10 small businesses that turned into massive empires

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Ben & Jerry's

Mom-and-pop shops can be found in every city around the world, though they face huge competition from larger corporations, including Walmart, Target, chain grocery stores, and more. Because of the size difference, it can be hard for these smaller businesses to compete, but some of the biggest and most successful companies got their start this way. Many of these small business owners probably never thought they would turn into international corporations. However, if there is a will and enough force behind a vision, it can certainly happen.

Companies like Ikea, Walmart, Ben & Jerry’s and Mattel are just a few examples of companies who started out with one small idea and turned that idea into an international conglomerate. Of these examples, Walmart is probably the greatest success. The big-box store began as a mom-and-pop business in 1950 when Sam Walton opened Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville, Arkansas. Today, Walmart has more than 2 million employees and 8,500 stores around the world.

Check out these 10 small businesses that turned into massive empires.

#1 – Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market began in 1978 when John Mackey and Rene Lawson Hardey opened up Safer Way Natural Foods in Austin, Texas. Later on, the couple partnered with Craig Willer and Mark Skiles of Clarksville Natural Grocery. Together, they merged the stores to create the first Whole Foods Market in 1980. Now, the grocery chain dominates the industry and is a Fortune 500 company.

#2 – Mattel


Mattel began in 1945 when Ruth and Elliot Handler and Harold “Matt” Matson launched the toy company by setting up shop in a garage workshop in Southern California. While its first products were picture frames, Mattel built on the success of Elliot’s dollhouse furniture business. Mattel revolutionized the industry by advertising on the Mickey Mouse Club and creating the first Barbie doll in 1959. Despite recalls in recent years, Mattel remains a trendsetter in the toy industry.

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#3 – Energy Brands

Energy Brands

Energy Brands, also called Glacéau, is a private subsidiary of Coca-Cola Company. It is best known for water products like Vitaminwater and Smartwater. The company was founded in 1996 by J. Darius Bikoff. The founder sold his enhanced drinks to independent retailers, health food stores, and mom-and-pop shops around New York City. Bikoff’s idea took off and he expanded the drinks to national distribution. The Glacéau line of beverages became the top-selling enhanced water brand in America in 2002 and the company sold in 2007 to Coca-Cola.

#4 – Walmart


Walmart began in 1950 when Sam Walton opened Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walton raked in higher sales volumes because he marked up items slightly less than his competitors. Using this technique, Walton opened the first Wal-Mart Discount City store in Rogers, Arkansas and expanded to 24 stores over the course of five years. Since then, Walmart has expanded to all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. It also operates the Sam’s Club stores.

#5 – Party Pieces

Party Pieces

Party Pieces was started by Carole and Michael Middleton, the parents of Princess Catherine Middleton. Carole launched the company when she became frustrated that she couldn’t find affordable party bags for her children’s parties. Her husband eventually quit his job to help run the business in the family’s backyard shed. Party Pieces is now one of the largest online and catalog party companies in the UK.

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Written by Melissa Stusinski

Melissa Stusinski

Melissa Stusinksi is a professional journalist. She has written for some of the biggest news websites in the United States. She loves spending time outdoors and reading books in her spare time. She can be reached at MelissaStusinski@BusinessPundit.com or (929) 265-0240.