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Two Wal-Mart supercenters in one town?

djysrv

Member
Messages
22
Points
2
Has anyone else had the experience of hosting two Wal-Mart Super Centers in one community?

I write from Idaho Falls, ID, a community with population 50,000 and with a largely rural trade area of about five times that number sperad over three states ID, WY, MT). Last winter Wal-Mart opened a Super Center, and I mean this is a BIG store, on the east edge of town. This week (9/22/03) the firm announced it would build another Super Center of equal or greater size, plus three stand alone restaurant pads, at the interchange of a state highway and the Interstate highway that bisect the western edge of the city. The distance between the two Super Center sites is less than five miles.

What is the rationale for this marketing approach? Has anyone else seen this in their community? We've always assumed that Wal-Mart is playing to the regional trade area. This new site suggests the chain is acting like a traditional grocery firm like Albertsons. Typically, grocery stores in our community serve a circular geographic area of 1-2 miles.

I'd be grateful for information from others who have two Wal-Mart Super Centers in the same town, especially a small one, and how they impacted the local and regional economy. Pointers to formal studies or reports available in electronic form would be appreciated.

Dan Yurman
Member, Idaho Falls Planning Commission
Idaho Falls, ID
Personal email: djysrv@yahoo.com

Standard disclaimer included by reference.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
St. Joseph Missouri has two located five miles apart at either end of town. Pop 80K. As to their reasoning in site selection...I guess you would have to ask them.
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
The area where I reside currently hosts 3 Wal-Mart Super Centers approximately 5-7 miles or a 10 minute drive apart from one another.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
It does seem counter-intuitive. Wal-Mart's greatest margins are on the hardlines, and the larger part of their superstores is still devoted to these items. With a very extended trade area, the specific store location has less meaning. It is not as if somebody driving fifty miles from the east won't drive another five miles to get to a store on the west side of town. Is there any reason to suspect that they may open the new store and close the old one? For instance, is it impossible to expand the old store? Is the new location a much stronger commercial area?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Market absorption - they keep other mega box competitors completely shut out of the market.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I'll second chet's comment and add - they like to either close out an area or be in an area perceived as th eplace to be.

Moncton has two, one in the new big box / power centre the other in the traditional mall centre. Both are in excess of 100 000 sq feet. Both are insanely busy as destination shopping. The market area there is realistically, PEI, half of NB and half of NS.(Probably 400 000)

They are building another store nearby in NS, but until NS get sunday shopping the two in Moncton promise to be busy.
 

MitchBaby

Cyburbian
Messages
198
Points
7
have I mentioned that I HATE WALMART

I don't think any planner can actually say they like walmart. God that place is annoying!!! Up here in Canada, they have grown, but are still fairly restricted in major cities. There was one planned for the City of Vancouver, but the city refused the development permit because of "traffic concerns". Thank-god for small mercies.

On the other side of the equation, however, is CostCo, which is building an Urban Costco right in the downtown core - as the base to a major condominium development; their primary clinentele will be walk in and not traffic. Suffice to say, I like costco alot more than walmart.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: have I mentioned that I HATE WALMART

West Coast Canadian said:
I don't think any planner can actually say they like walmart....

...and so it begins.

Well, ok, maybe most planners will agree that we don't like Wal-Mart, but some of us are willing to shop there.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
west coast, sorry in advance for jumping on you....I thought about being subtle like Cardinal, but I cannot. So all Planners have to think alike? Might be the dumbest thing said in these forums, ever.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
We have one on the east side of town, and another under construction on the west side, so no assessment yet about impacts. Our population is only about 30k, but the second store will be fairly close to the upper-income Lake Mary/Heathrow (FL)area.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,922
Points
37
[mod hat]

Rants and other off-topic comments about the evils/benefits of specific large-format retailers should be directed to one of the innumerable threads on the subject in the FAC.

Thanks

[/mod hat]
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
1,000,000 people... 1 Wal-Mart... no super center... there is one the next county over though....

we do have 2 Targets coming into the county this fall.. and I think we have 2 K-Marts...none of them supersized.

