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Thread: The mini-Walmarts* are coming

  1. #1
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The mini-Walmarts* are coming

    I was talking to a contractor last week and he was telling me about a new product Walmart is developing. He called them "mini-Walmarts" and told me up to 400 of these were planned in the southeast. Larger than a 7-11 but smaller than a typical grocery store. Basically, he told me the new focus is rural and small town communities and targeting the success of Dollar Generals and their ilk. I know there are areas in my county where they would thrive. A quick Google search uncovered this article.

    http://www.twice.com/article/465489-...ini_Stores.php

    What's your perspective on this marketing strategy and have you been in one of these new products? When they arrive here, I'll be sure to post pictures. You should, too.

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Interesting. It's the opposite of how Kresge grew from a chain of dime stores into Kmart. For a while in the 1960s and 1970s, one could find both smaller Kresge stores and larger Kmart boxes in the same city.

    “At our peak we built about 350 supercenters in a year, so when we get this thing right, these are going to come real fast, and we’re real excited about this format.” . “At our peak we built about 350 supercenters in a year, so when we get this thing right, these are going to come real fast, and we’re real excited about this format.”
    Probably one reason why Walmart is starting this concept in the Southeast. The same communities that allowed prefab, shed-like Dollar General stores to be built by the hundreds likely don't have zoning codes in place preventing a bare-bones mini-Walmart prototype from being built.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Interesting ... I had read that the mini format would target urban areas, but it makes sense that they see a market in under-served small towns. Would be great if a general store model (maybe like the Ace hardware model) that allowed for more local ownership could thrive, but then again if the merchandise would be from China anyway, I'm not sure how much it would benefit the community ...

    I actually like the idea of this type of format coming into urban areas, if they do (though I don't necessarily like the quality of merchandise - the stuff meant to last 3 years before its thrown out and replaced.) While the districts of bars and boutiques are fine, I think to provide true city living, some of our urban areas need the basics available in a walkable retail format ... where I live, its not as if we have independent retailers offering the same types of goods a mini-walmart would, so one ends up driving to Target once every couple months anyway.

  4. #4
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I really support this type of development provided when they enter the Pacific northwest, they target the neighborhood of the adulteress business.
    Last edited by Richmond Jake; 02 Oct 2011 at 6:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    They have one in downtown Chicago already and more on the way here. I think it only sells groceries though.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Basically, he told me the new focus is rural and small town communities and targeting the success of Dollar Generals and their ilk. I know there are areas in my county where they would thrive.
    But hasn't that been the case all along? Walmart has been absolutely *dominating* rural and small town communities for decades. There are plenty of small towns out there where the only place to get life's necessities is at Walmart; the Main Street is either rotting or long-since replaced with fast food joints.

    My guess is that they want to hedge their bets with the big box model they were comfortable with for the past couple decades. The biggest competition with Walmart these days is not Target or Kmart, but, as you said, with dollar stores. That's how poor people are - the big box 'department store' model may not survive if people get even poorer (almost guaranteed).

    So Walmart needs insurance now, and what better way to get it than to move one rung lower on the ladder? And since urban areas are positively loaded with dollar stores, that's the perfect place to move in and snatch up the market. (History shows us that Walmart prefers to set up shop in places that aren't necessarily remote from existing retail; that is, in places where it already is well established so Walmart can soak up - "capture" - the existing commerce.)

    If the mini-Walmarts are gonna focus mostly on groceries, I can see them becoming real popular in urban "food deserts," but otherwise they're just going to soak up and replace the existing dollar stores. Parasitic business as usual.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    very interesting... definitely a sign of the times with smaller lot size, reduced setback, and fewer parking spaces per building.

  8. #8
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    They will be crazy successful. It is funny, if we could just get retailers to buy into the walkable concept, development would be pushed that way instead of big boxes.

    I look forward to what Walmarts crack architecture team come up with for style and design...
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I remember driving through Louisville, KY a couple years back and seeing a bunch of Walmart Markets. These were just regular grocery stores with the Walmart name attached. I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen more of them around the country to compete directly with some of the smaller regional chains. Obviously a Supercenter can do it too but these Markets can be placed in smaller shopping centers.

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Target in Australia has a similar concept: Target Country. Target in Australia is a notch downscale from those in the US, though, so the concept probably works well there. I have doubts the rural US would respond well to Le Petite Targét. I think Target recognizes this; there's the smaller-format City Target stores that are planned for urban areas, with no rural equivalent.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Walmart may have a hard time getting into these markets. DG and FD have had a stronghold in rural america for quite some time because its just not worth driving a 30 -50 mile round trip to the Super Walmart to get toilet paper. DG and FD are also now entrenching themselves into lower income urban and suburban markets. Its like being last to the ball and wondering why you can't get any chicks.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    But if Walmart can do it with name brand products, they will establish a strong beach head.

    It's pretty smart of Walmart. Many of the places they will go into will have the excess capacity (in terms of infrastructure) to accommodate a form/model that existed ther in the past and probably get a much better cost to revenue per buiding sqft.

