February 4, 2005

Vacant Wal-Mart Store Split 60-40

There are only so many big-box retailers, so without changing zoning rules, it is sometimes difficult to find a replacement occupant of a vacant store. Enter Tractor Supply Store and Dollar General Market:

According to Tom Lawrence, a corporate spokesperson TSC, the doors of the store will be opening around the end of April. "The official opening will be held in early May," Lawrence stated. The store will employ 12 to 17 employees. TSC will occupy approximately 25,000 sq. ft of the building or about 40 percent....

"The company focuses on lifestyle and the need of ranchers and farmers as well as tradesmen," the spokesperson explained. He noted that they would have fenced areas out front of the store where fencing, sprayers and other such items will be located...

"This is exciting for our county," County Mayor Monty Adams stated. "I think this will be a wonderful addition to our county." The county mayor noted that he looked forward to working with TSC....

While TSC has leased 40 percent of the building the other 60 percent has been leased by Dollar General Market.

Posted by Kevin at 11:08 AM

January 25, 2005

WM Sells Old Store Before Building Nearby Supercenter

It's pretty clear that Wal-Mart prefers to sell its vacant big boxes to stores that do not directly compete with its general merchandise or food sales. In fact, when it finds a suitable buyer, it sells right away:

Construction has yet to begin on Demopolis's new Wal-Mart Supercenter on Highway 80, but that hasn't stopped the company from already selling the current building housing the local retail giant...

Exactly who or what has purchased the location remains a mystery as of press time, however. Calls to the Wal-Mart realty office in Atlanta asking for confirmation had yet to be returned, and the Rockwood Exchange site does not divulge the identity of the buyer.

Posted by Kevin at 10:46 AM

January 18, 2005

Former WM Store Empty - Not WM's Fault!

Many people accuse WM of keeping former stores empty so that the competition won't enter. While the logic is tenuous at best, here's an example of how even third-parties have a hard time redeveloping after a WM expands down the road:

Although no lease agreements have been signed, there continues to be interest in the former Wal-Mart building in the Huck Finn Shopping Center....

The building which once housed the Wal-Mart store has sat empty since Wal-Mart's new supercenter in the River Bend Shopping Center, located just west of the Huck Finn Shopping Center, opened in April 2002.

In December, when it was announced that the Huck Finn Shopping Center, including the former Wal-Mart building, had been purchased by Equity Investment Group of Fort Wayne, Ind., Dennis Callison, director of acquisitions for EIG, indicated that consideration would be given to dividing up the building's 95,000 square feet of space to accommodate two or three retailers.

Posted by Kevin at 10:56 AM

January 11, 2005

Filling Empty Shells

Via The Filter and The Box Tank, Julie Christensen's Big Box Reuse:How Communities are Reusing the Big Box. I particularly like the WM that became an indoor raceway.

Posted by Kevin at 2:02 PM

December 27, 2004

AJC on Empty Stores

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an interesting take (rr) on WM dumping its old locations to build Supercenters:

With all the hand-wringing that can occur when Wal-Mart decides to move into a community, however, the biggest impact in many cases is not when it arrives. It's when it leaves.

Wal-Mart stores are huge � upwards of 100,000 square feet for a regular store, twice that for a Supercenter � and when the company abandons one of those big boxes for a hotter market, it can hurt a community. That is increasingly happening as Wal-Mart leaves its old stores to build giant Supercenters, often just a few miles up the road.

The company points out that it is re-leasing or selling its vacant stores faster than ever � in many cases before it even vacates the premises. In those instances, the new tenant moves in within a year of Wal-Mart's departure. But many towns have seen vacancies last for years.

Wal-Mart is certainly not alone in this. The list of companies that have abandoned big boxes in metro Atlanta in recent years is long and growing: Upton's, Bruno's, A&P, Kmart, Service Merchandise, Cub Foods and many more. But Wal-Mart is the biggest of the big-box retailers, so it is at the forefront of the debate. It has more stores that are empty, or due to be empty within weeks, than most businesses have stores: nearly 300 nationwide.