Fortunoff's just opened their largest anchor store though....slightly different than a Wal-Mart...
 

djysrv

Member
Messages
22
Points
2
This is a very useful reply (below). Wal_Mart actually had a smaller store in a more central location which they abandoned to build the 1st Supercenter on the East end of town. The advantages of the new site are it fronts on a major arterial and had lots of room for parking plus a link to a second major arterial out the South side of the site. This new site is much closer to other mall type shopping areas.

The new or 2nd Super Center would be located on a site formerly occupied by the county road & bridge dept. It is NOT a central shopping area. Quite a few of the businesses in the area cater to the easy off/ easy/on Interstate traffic and not to locals. However, this is long haul traffic which starts in Montana at the Canadian border and goes to Salt Lake, Las Vegas, and eventually San Diego. The country north of Idaho Falls on I-15 is public land (open range) and potato farms. There aren't many shoppers. To the south about 30 miles (Blackfoot, pop 10,000) Wal-Mart already has a combination dept/ grocery store that serves a largely agricultural region.

I'm still scratching my head about the business case for the 2nd store. I think the "market saturation" theory is interesting. Are there other reasons why the firm would plunk down a 2nd Super Center in the same 50,000 population town?

DY

QUOTE]Originally posted by Cardinal
It does seem counter-intuitive. Wal-Mart's greatest margins are on the hardlines, and the larger part of their superstores is still devoted to these items. With a very extended trade area, the specific store location has less meaning. It is not as if somebody driving fifty miles from the east won't drive another five miles to get to a store on the west side of town. Is there any reason to suspect that they may open the new store and close the old one? For instance, is it impossible to expand the old store? Is the new location a much stronger commercial area? [/QUOTE]
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Often a major retailer will build new stores to relieve pressure on an overperforming store. So if one store is a super star performer, a retailer often locates another nearby to take the pressure off.
 

MitchBaby

Cyburbian
Messages
198
Points
7
gkmo62u said:
So all Planners have to think alike?

I don't think I said that all planners had to think alike, but I think most planners recognize some of the inherent faults associated with a big box retail store like WalMart which:

1. are massive, often sprawling development that often do little to support the local community.

2. sell cheap, low quality goods, albeit at an inexpensive price - however, some studies have found that the transportation costs associated with getting to some walmarts more than makes up that difference; and

3. pay its employees at a level that's below the poverty line

I'm guilty of shopping there, out of necessity when I was a student looking for cheap, snap together furniture. But even then I noticed just how massive, sprawling, impersonal, and well, boring most walmarts are. The other thing I don't like about walmart, as opposed to other big box retails like home depot or costco, is that they don't support smaller businesses. Home depot sells hardware and wood to small contractors at a low price - similarly, Costco provides goods to small businesses at a low price. Walmart doesn't doany of that except sell cheap goods. Take it or leave it, that's how I see it...
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
The population in my town is about 60,000 and we have a Walmart on the east end of town and one on the west end (soon), no more than 8 miles apart. People were really pissed about the west end one because it's in a more affluent part of the city. All new development housing and expensive. Walmart has actually chosen really good locations from a business perspective. The East end store is on the border, the exact border of the town to the east that has 150,000 people and no walmart. The west end walmart is on the exact border of a neighboring area with about 75,000 people and no walmart and many more people coming. All of the coastal hills are disappearing to track housing in and around wallmart's new west end location. So they seem to have picked locations very logically. Of course our local planners will build anything anywhere.
 
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Kathie_WE

Cyburbian
Messages
34
Points
2
I had the same reaction upon learning that Home Depot is planning to move into an old K-Mart location. Since this site is half way between 2 other Home Depots on the same road, my first thought was won't Home Depot pull business away from its other locations. That said, the area is a designated growth area and the new store is replacing a defunct big box store, so that is positive. Besides presumably they have done the market study that says this is a good place for them to be.

