Kai Ryssdal: It was good times today in Fayetteville, Ark. Walmart wrapped up its annual shareholders meeting. One might have thought that with the company facing bribery and corruption investigations into its businesses in Mexico, the mood might have been somewhat subdued.
But as it happens, this year’s meeting is also the 50th anniversary party for the world’s biggest retailer. And Marketplace’s Eve Troeh reports controversy hasn’t dampened the celebrations, so far.
Eve Troeh: Any protesters against Walmart probably got drowned out by this:
Aerosmith singing “Dream On”
Last night, Aerosmith rocked a stadium of Walmart shareholders and employees from all over the world. This morning, Walmart’s CEO reassured stockholders the company stands for integrity.
Punctuated by Celine Dion.
Celine Dion: You’re here there’s nothing I fear, and I know that my heart will go on.
No one said, “Our profits will go on.” But the stars are not there to show company strength. Just to add sparkle, says Steve Einzig with bookingentertainment.com.
Steve Einzig: By the very nature of a shareholders’ meeting, it doesn’t sound that exciting. But you put a big concert with it and it becomes an event.
A week-long bonanza, actually.
Tammy Still: It’s huge. My best friend’s daughter was in line at 4:30 this morning to get in.
Tammy Still lives near Bentonville. She says to locals it’s called, simply, “Shareholders.”
Still: Shoot, I remember when Britney Spears was new and she performed, she and Brandy performed together at Shareholders’ one night.
But no concerts for Tammy today. She’s busy renting out canoes and unlocking cabins.
Still: I’m at Camp Tilden, on Big Sugar. Big Sugar Creek.
That’s where Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, reportedly held company meetings decades ago. Staff float trips and campouts. No titans of industry at Big Sugar Creek today, just a few families.
Still: They fish, and they catch crawdads, and play volleyball.
Far from the frenzy of today’s Walmart shareholders.
I’m Eve Troeh for Marketplace.
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