Evansville, IN. Wal-Mart Supercenter Making More Dark Stores in town.
East side, west side, and all around the town: Wal-Mart is saturating the community of Evansville, Indiana with store on top of store. According to an
April 26 article in the Courier and Press, citizens on the west side of Evansville are facing a 204,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter, which will close down the 14 year old Wal-Mart discount store, which is "only" 115,000 s.f. The new Wal-Mart supercenter will be neighbors with a Home Depot. Wal-Mart
already has a supercenter on the East Side of Evansville, but needs this new store to "reflect the growth" of its customer base. Wal-Mart told the
newspaper that the building they are closing will be "very marketable", but when asked if they would put a Sam's Club in that space, Wal-Mart
hedged. "I've not heard that," the Wal-Mart spokesman said. "But I never say never." The fact is, Indiana now has 14 "dark stores" left by Wal-Mart,
for a total of 1,029,245 s.f. of dead space. Three of those stores have been on the market since 1999. The existing discount center has about 200 employees, who will be given the chance to transfer to the west side store, and Wal-Mart says they will add another 250 to 300 jobs. But this is a gross figure that does not include the net of other jobs lost in Evansville as area grocery stores close. The net job impacts of a supercenter are often negligible, since 60% to 80% of Wal-Mart sales come from existing cash registers in town. But Wal-Mart says opening up their supercenter with a grocery store will help the other two grocery stores already in close proximity. The Buehler's Buy-Low and a Schnucks Food and Drug will see some benefits Wal-Mart claimed. "People in the community will think there will be some overlapping, and there probably will be," Wal-Mart admitted to the newspaper. "But they (Schnucks and Buehler's) do enough things differently than we do to maintain their customer bases. Some shoppers also like a mix of merchandise and will shop two of them or all three."
What you can do: The reality is that Wal-Mart now controls 20% of the grocery market in America, and is the number one grocer in the nation. They have largely gotten
there by taking grocery sales away from companies like Kroger and Albertson's and the other large players. The idea that food customers "will shop
two of them or all three," is a screen for what is really happening across the country. How long will the Buy-Low or Schnucks last? That's the real
question city officials should be asking in Evansville. What will the city do to fill the growing list of empty retail stores in town?