As for planners being pro or anti big box retailers, West Coast Canadian makes some valid points. That said, big boxes are here to stay and its up to us planners and community developers to make them work for the community rather than against it. Besides let's not forget that small local businesses can distinguish themselves from the big boxes through service, selection, and experience. They can also benefit from big boxes if they market to their strengths rather than trying to compete head to head on price and inventory. Some things we can to do to make big boxes work for us are:

** Direct big box retailers into locations that are close to central business districts so that main street retailers can benefit from increased traffic.

** Work with small retailers on marketing strategies that play up their strengths -- unique products, superior personal services, and unique shopping experiences. (By the way latest survey data on shopping trends show people will go out of their way for these things as price and selection can be obtained over the internet).

** Provide incentives to big box retailers to build in or near existing strip malls and big box developments rather then spread them through out the community.

** Minimalize parking. Personally this is one of my primary issues with big boxes -- too much damn parking. Have you ever seen a big box parking lot full????

** Create walkable spaces between the shopping developments. Another of my irks, in order to go from one plaza to another you have to drive -- even if they are right next to one another -- because of traffic, lack of connecting walkway or driveway, or sidewalks that lead nowhere.

From my days in community - economic development, I learned that big retailers are here to stay and that's OK if they are planned as part of the community and not allowed to just happen haphazardly.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.

CHEERS!

Kathie
 

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
The twin cities of Urbana-Champaign.Population 100,000. Two Wal-Mart supercenters 5 miles apart, the third one in the works - approved. What a nighmare!!!
 

MennoJoshua

Cyburbian
Messages
56
Points
4
West Coast Canadian said:
I don't think I said that all planners had to think alike, but I think most planners recognize some of the inherent faults associated with a big box retail store like WalMart which:

1. are massive, often sprawling development that often do little to support the local community.

2. sell cheap, low quality goods, albeit at an inexpensive price - however, some studies have found that the transportation costs associated with getting to some walmarts more than makes up that difference; and

If there are two Super-Centres being built within five miles of each
other, the transportation costs can't be that much. If you live halfway
between them you can have your choice of being at either one with a
15 minute (or less) bike ride.

Transportation costs to a Wal-Mart can't be that different than travel to any other store; transportation costs might be even less if a single trip to a Supercenter means no extra trips to other stores--especially relevant if trip-chaining is unattractive (e.g. you're riding a bus with a lousy schedule).

[B}
3. pay its employees at a level that's below the poverty line
[/B]

Do Wal*Mart wages deviate significantly from other retailers (large or small)? In my area, they pay better than the local discount retailer (Marc's). I'm not trying to defend Wal*Mart's employment practices here; I just don't see much deviation between them and other chain retailers or local retailers (at least in my area).


I'm guilty of shopping there, out of necessity when I was a student looking for cheap, snap together furniture. But even then I noticed just how massive, sprawling, impersonal, and well, boring most walmarts are. The other thing I don't like about walmart, as opposed to other big box retails like home depot or costco, is that they don't support smaller businesses. Home depot sells hardware and wood to small contractors at a low price - similarly, Costco provides goods to small businesses at a low price. Walmart doesn't doany of that except sell cheap goods. Take it or leave it, that's how I see it...

Firstly, next time look for an Ikea. :) Secondly, Wal-Mart's target customer base is not other businesses like Home Depot's may be. They are trying to sell to consumers. Wal-Mart's Sam's Club stores would be more of what you have in mind if you want a retailer that sells cheap stuff to businesses.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Re: Two Wal-Mart Super Centers in One Town?

djysrv said:
I write from Idaho Falls, ID, a community with population 50,000 and with a largely rural trade area of about five times that number sperad over three states ID, WY, MT). Last winter Wal-Mart opened a Super Center, and I mean this is a BIG store, on the east edge of town. This week (9/22/03) the firm announced it would build another Super Center of equal or greater size, plus three stand alone restaurant pads, at the interchange of a state highway and the Interstate highway that bisect the western edge of the city. The distance between the two Super Center sites is less than five miles.

