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1999-02-25
Bentonville, AR. The Portable Wal-Mart

Want to buy an empty Wal-Mart? Want to buy 333 empty Wal-Marts? There's all that -- and more -- on the marketplace today, according to the latest list of "available buildings" published by Wal-Mart Realty. The world's largest retailer is also the world's largest real estate company, with more empty stores to unload than most companies have occupied stores. To see just how portable Wal-Mart is, check out their vacant properties list. Like a reptile crawling out of its skin, Wal-Mart leaves its dead stores behind, much to the consternation of local officials. Wal-Mart has shed hundreds of stores just to move into bigger facilities with wider aisles. Most of these relocations have been in towns where Wal-Mart shuts down the discount store to open up a larger superstore across the street, down the block, or just over the town line. "As Wal-Mart rolls out new supercenter prototypes," the company explains, "it must also find uses for existing relocated stores after they are closed." Although the company claims that in 1998 it sold or leased 10 million square feet of what it euphemistically calls "once-occupied" stores, Sprawl-Busters has obtained the February, 1999 list of properties for sale or lease, and the amount of buildings on the market is staggering: 333 stores sitting empty -- more than 20 million square feet of wasted, dark space -- not counting the acres of asphalt parking lots. . These buildings are spread across 31 states. Only 17% of these stores are owned by Wal-Mart, 83% are leased. This means that 10.5% of Wal-Mart's total stores are empty as of this month. 15 states have empty stores in the double digits. Here are the leading states: Texas, 40 emtpy stores; Tennessee, 30; Florida, 30; Georgia, 26; Alabama, 22; Arkansas, 17; Kentucky, 16; Louisiana, 16; Mississippi, 15; So.Carolina, 13; Missouri, 13; Oklahoma, 12; Illinois, 11; New Mexico, 10; No.Carolina, 10. The average size of these empty stores is 62,057 s.f. -- larger than most other retail stores in your community. But 52 of the dead stores are larger than 100,000 s.f., with some as large as 134,000 s.f. In February, 54 of the stores listed are "new" to the list. "Quite frankly," admitted Wal-Mart's former Executive Vice President for Real Estate Construction, Tom Seay, "I think the fact that we relocate stores -- and we relocate a lot of them -- is a well-known fact in the development community..." But the public has no idea just how moveable Wal-Mart's feast can be. So don't expect a long term relationship with Wal-Mart, because they arrive in your community with their bags already packed, and their sights set on the next "relocation."

What you can do: To receive your very own copy of Wal-Mart Realty's February top 333 list of "available buildings" send $5.00 to cover postage and copying to Sprawl-Busters, 21 Grinnell St, Greenfield, MA 01301. Or, call Wal-Mart Realty's National Hotlilne at 501-273-4535. Some of these properties have been around for awhile, so make them an offer. Some of these empty buildings might make wonderful jet propulsion laboratories, or something equally understated and tasteful. Act now, before all 333 properties disappear!










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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