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Walmart still has little dreams for New York

By Holly Dutton

FAITH HOPE CONSOLO

The world’s biggest retailer hasn’t given up on New York City as a store destination.

Speaking at a Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) mid-year meeting in the city on Monday, George Kinnard, vice president of Realty at Walmart, listed a series of successful company concepts, including mini college campus Walmart’s and so-called “express” stores in suburban shopping centers that could be adapted to suit the city .

“They want to be here,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chair of the Retail Group at Douglas Elliman, who also took part in the CRE event. “They know they can offer good products at the right price points.”

The company has been optimistic that a smaller version of its mega-stores could fare better in a city like New York where there has been huge opposition to a traditional Walmart.

“Small stores are going to be a very good growth opportunity for us because they allow us to get access in places we are not in today,” said William S. Simon, CEO of Wal-Mart’s domestic business, in a New York Times article from 2011.

The chain’s first “Walmart on Campus” concept store opened in January 2011 on the University of Arkansas-Lafayette campus, a few miles from Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters in Benton, AK.

Two more express stores are slated to open later this year at Arizona State University and Georgia Institute of Technology.
The stores will not sell textbooks, but instead provide products tailored to college students, including general merchandise, convenience items and pharmacy services, including Walmart’s $4 generic prescription drug program.

Walmart has also begun opening “express” stores in suburban shopping centers and currently has 17 Walmart Express stores in the U.S. that range between 10,000 and 15,000 s/f and feature pharmacy services, groceries, fresh produce, general merchandise, and health and beauty aids.

In 2005, plans to include a Walmart in a Vornado-developed shopping complex in Queens were scrapped in the face of community and union opposition.

In 2012, Walmart was in talks to install a location at Related Companies’ 600,000 s/f Gateway II development in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn until opposition from labor unions and public officials ended the deal. Grocery store chain Shop-Rite ending up taking the space.

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