Housing Complex

Walmart Would be Happy With Nothing Next To It

Dix Street, an emptied-out commercial strip steps from the East Capitol Street Walmart. (Lydia DePillis)

Executives from Walmart and Safeway didn't say much of interest through their turn at Bisnow's retail summit this morning at the St. Regis hotel. But then, the moderator asked an interesting question: Given your drothers, what kind of store would you most like to have next door to yours?

"The one that we like the best, based on the result, is Target," answered Tim Baker, vice president of Safeway.

That makes sense. Target, until recently, hasn't been a grocer. People will come to Target for their dry goods, and then go next door to Safeway, and be done. That's why it sucked for Safeway that Target didn't decide to come to Skyland, and Walmart came instead.

How about Walmart, then?

"We like to have Sam's Club next to us," said Fred Lutz, Walmart's senior director for real estate, with a touch of smugness. Sam's Club being the other big box chain that Walmart owns.

Considering that the massive company is making its first moves into cities, it might have been nice to hear Lutz say this, for example: "I know this sounds strange, but we'd really like to see healthy clusters of local, unique retailers develop around our stores as we enter these delicate urban neighborhoods. Even though we sell everything, we think they can do well with the right selection of inventory and strong relationships with the surrounding community."

Pie in the sky, I know. But the fact that he couldn't even talk the talk doesn't bode well for Dix Street.

  • Sylvia C. Brown

    My point exactly! The vision for the NE Ward 7 Wal-mart site is zilch! The DCHA & A&R Development team is not being challenged by our elected leaders, let alone Planning and DMPED, to do better and think more.

  • So what?

    He was asked a question, and gave an honest answer. He doesn't really have his drothers, so it really isn't an issue, because there won't be a Sams Club next door. But let the faux outrage commence.

  • Keith

    Im on board with So What?

    I used to live blocks away from the ward 7 site and there are NO services to speak of in the area. Deanwood will take what it can get.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AdamLDC Adam L

    It's executives like that who make their PR people go crazy.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    For many years I've made the point that any claims that Walmart supports other stores and commercial districts is a lie, because their business model is focused on capturing as much as 100% of the consumer's spending on goods and services.

    That doesn't leave any room for other businesses.

    That being said, they can't capture 100% so there are some dregs for others.

    But it does support the statement that their business model shouldn't be supported through subsidies, because (except for sales tax revenues) there aren't other contributions that their presence makes--different in what we might call extant retail deserts.

    The Walmart business model is different from other stores. Part of the justification in the old days for department stores getting subsidies is that they were anchors for commercial districts, and people attracted to the store and the commercial district by the advertising and promotions of the department store also shopped the other businesses, and the subsidy was a kind of recognition of the spillover benefit of the store.

    The same goes for supermarkets still. In neighborhood shopping centers they are anchors. Typically, they pay lower rents, and the shopping center owner makes it up by charging higher rents to the other tenants, who don't usually advertise, while the supermarket does, usually on a weekly basis.

  • NE John

    Stay the fark out walmart.

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