The name Wal-Mart can be polarizing. For some, it’s their Graceland. For others, it’s a low-paying, anti-union juggernaut that robs mom-and-pop stores of their customers. Regardless of your feelings towards the company, they are persistent, and there’s a new strategy afoot.
Instead of building the gargantuan stores they are famous for, the company will be launching a sleeker, sexier version: Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets, meant to bring affordable groceries to underserved markets. There are already 200 such stores across the country, and Wal-Mart plans to open 80 more this year, including its first California location, which opens today in Huntington Beach. Because of the expansion, the company is also on track to create nearly 1000 jobs in Orange County alone. Critics argue that Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Markets have the potential to kill smaller local businesses, but some locals welcome Wal-Mart’s price point.
Has Wal-Mart found a way to break through their negative publicity? Would you want a Neighborhood Market in your neck of the woods?
Stephen Restivo, Senior Director of Community Affairs for Wal-Mart
Burt Flickinger, Managing Director of Strategic Resource Group; teaches “The Future of Retail” at Cornell University; contributed to the LA Times’ Pulitzer-winning series, “The Wal-Mart Effect”