WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2019—After more than 40 years in business, Sweety Ice Cream, an Asian American family-owned and operated confectionary manufacturer of multi-flavored mochi treats in Monterey Park, Calif., achieved a dream held by entrepreneurs and small business owners nationwide. During Walmart’s sixth annual Open Call event in Bentonville, Ark., Sweety Ice Cream learned that they had earned shelf space at select stores to sell their American-made mochi ice creams.
Sweety Ice Cream was one of hundreds of businesses invited to Walmart’s Home Office to pitch their products directly to Walmart buyers, hoping to secure a deal with the world’s largest retailer. Walmart offered everyone attending and with shelf-stable items an opportunity to sell on Walmart.com. As a result of their pitches, many entrepreneurs and small businesses are continuing conversations with Walmart buyers – Sweety Ice Cream was one of only several companies that received a deal on the spot to be on Walmart store shelves.
“By selecting Sweety Ice Cream as one of its newest suppliers, Walmart is standing by its commitment to finding the best products made, sourced or grown in the U.S. through its partnership with small businesses owned by Asian Americans and other minorities,” said Ms. Chiling Tong, President and CEO of National ACE. “When businesses have an opportunity to work with retailers like Walmart, they’ll be able to share their inspiration with others, fueling innovation and creating new jobs.”
Two of Sweety Ice Cream’s executives, Mr. Sean Lee, Co-CEO and Ms. Tiffany Yang, Chief Marketing Officer, were among Walmart’s Open Call participants and were thrilled to be with entrepreneurs and business owners from every part of the country. Mr. Lee and Ms. Yang were also on stage when Walmart executives asked them for an immediate sales deal.
“We are ecstatic but also surprised by this amazing opportunity to work with Walmart,” said Stacey Lee, Sweety Ice Cream Co-CEO and daughter of the company’s founders.
“None of us expected to be given an immediate opportunity to sell our mochi ice cream at Walmart. We’ll now be able to grow our business, add new flavors, and share our mochi ice creams with a broader audience.”
“As the second generation shepherds of the Sweety Ice Cream business, we’re proud to continue our family’s heritage of making high quality Asian desserts. It’s a dream come true for us and our parents to have Sweety mochi sold on Walmart shelves,” said Sean Lee, Sweety Ice Cream Co-CEO and son of the company’s founders.
More than two million businesses are owned and operated by Asian Americans. Walmart works closely with its stores and with national and regional business leaders to find more U.S.-manufactured goods and services that also create new and sustainable American jobs. One of Walmart’s community partners is Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (National ACE), an organization whose mission is to address the needs, interests, and aspirations of business owners, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders of Asian and Pacific Islander American heritage.
At Walmart’s Open Call, small business owners and entrepreneurs spoke about their products with Walmart buyers. In addition to pitch meetings, the two-day program offered attendees an opportunity to speak with Walmart executives and other aspiring suppliers; learn from current suppliers about how to prepare their products for a broader market; and receive tips on how to grow their businesses. Walmart executives including Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart Inc., addressed the supplier-hopefuls, emphasizing the company’s commitment to buying locally produced goods.
“Whenever I meet entrepreneurs or small business owners, many of them believe it is next to impossible to become a supplier to Walmart,” said Joanne Tabellija-Murphy, Director of Corporate Affairs at Walmart. “However, when they hear success stories that involve small mom-and-pop companies such as Sweety Ice Cream, their reaction quickly changes to: ‘that could be my company, too.’ It is a great feeling to work with organizations such as National ACE and Sweety Ice Cream and our associates at Walmart to help small business owners realize their dreams.”