Wal-Mart tries mini-stores in three markets

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Wal-Mart is experimenting with mini-stores in three markets that combine the convenience of a corner drug store with the price advantage of the mega-retailer’s traditional behemoth locations.

The first Wal-Mart Express store opened recently in the city of Chicago. That fact that it made it to the Windy City at all is a testimony to the ingenuity of this smaller shop concept.

For years, the unions in Chicago fought hard to keep Wal-Mart out of the city. The chain was well represented in “Chicagoland” throughout the suburbs, but not so much in the core of the city. But Wal-Mart Express stores are about the size of a CVS, Rite-Aid or Walgreens, so there’s no zoning approval necessary and that minimizes any fights about opening stores.

Other test markets for Wal-Mart Express include North Carolina and Arkansas.

These Wal-Mart Express stores are the antithesis of the 200,000 square foot monsters that you know. With those giants, you have to walk a mile to get anything in the store, and in the sea of checkout lanes, there never seem to be many registers that are open!

Wal-Mart Express stores will offer the best of both worlds. You’ll have the convenience of a drugstore with the chain’s traditional cheap prices. We’ll see how this all plays out. Wal-Mart certainly has the dough to make this idea big if it works.

The Wal-Mart haters moan and groan when I say anything positive about the mega-retailer. But in my book, Wal-Mart has been one of the greatest antipoverty programs of the modern era. The store provides an effective way to stretch your dollar further if that’s important to you.

So the haters can continue hating, but for those who want to stretch a buck, I love the competition this idea brings with it. 



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