In 1979, the co-founders of Home Depot planned to start the company with four locations in Atlanta. But when it came time to stock the shelves, they couldn't afford to buy enough merchandise.
"Well, we opened two up because we didn't have enough money," Ken Langone, the 82-year-old billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, tells CNBC Make It. "And in fact we didn't have enough money for those two."
In a pinch, the merchandising guru of the group, Pat Farrah, asked suppliers to give Home Depot empty boxes in lieu of actual merchandise, Langone, now worth $3.3 billion, tells CNBC Make It.
"Pat Farrah, one of the four founders — Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and me — Pat went out and persuaded the vendors, 'OK, you won't give us any more merchandise because you're afraid we will be able to pay you. Give us empty boxes with your labels on,'" Langone says. The suppliers obliged.