Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wal-Mart, Snobbery, and Food Choices?

I recently wrote about fast food in my business blog, and fast food plays a part in a theory about Wal-Mart.

But first, let's provide an update. And I'll try to keep calm.

The Ontario Mountain Village Association, as part of their repeated and continued attempts to preserve a graffiti-ridden empty lot in northwest Ontario - I guess they want to lower their property values by having decaying vacant space next to their homes - have filed an appeal of the City of Ontario's decision to finally allow the Wal-Mart to be constructed in northwest Ontario.

However, as I write this, the Ontario Mountain Village Association has apparently not discovered the blog post that covers their lawsuit, because of the four comments on the post, exactly zero of them support the OMVA's position. Matt has (so far) written the longest comment, and while he doesn't support the move to keep the Wal-Mart out of Ontario, he's hoping that Wal-Mart will do more than put a big box at Mountain & 5th.

Target sucks and is no better than Walmart. These stores should both stop wasting our open space on these one story box stores with oceans of parking. They should consider a two level approach with a parking structure, leaving room for a plaza, a parkway, and a restaurant.

This would make these shopping centers interesting for pedestrian shoppers instead of dangerous and uninviting. The big box approach to retail will fizzle out and die like a 1960's shopping mall, even in the burbs.

Build a Super Walmart but build it right. Come on Ontario, I know you can force them to design a more urban walmart plaza or court, a Super Walmart that would make the Chaffey brothers proud...LOL.

I've seen the more urban walmarts. They are much better than a crappy old one story Walmart. They don't waste land! (under-utilization).

But then Matt shared a theory which may be of interest.

The Rancho Cucamonga Walmart is no different from many walmarts I've seen except instead of having Mc Donalds fast food in the parking lot there is a Claim Jumper Restaurant. This is a better restaurant choice which draws larger more diverse crowds to the center while also attracting more affluent shoppers.

Rancho Walmart w/ Claim Jumper
More Affluent ($$ / $$$$$)

instead of

Upland Walmart w/ Mc Donalds
Less Affluent ($ / $$$$$).

Personally, I think that Matt is oversimplifying the causes - I think that the problems in the Upland Wal-Mart are due to bad management rather than food choices, and most people don't base their shopping destination choices on the available food. But it is an interesting idea, and if you believe Matt's model, then what will happen to the Ontario Wal-Mart when Cory Briggs' last appeal is denied and a non-union - oh, did I say "non-union"? I'm sure that doesn't enter into Briggs' plans - when Cory Briggs' last appeal is denied and a store replaces the three empty stores on the vacant lot?

On the one hand, you have a Carl's Jr next to the store site. Score one for Matt's Upland model.

On the other hand, you have a Starbucks, a My Delight Cupcakery, a wings place, a sushi grill, and some other non-fast food restaurants just down the street.

We'll follow this continuing saga.

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