Wal-Mart, Coming to a City Near You

God Bless "Generica"!

City dwellers, privileged by the opportunity to shop at a greater percentage of unique, independent retailers, might soon have some 'splaining to do when Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, moves to town. At present the super giant is moving to add stores in Chicago, Philadelphia, and even New York City. It already has stores just outside Philadelphia, Washington DC and Los Angeles.

Wal-Mart is eager to expand operations from suburban areas and penetrate urban markets. Mission? Bring more average commodities to more average people. The sheer numbers of untapped, potential customers that exist in dense urban areas make it very appealing. The timing might be perfect, too.

According to a Financial Times report Wal-Mart has benefited from the recession. The article quotes Leslie Dach, head of corporate communications, as saying that Wal-Mart's role serving low-income customers during the recession had won the retailer "new respect from politicians, from economists and from the media."

But respect from the average urban dweller? You can hear the grumblings of a "not in my neighborhood" debate starting now. However, resistance to mass commercialization may be futile. Just look at the resistance to, and eventual acceptance of everything from mega bookstores (Barnes & Noble) to mega home improvement shops (Home Depot) to mega restaurant chains (Applebee's) finding homes in Manhattan, a place known for unique retail outlets.

If city retail begins looking like the suburban retail, we may find we're living in Generica.

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