Wow, apparently this stores model has never heard of canablism. The 2 stores are going to be feeding off each other, as well as the other stores still standing.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
25,992
Points
63
sure why not.
We have a Sam's Club next to a Super Wal-Mart (at least the parking lots are not side by side)
which are across a highway from a Greatland Target one direction and in another direction is an empty K-Mart.
 

life_boy

Member
Messages
9
Points
0
My hometown of Tupelo has two Wal-Mart Supercenters. The funny thing about Wal-Mart is once it started making the Supercenters, it put the regular Wal-Marts out of business along with many of the independent retailers. The two regular Wal-Marts in town have long since been put out of business by the big SuperCenters. I think Tupelo had one of the first of the Supercenters, but now they're everywhere and it's almost nostalgic to come upon a plain ol' Wal-Mart.
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
I go with market saturation. The only reason to build another store is to gain a larger portion of the grocery market. We have 2 Wal-Mart SuperCenters, with 5 more planned.

An article in the local newspaper, from a retailing expert, said that we could expect to see 2 supermarkets close for every Wal-mart SuperCenter that opens.
 

brandonmason

Cyburbian
Messages
140
Points
6
Crazy talk? Maybe not. Roughly half of Wal-Mart's Supercenters (groceries plus general merchandise) are in the 11 states of the Old South, leaving plenty of room for expansion in California and the Northeast. And Bentonville is getting creative about overcoming the political and real estate hurdles there. In January it opened its first inner-city Supercenter in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, a three-story affair with special escalators for shopping carts. All told, Wal-Mart will open roughly a store a day this year.

As it expands outward, it's also filling in the gaps. "We've found that a smaller population than what we originally had thought can support a Supercenter," says Scott. "So you can put two Supercenters--Rogers (Ark.) and Fayetteville--roughly four miles apart. Same thing is true in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta." Within those four miles Wal-Mart is building new Neighborhood Markets, or "Small-Marts": smartly designed food/drug combos with conveniences like self-checkout, honor-system coffee and pastries, drive-through pharmacies, and half-hour film processing (this last based on a finding that 50% of women shoppers have an undeveloped roll of film in their purse). In Arkansas, Wal-Mart's even dabbling with stand-alone pharmacies. Throw in Sam's Club, with 46 million paid memberships, and walmart.com, with its mission of "easy access to more Wal-Mart," and you start to wonder: Is there any format Bentonville won't consider on its march to "saturation"? Well, yes, says Scott. "You're not going to see Wal-Mart casinos."
- From Fortune Magazine, in their article "One Nation, Under Wal-Mart"

Wal-Mart has found that they Supercenters can be profitable only a few miles apart. It's not stupid to place these stores so close together, because they are in fact increasing profits by doing so as well as increasing market share and saturation.

Wal-Mart is not driving its regular Wal-Marts out of business. Usually when they close down, it is because Wal-Mart "moves" them to a new location to reopen as a Supercenter. In fact, your new Supercenters probably have the same store numbers and same associates as the older Wal-Mart stores.

The reason that the person in NY has only one is because Wal-Mart has generally avoided urban areas. It has begun an aggressive attack on urban areas, and soon will construct stores in all of them.

West Coast Canadian said:
I don't think any planner can actually say they like walmart. God that place is annoying!!! Up here in Canada, they have grown, but are still fairly restricted in major cities. There was one planned for the City of Vancouver, but the city refused the development permit because of "traffic concerns". Thank-god for small mercies.

On the other side of the equation, however, is CostCo, which is building an Urban Costco right in the downtown core - as the base to a major condominium development; their primary clinentele will be walk in and not traffic. Suffice to say, I like costco alot more than walmart.

This makes absolutely no sense. Costco as a walk-in store? I don't know about their Canada branches, but in the US you can't walk out of a Costco with your purchases. It is a bulk warehouse store that doesn't even offer shopping bags!! Is it different in Canada?

The other thing I don't like about walmart, as opposed to other big box retails like home depot or costco, is that they don't support smaller businesses. Home depot sells hardware and wood to small contractors at a low price - similarly, Costco provides goods to small businesses at a low price. Walmart doesn't doany of that except sell cheap goods. Take it or leave it, that's how I see it...

