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November 21, 2019, 06:58:35 am
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Author Topic: It Takes a Walmart to Make a Village  (Read 3968 times)
PonderInc
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« on: July 15, 2009, 09:53:58 am »

I was in Edmond recently, and noticed that their Walmart Superstore was trying to look like a traditional Main Street (ironically paying homage to the millions of local merchants they've put out of business across the country...)

I give them points for breaking up the enormous, monolithic building with a varied facade....


But that's all it is.  A deception that alludes to the type of streetscape that has been destroyed.  The enormous scale of the building, limited access, and gigantic parking lot makes it impractical for pedestrians or transit users.  And, of course, it's a Walmart.  (Motto: "Bringing cheap homogeneity to the heartland.")  Not a cluster of unique, independent, family-owned, retail shops.

Indeed, the facade doesn't withstand closer inspection.  The bricked-over fake "windows" are a hoot, though.



I love the word "pastiche" to describe a cheap immitation of the real thing.  The word itself sounds beautiful, but conveys utter disdain.  (The French language is lovely that way.)
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swake
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2009, 10:06:57 am »

You don’t go out south much do you? That’s almost identical to the newish 111th and Memorial Wal-Mart. The new Wal-Mart in Glenpool at 121st and US 75 uses actual brick and stone on the front façade. That store may have even had an actual architect involved. None of it changes the low quality crap they sell inside however.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 10:08:47 am by swake » Logged
cannon_fodder
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2009, 10:36:02 am »

Wal-mart has it's place.  Blame them if you want to, but clearly it is consumers that make the choice to shop there and not at the mom and pop stores.  Mostly because Wal-Mart offers a wider variety for lower prices, the convenience of having everything in one place, and is open 24 hours a day.  I often prefer the small store, but I can't blame people for choosing Wal-mart and won't blame a company for serving that demand.

That said, the above design is worlds ahead of the gray and blue boxes that were the standard design.  In many towns in Colorado all box stores and retail outlets have to follow a design code (gasp!).  Brick accents, stone patios leading in, earth tone color schemes.  At first glance it looks a lot better than bright red McDonalds, yellow Subways, and boxed in blue Wal-marts.  In reality, it's the same thing . . . but facially it's better.

And that doesn't solve the pedestrian or giant blank parking lot problems.
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Red Arrow
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2009, 11:41:56 am »


But that's all it is.  A deception that alludes to the type of streetscape that has been destroyed.  The enormous scale of the building, limited access, and gigantic parking lot makes it impractical for pedestrians or transit users.  And, of course, it's a Walmart. 


Please explain how putting the WalMart at 111th and Memorial 10 feet from Memorial drive would make it better.  Sidewalks are going in along Memorial between the Creek Turnpike and 111th.  The side walks are only a few feet from the street when there is at least a 30 ft space to the parking lots you love (not) so much. I just don't see "mom" walking her toddlers along Memorial in the hot summer sun 3 feet from an arterial road that was posted at 50 mph. I expect that will be lowered with the encroaching development and density.  There is no transit there unless you call a taxi transit.  The taxi will take you to the WM door, I've seen it.  Most people I see coming out of the store have a shopping cart full of stuff.  This in itself is not pedestrian or transit friendly.  How are you going to get that stuff home unless you steal the shopping cart?

The enormous scale of the building doesn't seem so different from the outside than a street of buildings 2 or 3 stories tall with shared walls between them.  Inside is obviously different and I will have to concede that point.  The parking lot to me is not a lot different than parking a few blocks away and walking.  Walking across a hot asphalt parking lot isn't much different than walking across a few streets with traffic buzzing by and then along a hot concrete sidewalk.  Pouring down rain gets you just as wet in either case. (Freezing cold and windy in the winter for both scenarios too.) You may actually be safer in a parking lot where drivers know people will be walking aimlessly about.  My mom likes to tell me about how when I was just a little kid, aboutr 2 yrs old. that I sat down in the middle of the a busy street as we crossed.  This was the 69th Street and Market pedestrian friendly area of Upper Darby, PA just west of Philadelphia, PA. She had her hands full with a couple bags of stuff and couldn't just grab my hand and drag me up.  Fortunately the traffic in the early 1950s wasn't as agressive as today.    The WalMarts I have seen have not destroyed a streetscape because there was no streetscape there to destroy.  I regret that they destroyed fields and woods.  In my opinion, putting up something resembling a downtown shopping street wouldn't be any better.  All that would be is a strip mall closer to the street with no parking and no way to get there.   I don't like the aesthetics of a big parking lot but whether it's in front or in back or all around doesn't really matter too much.   Way oversize parking lots are another issue that I tend to (but not totally) agree with you about.
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Red Arrow
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 11:58:47 am »

This link should take you to 69th St looking toward the Transit terminal. I don't remember the pedestrian bridge. Maybe I helped cause it.  Turn around on 69th street and you will see all the little shops up to the sidewalk.  Nice place to visit but I don't want to live there anymore.  The family moved to mowing grass etc when I was about 2-1/2.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=69th%20street%20and%20market%20st%20upper%20darby&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

Well, the link didn't work as expected but the address is OK.
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USRufnex
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 12:28:24 pm »

The new Walmart Neighborhood Markets are more pedestrian friendly than most standard supermarkets.... the Walmart pictured looks almost identical to the Meijer's I used to occasionally shop at a few years back, when I lived in Elgin, IL..... this is not Walmart's answer to "walkable urbanity".... if anything, it's an effort to compete better in certain suburban areas with other "fancier" big boxes like Meijer and Target.

