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  • Sorry John-Boy, but Sam's Club is real

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The Waltons of our childhood lived as a tight-knit family during the Great Depression in a rambling old house in the middle of rural Virginia. The Waltons of today live as a tight-knit family during the Great Recession in rambling mansions across several states.

Today's Waltons are, of course, the heirs of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. And and once again they crowd the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans, with combined wealth approaching $100 billion.

The tired irony is that no one who sprung from the gene pool of Sam Walton, who lived through the Great Depression, will ever resemble John-Boy Walton or anyone else who is price conscious—the exact type of consumers who have made Walmart so successful. I don't begrudge them that; I'm just fascinated by the vast sums of their net worth.

For instance, Christy Walton, the heiress and widow of son John Walton, who died in a 2005 plane crash, is worth $24.5 billion. By comparison, Macy's Inc. posted 2011 sales of $25.7 billion—eking her about by a slim $1.2 billion.

Christy Walton is followed by Jim Walton ($21.1 billion); Alice Walton ($20.9 billion); S. Robson Walton ($20.5 billion); Ann Walton Kroenke ($3.3 billion); and Nancy Walton Laurie ($2.7 billion). According to the "Ace Information Director," the family's combined dividends alone amount to $1 billion.

The richest person in America is, once again, is Bill Gates, with a net worth of $59 billion.

Today's Walton family built its mountainous fortune on low prices. The Walton family of the 1970s lived by a mountain and purchased very little. Both make for good stories but, go figure, it is the latter family that is pure fiction

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Latest posts by Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.
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