What about their Sam's Club division -- rapidly growing and with nearly 600 US clubs. They are "in business for small business" and have a renewed commitment to helping small business succeed that beats out any other store.
 
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jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
I posted this in a different thread a while back . . .
>>>>>>>>
this isn't fishy at all. it's part of their strategy.

Barnes&Noble employs a similar tactic.

Let's say you live in Springfield. Wal-mart comes to the area one day and opens up a store about 10 miles down the road in Eastville.

A year later they open up another small 10 miles in the other direction just outside of Westville.

Walmart puts a hurtin' on both small towns and the pain starts to become apparent in larger downtown Springfield. The stores in Westville and Smallville are featuring big sales every week and the prices are generally lower than at other Walmarts

After a few years when the Westville and Eastville business communities are obliterated and Springfield is hanging by a thread Walmart announces grand plans for a new mega-store to be located, where else? you guessed it!

Springfield. The big store is located on the east end of town where land is cheap and parking is aplenty.

The Westville and Smallville stores are shuttered and residents of these towns have no choice but to drive to Springfield to do their shopping. Oddly enough, prices go up, management says that it's simply the price of a more convenient store.

The final nail in the coffin for local merchants is the opening of another supercenter on the west side of town. Much more convenient for those Westville folks.
 

chinkers

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
We have 5 walmarts (3 super/2 regular) all within 10 miles or less of each other. Plus, they have bought all the Winn-Dixie grocery stores in our town of 100K and are putting in WalMart Neighborhood Markets. There are also plans for at least one more super walmart to fit in somewhere, and possibly two. It's crazy!!! On this one stretch of road there will be 6 walmarts within 15-20 miles.
 

KSharpe

Cyburbian
Messages
744
Points
19
I feel kind of sorry for K-Mart. There's no niche for them! Does anyone have a thriving KMart nearby?
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
30
Well, I'll be a......

Wow, apparently this stores model has never heard of canablism. The 2 stores are going to be feeding off each other, as well as the other stores still standing.

Leave it to the Rumpster to use one of my favorite words in a Planning related discussion! He stole my thunder once again!!:

"canablism" The other white meat.....:-c

I'm always canablising things around the office place......computer parts, memo's, staff reports, letters, old interpretations, other people's ideas:-c :r: ;) :-D

now.....what was the topic of this thread.....oh yeah....Walmart.......they pretty much suck.......:-|
 

wahday

Cyburbian
Messages
3,960
Points
23
In the movie "Wal*Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices" a former executive notes that placing two stores in small towns is part of a deliberate strategy to put smaller competition out of business. It may cost a bundle to build the two stores and afterwards they may even close one of them. Still, by making themselves the only game in town, their net profits must be worth the efforts since there may end up being nowhere else to go. They did the same thing in Farmington, New Mexico. Now the primary businesses in storefronts along its quaint, turn-of-the-century downtown are payday loan companies. I counted 8 when I was there last and the whole Main Street is only 6 blocks long. True, its hard to link this decline directly to Wal-Mart, but its pretty darn depressing and they seem to be the only business in town not suffering.
 

cch

Cyburbian
Messages
1,436
Points
20
We've got 6 Super Walmarts in the Rockford, IL / Beloit, WI area, some within maybe 3 miles of each other, and 4 of which were built within the past 2 years.

As for K-mart, one of our K-marts morphed into a Sears Essentials (after Sears bought them out), and I love that store. They never seem very busy, but they've got the best of sears and k-mart clothes, housewares and accessories, plus cards/stationary, toiletries, cleaners and all that stuff. And you can pick up any big Sears appliances, tools or electronics from there. I buy a lot of clothes for my little girl there. I think every K-mart needs to become a Sears Essentials.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,241
Points
27
I feel kind of sorry for K-Mart. There's no niche for them! Does anyone have a thriving KMart nearby?

We still have quite a few thriving K-mart stores in Michigan. It goes back to the good old days of three years ago when K-mart used to be based out of Detroit. The few Sears Essentials I've been in have changed back to K-mart stores.

