story by Kim Souza
Springdale, a town of 70,000, has been underserved by Wal-Mart Stores but that’s about to change as the retail giant continues to blanket Northwest Arkansas with new stores.
Wal-Mart announced Friday (June 27) plans to open a new Neighborhood Market for Springdale, creating about 95 jobs in the city. The 41,000 square-food hybrid grocery story will be located on Don Tyson Parkway near the Interstate 49 interchange. The store is expected to open in the fall of 2015.
“We are excited to continue growing our partnership with Wal-Mart,” said Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse. “Wal-Mart provides job opportunities for our community while helping our city to grow its tax base and provide for the needs of our citizens.”
The retailer is also putting the finishing touches on a new Walmart Supercenter in northwest Springdale, near Elm Springs Road and I-49. This retail center will open later this summer.
“Wal-Mart is excited to continue to grow with Springdale and continue to bring access to affordable food and our everyday low prices,” said Brian Hooper, Walmart vice president of real estate. “We are thankful for Mayor Sprouse, the city staff, the Springdale Planning Commission and the Springdale City Council for their partnership in the past, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them as we work to expand grocery offerings for the people of the community.”
This latest building announcement marks 13 new Wal-Mart projects announced or completed in the past 18 months as the retailer works to fill in areas with stores as part of the its tethering concept, already being tested in North Carolina.
Jeff Davis, chief financial officer for Walmart U.S., said recently that the retailer is not concerned about cannibalization with its aggressive new builds. He said the minimal distance Wal-Mart is willing to build a new Neighborhood Market is within one to two miles of a supercenter.
Davis said the retailer has discovered that when it locates smaller groceries in areas where it already has strong brand recognition it’s other retailers who lose share, not the supercenters.
Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart U.S., has said the smaller hybrid Neighborhood Markets are posting strong comparable sales on par with Kroger, one of its competitors in large markets. He said consumers shop the smaller grocery format for fill-in trips, but they also frequent their local supercenters for larger stock-up trips. He said the Neighborhood Markets that sell fuel and offer pharmacy with a wide assortment of fresh produce compete on par with the top grocers in the country.
Sprouse is excited about the retail growth for west Springdale and said he believes the Wal-Mart projects will help keep more sales tax dollars in the city, as residents on the northwest side of town could get to the supercenter in western Rogers, straight up I-49, by the time they made it all the way across town in Springdale.
“This location of the new Neighborhood Market is southeast of the Don Tyson interchange, which we are opening up next week to traffic. I think it’s a great location for a grocery market and fuel option right there near the I-49 corridor,” Sprouse said.
Wal-Mart’s build out in Northwest Arkansas includes: Neighborhood Market grocery stores in Farmington, Pea Ridge, Centerton, downtown Rogers, downtown Bentonville and west Springdale.
Decatur is getting a new Walmart Express Store early next year. In Bentonville, aside from the downtown Neighborhood Market, there is another supercenter in the planning stage near the Bella Vista line and the new drive-up grocery depot expected to open this fall. In the past year, Wal-Mart has opened a Neighborhood Market to serve the Southwest side of the Bentonville, and its first convenience store, Walmart to Go, along Walton Boulevard.