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14 Arizona small businesses prep for big Walmart sales pitch

Posted at 5:42 AM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 10:25:39-04

Fourteen small and medium-sized businesses in Arizona will get the opportunity on Thursday to pitch their products to buyers for Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.

“It would completely change our business… for sure,” Melissa Eastin, one of those selected business owners, told ABC15. Eastin is the founder of Bees4Seas, a company that produces a beeswax replacement for plastic wrap.

“I’ve actually been watching Shark Tank pitches — just watching hundreds of them — going to the gym and watching one after another to try and get it in my mind what I should be looking and sounding like,” she said.

Walmart’s Open Call, an annual event, will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of businesses across the country applied to take part with around 850 selected to pitch, including 14 in Arizona.

Gina Haynie, founder of Future Pharm, a supplement company that produces products utilizing liposomal delivery in the body, was also among the Arizona companies selected. “It would be wonderful,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”

The event comes at a critical time as hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the U.S. have been forced to close due to the pandemic. Haynie said at one point earlier this year, she ran out of product twice due to supplier issues tied to the pandemic.

According to Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson, the Open Call event fits into the company’s goal of investing $250 billion over 10 years to create more American jobs.

“If the [companies] have a successful meeting with a Walmart buyer that decision may be made at that point that they are shelf-ready,” he said. “They may also get a version of ‘yes’ where the buyer wants to continue talking to them, continue talking about their product development.”

All of the entrepreneurs must have a product that is created, sourced, assembled or grown in the U.S.

"It would be wonderful to get these eco-friendly options in the hands of so many people around the United States because we know that people are looking for these alternatives,” Eastin said.