Walmart invites 17 entrepreneurs to 5th annual Open Call event

Walmart recently surprised local business owners with an invitation to , an annual event in which hundreds of entrepreneurs get the chance to pitch their products to Walmart buyers for a chance to land on Walmart store shelves and walmart.com. The unsuspecting business owners were asked to come to their local Walmart store prepared to pitch their product to a store manager, while the store manager was waiting for the opportunity to share that their spot at the coveted event had already been secured. Open Call is scheduled for June 13 at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

“We are thrilled to continue Walmart’s commitment to U.S. manufacturing by officially inviting more than 400 entrepreneurs for this year’s Open Call,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of Merchandise Services and U.S. Manufacturing. “This is an exciting opportunity not only for Walmart as we continue to offer new products to customers at an everyday low price, but also for these hard-working individuals who are now a step closer to making their dreams come true.”

“I’m thrilled that there’s a chance Walmart could place an order for the cream I’ve been working hard on for five years,” said Star Ridsdale, owner of New Mexico -based SW Therapy and Rehab. Ridsdale hopes that her pain-relieving cream will end up in the hands of millions of Walmart customers. “This could be a dream come true. I developed this product to help my mother with debilitating arthritis. I know it works and I hope that it will help many more people coping with pain and anxiety.”

“Our mission at The Drop Stoppers is to make the lives of busy parents just a little bit easier,” commented JoyLynn Waganer, Owner and Creator of The Drop Stoppers, based in St. Peters, MO. “Having a relationship with Walmart will allow us to spread the word to an even larger community and help parents all over. In addition to saving a little sanity across the country, as The Drop Stoppers grow we look forward to being able to create additional part-time, flexible jobs - perfect for local moms.”

Other businesses that received the surprising news include:

In all, 17 businesses were surprised – including women-, diverse-, and veteran-owned businesses. Hundreds more received an e-mail notification of acceptance to Open Call shortly after the surprise announcements. Invitees will travel to Walmart’s headquarters next month from 48 states and Puerto Rico for one-on-one meetings with Walmart buyers. Some deals will happen on the spot, while others may take more time with follow-ups between buyers and potential suppliers after the event has ended.

Attendees at this year’s Open Call could secure deals ranging from a handful of stores in a local market, to supplying hundreds or even thousands of stores, Sam’s Club locations and Walmart.com. The daylong event informs, empowers and encourages all who attend while providing a great networking opportunity for local entrepreneurs. In addition, for the third year in a row, Walmart will offer suppliers with shelf-stable items the opportunity to sell on Walmart.com.

In January 2013, Walmart announced it intends to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs over 10 years. Based on data from Boston Consulting Group, it’s estimated that 1 million new U.S. jobs will be created through this initiative.