The Wal-Mart economy's big winners

For a small business owner, an order from Wal-Mart means access to the 200 million customers who visit each week, plus the chance to grow sales and hire more employees. Meet four lucky owners.

Planted 2 million trees, thanks to Wal-Mart

project 7 walmart suppliers
  • Company: Project 7, Costa Mesa, Calif.
  • What it sells: Chewing gum. Company plants a tree for every pack of gum sold

Five years ago, Tyler Merrick came up with an idea for customers to give back to the environment just by buying a pack of gum. Project 7 was born -- for every pack sold, the company plants a tree.

Merrick was peddling the chewing gum at a trade show in New York City in 2011 when a Wal-Mart representative asked him to come to the company's headquarters. Wal-Mart executives liked his pitch and agreed to test the gum in a couple hundred stores.

It was a hit, and Wal-Mart started carrying the gum in 1,500 stores within a few months. Today, the gum is sold at all Wal-Mart stores nationwide.

Merrick says it's been huge for Project 7, which employs eight people. He said Project 7 has planted 2 million trees from its relationship with Wal-Mart. With the increased demand from Wal-Mart, Project 7 ramped up production, leading to an extra 100 manufacturing jobs at the factories that make the gum.

-- Have you ever been a Wal-Mart supplier? Send your story to
  @emilyjanefox - Last updated March 19 2013 05:00 PM ET

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