I'd agree with the poster who likes the stores. I always liked both K-mart and Sears stores. I do feel sorry for the independant Sears store owners in the small markets though, there is an independant Sears down the street from the K-mart and across from the 'new' Super Walmart and Home Depot in West Branch, MI. With K-mart now selling Craftsman and Kenmore it will only be a matter of time before this store can no longer make it.
 
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Wal-Mart is building its first SuperCenter in the Arbutus area of Baltimore County on Alt. US 1. It was only a matter of time, since that area along Washington Blvd. was prime real estate for big box development.
 

Trail Nazi

Cyburbian
Messages
2,779
Points
24
My hometown has two Super Walmarts, one regular Walmart, a regular Target, Kmart, and a Super Target within in 6-mile radius. Completely insane.
 

hilldweller

Cyburbian
Messages
3,865
Points
23
Port St. Lucie, FL (pop. 140,000) has two Sam's Clubs and four Wal-Mart Supercenters either built or under construction.
 
Messages
49
Points
2
This reminds me of Louisville, KY where I did my Masters work. there were Super Center Wal-Marts in almost every direction radiating out from the urban areas of the city. I lived in New Haven, CT for a bit and there was one Super Center Wal-Mart located approximately 15 miles away and two smaller version within relatively close proximity to each other.
 

pebkac

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
...and so it begins.

Well, ok, maybe most planners will agree that we don't like Wal-Mart, but some of us are willing to shop there.

I shop at local places first, Target second. If you're going to be a big box store, do it with a bit of style. Planners should practice what they preach.
 

jmello

Cyburbian
Messages
2,583
Points
22
I shop at local places first, Target second. If you're going to be a big box store, do it with a bit of style. Planners should practice what they preach.

From a planning perspective (i.e. land use, transportation, etc.), how is Target any different than Wal*mart?
 

CJC

Cyburbian
Messages
1,689
Points
19
From a planning perspective (i.e. land use, transportation, etc.), how is Target any different than Wal*mart?


Not much, sure. But - Target does have a history of locating in some urban locations, and making design changes to meld with that urban environment. For example, there a quite a few multi-story Targets with parking above or below, whereas I don't believe Walmart has ever tried that. They also have several locations built in walkable neighborhoods (Minneapolis and Miami are two that I have been to). That would be my only plus for Target over Walmart - they have shown a willingness to work with local planners and try something besides the normal large single-story box with gigantic parking lot in front.
 

TexanOkie

Cyburbian
Messages
2,903
Points
20
Kinda shady, but still legal--sometimes even helpful

Wal-Mart's schemes to put their competition out of business may seem shady (and it is), one has to admit it's a genius play on market forces. In fact, their whole business strategy can be described as such.

And while many times Wal-Mart is unwilling to work with planning staff on design schemes, I know of at least two examples where Wal-Mart has shifted the design of their store to meet community visions, especially aesthetically. Check out the store in northeast Round Rock, Texas (just outside of Austin) on US 79 and then check out the one in Colleyville, Texas (just outside of Dallas) on the John Carpenter Freeway (TX 114). Not only did these stores bend over backwards to please the community building standards, they also are amongst the top 5 donators to local charity causes in their areas.

Does this negate the impact of putting so many mom-and-pop stores out of business? Perhaps not. But it shows some initiative of good intent that I'm sure planners could turn around and use.
 

Vlaude

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
Sorry a bit late, but I believe Stillwater, OK and Norman, OK both have 2 Walmarts. Both are University Towns. Stillwater has a population of just 40K+ and Norman a bit larger probably around 120K with students? I think Wally World is doing this in a number of areas. In mid-small sized towns USA... Saturate the market and reel in the dough? I think thats the plan, then shut one down? That said both in Norman have stayed open for a number of years now, so.... Not sure I understand there plan! :r:
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Wal-Mart is a strong competitor that wants to grow, and will do it in part by capturing sales from other stores when they can. So do Penneys, Target, Kroger, Safeway, Kohl's, Ikea, Pottery Barn, Best Buy, Walgreen's, Office Max, Old Navy, and every chain store or independent business. If you think working with Wal-Mart on getting a decent looking store is difficult, try working with the local business that wants to get away with a metal shed and no landscaping. I have worked in many rural communities where the chains are the best looking businesses because their prototype is so much better than what the locals want to do.

