timeline that will highlight the early years of retail in Walton’s personal and professional life while paying tribute to the associates and family members who contributed to the company’s growth and success.

“Preserving this historic landmark and redesigning and archiving one of the greatest stories in business history has been both a humbling and rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Alan Dranow, director of brand communication for Walmart.

“After listening, planning and sharing information, we believe the next generation of visitors, associates and neighbors to the center will experience a much deeper understanding of Walmart and enjoy a little taste of Americana while they’re here.”

Some things won’t change. Visitors will still see a replica of Walton’s iconic Ford pickup and fully preserved office and desk.