Edgewood, TX. Wal-Mart Takes Aim at Dollar Generals in Small Texas Towns
There are many tiny towns in Texas that can be described as a wide spot in the road. The community of Edgewood, Texas, with a population just over 1,300 people, is one of those wide spots in the road. The town's motto is, "A great place to live." According to its website, "Presently, Edgewood is primarily home to commuters and retirees." And now, Wal-Mart.
The San Angelo Standard Times reports this week that Wal-Mart has opened its smallest store prototype, a 12,000 s.f. Neighborhood Market. "We're the biggest thing to happen in Edgewood since the second stoplight came to town in 2002," a Wal-Mart manager was quoted as saying. All those commuters and retirees now can choose between the Dollar General and Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market located just minutes apart.
According to the Standard Times, Wal-Mart is opening another 36 of these mini-stores in tiny Texas towns over the next month. Wal-Mart turned away from its colossal-sized superstores when the recession hit, and the Superstores have turned into Dinostores. It's a form of global retail warming, the Ice Age for superstores.
Shoppers are turning away from the huge megastores because they are inconvenient to shop, and time-consuming to navigate. These smaller formats are also designed to compete with the small Dollar Stores that are stealing sales from Wal-Mart. Not surprisingly, there is already a Dollar General located on East Pine Street in Edgewood, just minutes from the Wal-Mart store, which is located on West Pine St.
There is a Wal-Mart superstore 9 times larger just 10 miles away in Canton, Texas. The Canton superstore will be used to feed products to the smaller store in Edgewood. "We have every category represented," the Edgewood manager assured the Standard Times, "and if something doesn't sell and people want other products and we have it in the warehouse, we'll change it,"
Wal-Mart tells reporters that Neighborhood Markets "feel just like a Wal-Mart, only scaled down." The retailer doesn't want people in tiny towns to think they are getting an inferior Wal-Mart. The Neighborhood Markets have narrower aisles, but wider sales profits. According to Wal-Mart, same store sales comparisons at Neighborhood Markets (similar stores that have been open at least a year) have been much stronger than overall sales growth at other Wal-Mart formats. They are also cheaper to build, maintain and staff than the superstores.
The Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at 12,000 square feet is roughly the same size as a Walgreens, but its 64% larger than the Dollar General store in Edgewood. Dollar General has more stores in Texas than in any other state. There are almost three Dollar Generals for every one Wal-Mart in Texas. But Wal-Mart has more superstores in Texas than anywhere else in the country. Developers of Wal-Marts and Dollar Generals love Texas, because there are very few land use controls or local opposition.
What's new is that Wal-Mart is looking to fill the "small holes" in its markets by building the small store formats that attract people to Dollar General. According to the Standard Times, Dollar General has been in Edgewood for a decade. As the Standard News reporter commented: "Visiting a town like Edgewood, it's hard to understand how Wal-Mart could make a lot of money there, especially since it has several Wal-Marts that are 10 to 20 miles away." But Wal-Mart is in Edgewood to hurt the competition, and if its can hurt it in 36 other locations--it could help Wal-Mart big-time.
A shopper in Edgewood told the Standard Times, "I would hate if it puts any mom-and-pops out of business, but it's not like we have many here."
What you can do: Readers are urged to call Charles B. Prater, the Mayor of Edgewood, at (903) 896-4448 with the following message:
"Dear Mayor Prater,
Perhaps the little shoot out on Pine Street between Wal-Mart and Dollar General might stimulate Edgewood to do some thinking about land use controls in your little community.
If you value the open spaces around you, you might want to limit your retail district, and avoid having the national chain stores leaving dead stores in your community. If people in Edgewood can't take the short drive over to Canton to visit the big Wal-Mart, you're going to see commercial strip sprawl expanding in every direction.
You know that Wal-Mart did not come to Edgewood because they thought it was a nice place to live. They came because Dollar General got their first.