There is a beleif that Wal-Mart puts independent stores out of business. Wal-Mart may have been a contributing factor, along with many other chains early on, but I don't think it is all that true anymore. First of all, what really killed the downtowns we imagine we remember is the mall and a change in retailing. The mall took out the clothing, jewelry, and similar specialty shops. Groceries, drugs, furniture, and similar shops evolved to new, larger formats which did not fit downtown. Category killers like Best Buy and OfficeMax killed off the appliance and office supply shops. All of the shoppers were leaving town to go to the regional mall and its concentration of stores. Wal-Mart (and others) saw the opportunity from leaking sales, and they built their stores to intercept these people.
 

CJC

Cyburbian
Messages
1,689
Points
19
There is a beleif that Wal-Mart puts independent stores out of business. Wal-Mart may have been a contributing factor, along with many other chains early on, but I don't think it is all that true anymore. First of all, what really killed the downtowns we imagine we remember is the mall and a change in retailing. The mall took out the clothing, jewelry, and similar specialty shops. Groceries, drugs, furniture, and similar shops evolved to new, larger formats which did not fit downtown. Category killers like Best Buy and OfficeMax killed off the appliance and office supply shops. All of the shoppers were leaving town to go to the regional mall and its concentration of stores. Wal-Mart (and others) saw the opportunity from leaking sales, and they built their stores to intercept these people.

Walmart is now simply a contributing factor to putting local places out of business in larger cities, but early on they were the major player in small towns. For the first 30 years or so of Walmart's life, the company focused almost exclusively on small towns and avoided the large metros. These small towns (many times with only 15,000 people or so) didn't have malls that took the businesses out of downtown. The small towns didn't have category killers - they might have them now, but Walmart led the charge into small town America - one of the primary reasons that they became so successful. Walmart saw the opportunity to move into places where people would appreciate that they cared enough about their town to come there (whereas the "big" chains skipped them over for the malls in the big cities) and Walmart would have very little competition.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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Walmart is now simply a contributing factor to putting local places out of business in larger cities, but early on they were the major player in small towns. For the first 30 years or so of Walmart's life, the company focused almost exclusively on small towns and avoided the large metros. These small towns (many times with only 15,000 people or so) didn't have malls that took the businesses out of downtown. The small towns didn't have category killers - they might have them now, but Walmart led the charge into small town America - one of the primary reasons that they became so successful. Walmart saw the opportunity to move into places where people would appreciate that they cared enough about their town to come there (whereas the "big" chains skipped them over for the malls in the big cities) and Walmart would have very little competition.

No, these small towns did not have malls or category killers. But the town next door, the county over, or a couple hours away did. In rural parts of the country people will drive 100 miles or more to reach these stores. The local men's clothing store or shoe store closed for exactly that reason. Those sales are still leaking from these cities. Wal-Mart may be there, but they have limited penetration into many channels.

I don't mean to downplay Wal-Mart's impact. Especially when it comes to items like groceries, Wal-Mart can have an impact on businesses already in a community. When we tend to blame Wal-Mart for the fact that the clothing store, office supply stores, jewelry stores, and similar types of businesses have left downtown, though, I will disagree.
 

CJC

Cyburbian
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I don't mean to downplay Wal-Mart's impact. Especially when it comes to items like groceries, Wal-Mart can have an impact on businesses already in a community. When we tend to blame Wal-Mart for the fact that the clothing store, office supply stores, jewelry stores, and similar types of businesses have left downtown, though, I will disagree.

I agree with you. And even with groceries, Walmart has defintely had a big impact, but in many cases it has been more to kill off larger chains (or force store closings or mergers or employee lockouts/strikes) - since those chains helped to chase away the local grocers years ago.
 
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