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'The Richest Man in Town' is the true story of Marty, the lovable Walmart cashier from Brookings.
"The Richest Man in Town" is the true story of Marty, the lovable Walmart cashier from Brookings.

South Dakota Has Many Martys

Jan 11, 2012

My book club just finished reading “The Richest Man in Town,” the true story of a beloved Walmart cashier from Brookings, South Dakota, named Marty. Since the book was published over five years ago, it has gained both regional and national attention. The author, V.J. Smith, now travels all over the country speaking about the lessons learned from Marty.

If you haven’t read it, the kind old man was not rich at all. He lived a simple life with his wife and was very devoted to his job and the customers who came through his checkout line. He took extra effort to walk around the counter to shake every customer’s hand, sometimes even offering a hug. He actually listened to each patron and responded with more than just a simple “uh-huh” or “that’s nice.” Marty always took that extra step.

I love the story. I actually passed it around to my friends here at South Dakota Magazine. But, to be honest, I’m not that surprised. It is South Dakota after all. I know a handful of Martys, though maybe not to his level of fame.

Eric Tycz, for example, owned the Sportsmen’s Rendezvous in Tyndall. He pulled himself away from the kitchen every night to perform magic tricks for his customers. He called it a “Tyndall tradition” but in reality it was one more way to make his customers smile.

The young boy on the cover of our current issue is another example of “Martyism.” Four-year-old James Danh greets customers at Pho Quynh restaurant in Sioux Falls. Since the issue hit newsstands, we’ve received a flood of emails and calls from people who regularly visit the Vietnamese restaurant not only for the delicious food, but also the welcoming smile and silly jokes from James.

Who is the Marty in your community?


06:42 pm - Wed, January 11 2012
Bernie Hunhoff said:
Heidi, a fellow from IBM flew into Pierre today to meet with us at the legislature. Somebody sent a "cab" to pick him up, but it was actually a guy in some sort of retail delivery van.

The driver met him with gusto, and then insisted on driving him all around town to show him the capitol, the heritage center, the lake, and other sights.

Eventually the guy from IBM said, "Hey, I appreciate the tour but I have to be at the capitol...."

The driver apologized, but told him he just HAD to show him a couple of other places and then he'd get him over to the capitol. The IBM fellow, who came from Utah, was dumbfounded by the big welcome. We do have a unique style of hospitality.
10:55 am - Thu, January 12 2012
If anyone has the opportunity to hear VJ Smith give his inspirational sure to do so....
07:10 am - Tue, February 14 2012
V.J. Smith said:
Yes, there are a lot of great people throughout South Dakota. And, there's a boatload in the rest of the country, too.

Several years ago I was at a convention in St. Louis and heard a woman share an interesting story. She said her young son came home from school with the daunting assignment to find spiderwebs. The mother fretted while cooking the family meal as she didn't have a clue where to look. After the meal was eaten and dishes done, the woman and her son went outside in pursuit of the elusive webs. To her surprise, they found spiderwebs everywhere! The woman said, "It's amazing what you will find if you know what you're looking for."
07:23 am - Tue, February 14 2012
Heidi said:
Thanks for sharing your spiderweb story. I love this!

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