BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Entrepreneurs and small business owners may apply for the opportunity to gain shelf space at Walmart or Sam’s Club stores or on

Bentonville-based Walmart Inc. has opened registration for its annual Open Call event, part of the retailer’s 10-year, $350 billion commitment to sourcing products that are made, grown or assembled in the United States.

“This year’s application period is a special one as Walmart approaches a decade of providing Open Call opportunities,” said Jason Fremstad, senior vice president of supplier development for Walmart. “Open Call began back in 2014, when Walmart first opened its doors to more than 500 businesses with dreams of selling their US-made products to millions of Walmart customers.

“Since then, Open Call has provided more and more opportunities, with over 1,100 small and medium businesses participating last year — making Open Call 2022 Walmart’s biggest one yet. Today, Open Call is the largest sourcing event for Walmart and Sam’s Club.”

Walmart’s Open Call is held in partnership with RangeMe, a product discovery and sourcing platform connecting retailers and suppliers. The company is accepting applications through Aug. 18 at Finalists will receive access to mentoring sessions and educational programming as well as one-on-one pitch meetings with Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants during the two-day event Oct. 24-25.

Sweety Ice Cream co-founders Stacey Lee and Tiffany Yang said participating in Walmart’s Open Call “completely transformed our business.” The Monterey Park, Calif.-based company manufactures Japanese-style mochi ice cream “with a Golden State twist” in a range of flavors including matcha green tea, ube purple yam, azuki red bean and classic chocolate.

“Before Open Call, we were in largely small, independent, largely ethnic grocery stores, and now we are in over 2,000 Walmart stores nationally,” Lee said. “It’s allowed us to really grow our business in ways that we really never imagined. We’ve been able to hire more people, invest in additional production capacity. We are even looking at expanding and opening another branch right now to keep up with all of our demand.”

Furthering its efforts to strengthen American manufacturing, Walmart launched its Lead with Local snacks initiative earlier this year. The program has expanded to more than 130 stores across the country, Fremstad said.

“Through this initiative, Walmart sells locally made snacks prominently in stores, connecting customers to products from businesses in their hometowns,” he added.