Wal-Mart spreads across America

This fascinating animation shows how Wal-Mart came to dominate the U.S. retail landscape (and physical landscape, for that matter), starting with a single store in Arkansas in 1962. Depending on how much you like Wal-Mart, it looks like either the rapid spread of a nasty green mold or a (literally) moving tribute to one of capitalism’s greatest successes. It’s fun to see how slowly the expansion starts in the 1960s and its halting growth until the early ’80s when there’s a virtual explosion in Wal-Marts across the central U.S. The animation really brings home how the Wal-Mart phenomenon didn’t happen overnight at all: The chain spent decades getting its strategy right before it was ready to take on the world.