Having started this thread last September I'd like to provide the forum with an update. Plans for a 2nd Wal-Mart super center are proceeding. Other retailers have reacted in different ways. Albertsons canceled plans for a retail grocery supercenter that was to be located about half a mile from the new Wal-Mart site. Sadly, the new Albertsons would have redeveloped a long closed Ernst hardware center - a big box blight.
The old Wal-Mart is to be torn down and the site rebuilt by Lowes, which is going head to head with a Home Depot less than a quarter mile away. The Home Depot has a mixed reputation for customer service, and an Ace Hardware store a block away has thrived by providing excellent service to customers. In its press package Lowes promoted its customer service approach to retail sales.
The new Wal-Mart site has a definite appeal to travelers being at the intersection of Interstate 15, a major N/S route from Canada to Salt Lake City, and US 20, which connects Idaho Falls with Yellowstone National Park 105 miles to the North.
The new Wal-Mart site already has a Fairfield Inn motel (budget class) and a Wendys. Meanwhile, on the East side of town, a Chuck-o-Rama restaurant (all you can eat for $7) will open next month in the Wal-Mart center.
In short, the new Wal-Mart appears to be designed, at least in part, to cater to drop off / easy on traffic from the two major highways because the nearest residential areas are at least half a mile away.
The local newspaper does not have a defined business page, and only one reporter who has "business" as his "beat." Despite the fact that the trade area has tripled in the past decade from about 80,000 to three times that number, the paper's publisher does not see the need for expanding business news coverage. After sending an inquiry to the reporter and the publisher about the question of the business case for the new Wal-Mart, both expressed little curiosity in pursuing the issue. I wonder why?