Home Opinion Editorials SMALLER BOX STORES LOOK PROMISING
SMALLER BOX STORES LOOK PROMISING
While we in La Grande are discussing the pros and cons of Wal-Mart's proposed supercenter box store, it seems that an entirely different discussion is taking place in Bentonville, Ark. and the hometowns of all those other giant retailers.
THE DISCUSSION seems obvious to us, but for some reason hasn't been obvious to the public relations departments of companies like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples, Circuit City, Target, Kohl's and Toys R Us. As the giant chains try to build more and more mega stores, the corporate leadership is turning back the clock.
According to an article in the June 3 Newsweek, "Honey, I Shrunk the Store," the giant retail corporations are reducing the size of their stores.
Instead of the typical supercenter at 150,000 square feet and upwards, they are creating smaller stores in the neighborhood of 40,000 square feet. Home Depot has been the leader in the transition. The downsizing is being driven by several factors including real-estate constraints, demographics and shoppers getting tired of trudging through mega stores, to name a few.
Even the king of box stores, Wal-Mart, is downsizing as it has quietly opened 31 smaller Neighborhood Market stores in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama and is adding another 20 by the end of the year. Of course, the size of the smaller version, at 50,000 square feet, is still big to a community like La Grande.
BEST BUY, the giant electronics retailer, wants to have locations in every market that has enough people to support them. The company currently is working on a 20,000-square-foot store for communities like ours. The company figures that even though that size store won't be able to carry everything, they will encourage shoppers to shop online.
Bi-Mart has been doing that kind of thing already, offering customers free delivery of products to their local store.
So we have to wonder: why is Wal-Mart pushing to build giant supercenters in smaller communities like La Grande? We don't have enough population to warrant that size of a store, but keeping the current size or renovating that store into one of their Neighborhood Market stores could make more sense. That way Wal-Mart could continue to profit from communities the size of La Grande and focus building their mega supercenters in larger communities like Boise, the Tri-Cities and Portland.
This kind of thinking could be a win-win situation for everyone.