# How much to buy out a WalMart?

In another thread I made mention of walking into a WalMart with a million dollars to spend. Somebody responded you could buy everything in the store for that much money.

Is that true? How much would it cost to buy every item on sale in an average WalMart?

This is probably one of those “How Would You Move Mount Fuji?” questions but I’m interested in any ballpark analysis people can offer.

This was discussed on a radio show here in Australia, it ended with a representative from the supermarket chain phoning the show and giving an average total for the goods on the floor at any one time (i.e. excluding the warehouse). This value is known for insurance purposes in case the store burns down. The trouble is I can’t remember what the value was, I think it might have been \$20 million AUD.

http://www3.valueline.com/dow30/f9638.pdf

Total inventory in 2009 of \$33B, total number of stores in 2009 8416. About \$4 million in inventory per store, on average.

Good answer Absolute, but keep in mind that part of the reported inventory will be in warehouses / distribution centers, in transit and in storerooms in the back of the stores. Wal-Mart has a very advanced logistics system, so on-the-floor inventory might be around \$3 million.

The electronics department alone is easily 250,000 US dollars of inventory. Considering the scope of all the electronics and automotive parts, you are over a half million US Dollars, and I am being conservative. That’s two departments. The rest, including, food, furniture, jewelry and home goods (vacuum cleaners, small appliances) and you are easily past a million. Don’t forget the garden center.

The question should evolve into: How much would it take to buy out WalMart’s inventory in one store?

A million? Not even close.

Ah, but what if you used coupons? Buy 40, get 10 free.
Sorry, I’ll be quiet now.

Well, in answering the question you have to distinguish between purchase price and sales price. WalMart is a retailer, so they calculate with quite a significant margin between the two (that’s precisely the business model of retailing, after all). So to refer back to Philster’s example, while the total sales price of the goods in the electronics section might be half a million, it would cost WalMart considerably less to replenish stocks after Little Nemo bought out the place. Especially in consumer electronics, the profit margin of the retailer can be quite high.

I suppose if you went to the WalMart store manager and offered to buy out the entire store, he or she would give you a very substantial discount over shelf prices. The profit margins should leave some space for such a discount.

With my luck I’d get into the express line behind the guy buying out the store. And he’d have coupons.

Yeah, not to mention he’s paying with Canadian money, which always flummoxes the checkers there.

For purposes of the exercise, however, assume we pay the normal sticker price on every item.

Do you have to buy every item on sale, or does it count if you just buy one of everything? I mean, if I walked in there with a million bucks, I probably still wouldn’t want 20 copies of Madden '11.

And all the while griping about how he could live for a year on the reward if he had bought out a Canadian Tire instead.

Everything in the store. Two hundred copies of this week’s issue of People magazine and all the rest.

Not in Canadian WalMarts. Though paying with Canadian Tire money might not work.

You probably could never do this.

While you were busy running every item in the store by the checkout clerk (how many days would that take, anyway?) the Wal-Mart inventory system would have initiated restocking orders for the store. Semi-truck loads of new stock would be arriving at the back door of the store while you were running shopping cart loads of merchandise up to the checkout clerk. You would never catch up!

Why would they insist on ringing it all up? You could just give them a check for current inventory - after kicking all the other customers out the door. I guess you would have to have a crew and lots of your own trucks to haul it all off.

I wonder how long it would take the store to restock and open the doors again to the general public?

If you’re going to raise practical objections, I technically don’t have a million dollars either.

OK, that’s it. Outa the store.

Somehow I don’t picture Walmart throwing customers out or closing down a store for the one eccentric customer promising to buy everything. Those customers are their base that keep them in business everyday.

I’m sure they’d sit down with anyone looking to drop tons of cash and work out a way to do it. Most likely by simply shipping from their fulfillment center to wherever you want the product.

If you some crazy person that can’t work with Walmart and insists they operate on your terms by closing down or emptying one of their stores completely they’ll probably just tell you ‘yeah whatever guy anything you take to the register we’ll ring up for you’

Wouldn’t the insurance value be the wholesale value? I think Little Nemo is looking for the retail cost.