It's not the empty box that's a problem to communities, it's the other stores who were depending on the "traffic" provided by the big box. But again, the article has no recognition at all that these empty stores cost Wal-Mart $$$--probably a lot more money than they "cost" the community. Still, it does profile Tony Fuller, head of Wal-Mart realty:
In the middle of all this stands a tall, soft-spoken Arkansas native named Tony Fuller.

He got his start selling shoes at a Wal-Mart in Jonesboro, Ark. Now he's a vice president of the company � and his ascension is not unique. Wal-Mart promoted 9,000 hourly workers into management positions last year.

Fuller now runs the day-to-day operations of a major Wal-Mart subsidiary, although most people probably have never heard of it.

It's called Wal-Mart Realty, and it's a big player in commercial real estate. Outside the industry, it tends to fly under the radar, because it has only one customer: Wal-Mart. All that Wal-Mart Realty and its 500 employees do is sell and lease vacant Wal-Mart stores....

The major question is whether WM is willing to lease or sell to competitors after it has decided to move. But most anti-WM activists don't understand that WM's new policy of selling to everyone just means that it only vacates stores that will not become threats if competitors fill them. Besides, if WM is moving out of a store, it is most likely an underperforming store; why would competitors want to move in?
Fuller said the deal with Home Depot shows that Wal-Mart Realty is aggressively marketing its vacant properties, even to competitors. "We'll do a deal with anyone," he said.

But some people who have dealt with Wal-Mart during relocations say that's not so.

Melanie Chen was Roswell's economic development director when Wal-Mart left the Holcomb Bridge site (she now works for a nonprofit organization in Atlanta). Firstly, Chen said, Home Depot is not a direct competitor with Wal-Mart.

"If Wal-Mart is calling Home Depot a competitor, then they're basically saying that everything in the retail world is a competitor," Chen said, echoing others. "There's not much overlap there."

When a real competitior, such as Costco, showed an interest, Chen said, Wal-Mart wouldn't deal. "They have one big condition: It cannot be a competitior," she said. "That much was clear to me."

When the Holcomb Bridge store was shut down in 2000, Fuller said, Wal-Mart Realty was transitioning into its new policy of leasing to anyone, so that property might have been an exception, he said.

"That was around the time when you saw the tide changing," he said. "I'm not going to try to kid anyone that we've always been doing it that way."

But even now, some people don't think Wal-Mart will sell or lease to direct competitors. "You won't see them turn [vacant stores] over to a Target or a Costco," said Norman, the author and activist.

Fuller said there might be some situations where Wal-Mart Realty did not lease to a particular retailer, but on the whole, he said, "We are much more aggressive today about doing those deals with our competitors, direct competitors." For example, he said, the company has leased or sold stores to Kroger, which compete with the food operations at Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Folks, remind me to write a review of Al Norman's new book; it's not good...

Posted by Kevin at 11:47 AM

July 14, 2004

WM Leases to Sears

If you believe some critics, the decaying hulks of former Wal-Marts dot the landscape, lowering competition and marring the landscape. Some people contend that WM simply refuses to sell or lease their old spaces (regardless of the cost of doing so). The argument is simply preposterous, but the only way to convince some people is to show examples.

Well, here is one example of WM selling an old space to Sears:

Pekin-AP -- Wal-Mart officials say Sears, Roebuck and Company plans to take over the former Wal-Mart store in Pekin.
Wal-Mart Corporation spokeswoman Sharon Weber says the store is the only one in the state that will be taken over by Sears.

Wal-Mart's lease on the building extends until 2011. But Weber says the retailing giant will sublease the building to Sears.

The Pekin Wal-Mart closed in April, a day before a new 203-thousand square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter opened less than a mile away.

Sears spokesman Chris Brathwaite declined to confirm that the company plans to move into the store, located about ten miles south of Peoria.

Posted by Kevin at 1:02 PM