    Plus, I bet in many places that the big box model is warranted the trade areas are saturated between their own existing stores and competitors.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  13. #13
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    But if Walmart can do it with name brand products, they will establish a strong beach head.
    Umm both do sell name brand goods. The wife has spoiled ya. Its almost like you've never lived up north or in a college town!
    http://www.familydollar.com/pages/hotitems.aspx
    http://www2.dollargeneral.com/Ads-an...ular-HTML.aspx
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Duh (I got those confused with Aldis/Save-a-lot), but those stores also sell general merch too. If a mini Walmart can simply stick to mainly groceries and good produce/meats, they'll make good headway into the market(s).

    Bascially, if they can beat the Aldis and Save-a-lots, they'll easily be able to exist with Family Dollar/Dollar General.
    Last edited by mendelman; 04 Oct 2011 at 10:41 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  15. #15
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Bascially, if they can beat the Aldis and Save-a-lots, they'll easily be able to exist with Family Dollar/Dollar General.
    Unlikely. Even Wal-Mart store brands are more expensive than Aldi store brands. Also, Aldi has an unusual (for the US) store structure that is much less labor-intensive; there's usually just a cashier or two, and a manager that also stocks, cleans, and the like. Even Save-a-Lot is more labor-intensive than Aldi.

    FWIW, Canada is getting Lidl soon, so it could be interesting to compare the two European bare-bones retail concepts on this continent.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Wal-Market Marketside ( http://www.marketside.com/ ) is being tested in the Phoenix area for the past 4 years. It feels like a Fresh and Easy, 20k sq ft mostly groceries and prepared meals. I am not a huge fan of the small store concept and drive past Marketside to get to Safeway for two reasons. The small stores take just as long to find items and I don't shop at Wal Mart.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  17. #17
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Unlikely. Even Wal-Mart store brands are more expensive than Aldi store brands.
    But Aldis doesn't carry any name brands. Walmart surely will and that's what the mass market wants - name brands at Walmart prices.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    But Aldis doesn't carry any name brands. Walmart surely will and that's what the mass market wants - name brands at Walmart prices.
    Aldi will occasionally carry a few name brand products, but the vast majority of its products are house brand.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    Well, not to mention this 'gets' Walmart into the communities that before didn't meet their minimum criteria. For example, where I grew up in rural West Texas, there are only three urban centers (and small urban centers at that) in several thousand square miles. While it isn't profitable to drill down to the more local level and put big boxes in these seas of small towns of 500 - 10,000 people, this model would likely be very successful. These are people still driving 1-3 hours one way for a massive monthly grocery trip. Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and other areas in the south would likely be very supportive of this type of format. It diversifies the offerings for Walmart.

    That said, my feelings for Walmart are not much improved having heard this.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by developmentguru View post
    Well, not to mention this 'gets' Walmart into the communities that before didn't meet their minimum criteria. For example, where I grew up in rural West Texas, there are only three urban centers (and small urban centers at that) in several thousand square miles. While it isn't profitable to drill down to the more local level and put big boxes in these seas of small towns of 500 - 10,000 people, this model would likely be very successful. These are people still driving 1-3 hours one way for a massive monthly grocery trip. Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and other areas in the south would likely be very supportive of this type of format. It diversifies the offerings for Walmart.

    That said, my feelings for Walmart are not much improved having heard this.
    Good point.

    And on the opposite end, my guess is that Walmart's RE development team will be seeking out dense urban/downtown areas which lack walkable access to a grocery store to place these. I don't know much about dollar store development practices, but I'm guessing Walmart is better equipped, as a company, to get a stranglehold on these areas.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Isn't the mini wal-mart what we need in our urban areas for them to really succeed? Granted I am not a fan of Wal-marts products or business model, but the idea of smaller places that sell real food in urban areas is dramatically needed.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Is Wal-Mart ontologically BAD qua es Wal-Mart or is Wal-Mart bad because, among ohter things, they perpetuate an absurd level of car dependency - locational isolation?

    I'm all for having a nice, warm scapegoat feeling that some people and corporations are beyond redemption, but isn't it a good thing if everyday low prices are brought within walking distance of folks?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    It's more has to do with Walmart's whole business model of bringing "big city prices to small towns." This sounds reasonable in theory but the whole scale that Walmart operates at completely shuts out competition and destroys local businesses. These mini-Walmarts could just make matters worse by entering smaller markets where Walmart was not previously viable.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    A proposal for a 90K SF Walmart to anchor mixed use shoehorned cheek&jowl with giant university campus in adjacent county has that community in an uproar.

    90K ain't small as Dollar General but sure isn't typical BigBox either.

    Biggest prob associated w/proposal is traffic, which is routinely snarled by presence of 35K students and 8K faculty/staff.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    We have one opening soon. For almost two decades our community has successfully fought off walmart through conditional zoning of big box retailers. But the felw in under the radar into a recently vacated smaller storefront (think 40k s.f. or so). This community has been very locally oriented, principally due to the isolation (4 hours from the nearest big city), and small business has generally thrived. Even at the smaller square footage it is going to be an interesting case study.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

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