Instead of singling out a northwest Arkansas company that has never traditionally catered to urban sensibilities or upscale snobbery, how 'bout we point out ALL the big boxes, high-end, medium-end, etc?  After all, other than the notable exception downtown, almost every single Home Depot I've ever seen has been next door or down the street from a WalMart.......

NON COMPREHENSIVE BIG BOX LIST:
Home Depot
Reasor's
Best Buy
Lowe's
Albertson's
Target
Kmart/Sears
IKEA
Office Depot
Petsmart
Staples
Toys'r'us
Bass Pro Shops
Kohl's
Gordman's
Meijer

etc, etc, etc....

I shop regularly at the Walmart on Admiral and Memorial for my "cheap homogeneity"..... it's a big improvement over the "cheap homogeneity" previously available on the dusty shelves of the TG&Y my grandmother used to shop at decades ago, over at Sheridan Village (Sheridan & Admiral), which later became a bingo hall... and was recently bulldozed.

If there's a market for it, I assume most "big boxes" will go in the direction of urban design without doing a whole lot to change their "one-stop shopping" business model.  It's the one-stop, fill-your-minivan-with-2-weeks-worth-of-name-brand-stuff business model that is very profitable to these companies, so maybe those in favor of a smaller, more urban "pedestrian shopping model" should look to businesses that have traditionally catered to that demographic....

If you're wanting a suitable non-big box grocery store in urban downtown and/or on north Peoria in these economic times, try this one out for size:

Aldi replaces planned Staples in Edgewater
http://www.chicagorealestatedaily.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=33209

And if an Aldi's downtown becomes successful and downtown Tulsa (East End?) starts to gentrify, Albrecht Discounts might decide to open another grocery store from a different non-big box chain they own:

Trader Joe's.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 01:00:34 pm by USRufnex » Logged
USRufnex
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009, 01:08:50 pm »

And this article was from a year and a half ago...... truer than ever today.

Industry Trends: Big-Box Development
By Kate Burrows   
Thursday, 10 January 2008
http://www.construction-today.com/content/view/699/81/

However, in economic downturns, consumer demand for value increases, and these low-price supercenters are sought-after projects and welcome additions to communities.

The economic climate today, according to Frankl, is at a turning point. “There are quite a few developers out there who are still fantasizing that they’re going to attract the high-rent tenants,” he says. “Although there is some indication that they will, I believe that if the market softens any more, there will be many more big-box centers appearing throughout the country.”
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 01:38:00 pm by USRufnex » Logged
joiei
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2009, 03:54:17 pm »

The Edmond store looks like a repeat of the store that New Orleans required them to design to fit into the neighborhood when they built on Tchopitoulas in uptown.   The city would not let them build the blue box. 
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 12:18:48 pm »

The new Walmart in Broken Arrow at the Creek Turnpike and 71st has their new design.  The store opens next month.
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nathanm
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 05:00:42 pm »

Mostly because Wal-Mart offers a wider variety for lower prices,
I was in a Wal-Mart the other night (Greenwood, Arkansas doesn't have a lot of shopping options at midnight), and found the prices to be more expensive than other places and the selection among any particular category of item rather poor. Even taking into account Arkansas' soda tax, the pricing on Coca-Cola was beyond ridiculous, the bacon and eggs were also overpriced compared to what I pay at Reasor's. The only thing I bought that fulfilled the criteria of "lower prices" was a loaf of white bread.

And that particular store, which is only a few years old, has to have one of the worst layouts I've ever seen in a Wal-Mart. There are such major choke points that there is congestion even at midnight. During the day, it was absolutely awful to navigate the throngs.
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"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration" --Abraham Lincoln
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2009, 07:59:50 am »

I was thinking more of the store side than the market Nathan.  The markets are a different beast entirely it seems.  And I agree with you that I prefer shopping elsewhere, just saying that very often Wal-Mart will have more variety and beat the pants off of a mom-and-pop shop for price.
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USRufnex
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2009, 07:51:21 pm »

Compare....

Empty last year-- NW Corner of........ N Broadway St & W Granville Ave Chicago, IL 60660
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

Condos + Aldi this year........ NW corner of Broadway & Granville, Rogers Park, Chicago

« Last Edit: August 16, 2009, 07:57:36 pm by USRufnex » Logged
PonderInc
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2009, 01:41:14 pm »

Re: Walmart prices.  I certainly don't feel like they are all that affordable.  And, despite the enormity of their stores, they don't have much in the way of choices/selections. 

I've had to spend some time in Stillwater lately, and I noticed right away that my local Tulsa Reasor's is more affordable than Walmart for groceries... and has better selections/choices.

In Stillwater, the only real options for groceries are Food Pyramid or Walmart.  They're both consistantly more expensive than Reasor's in Tulsa. 
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