By Jessica Shambora
June 5, 2009

“We need to see ourselves and conduct ourselves not as Goliath, but as David—not as a giant, but as a nimble and innovative competitor in every market.”

— Wal-Mart

CEO Mike Duke at Friday’s annual meeting for shareholders and employees in Fayetteville.  Fortune‘s Suzanne Kapner attended the gathering, which given Wal-Mart’s success in this economy, was more of a celebration. Actor Ben Stiller emceed a program with surprise performances from Miley Cyrus and Smokey Robinson at the University of Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena. (Click here for the full transcript of Duke’s remarks.)

Skeptics doubt the behemoth retailer can maintain this momentum once the economy turns around, but Duke predicts a permanent shift in consumer behavior. “We are not going back. This is important because the mindset of our customers is not going back…our customers will stay with us when this economy turns around and they have more discretionary money to spend.” To keep growing, says Duke, Wal-Mart will aspire to be nimble like David, not Goliath. A promising strategy considering its the one founder Sam Walton followed in making Wal-Mart a household name, saying “The bigger Wal-Mart gets, the more essential it is that we think small. Because that’s exactly how we’ve become a huge corporation—by not acting like one.” –Jessica Shambora

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