Competitors: Nothing Negative to Say about Wal-Mart

Oct 28, 2002
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The mere rumor that a Wal-Mart is coming to town is enough to ruin many a retailer’s day. For retailers in the community of West Bend, there was quite a bit of trepidation when the news that a Wal-Mart supercenter was planned for their little corner of southeastern Wisconsin.

So far, however, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that “the fear of ruin at the hands of the industry giant seems to have been overblown.”

A number of retailers interviewed for the Journal Sentinel article report that not only have they learned to compete with Wal-Mart down the block, many have benefited from the presence of the retailer in the community.

Ron Spaeth, a Goodyear tire dealer in West Bend found that sales began to increase
once the novelty of a new Wal-Mart wore off. To find a point of differentiation
with the supercenter, the dealership began selling higher-end tires and doing
repair jobs that Wal-Mart’s auto techs weren’t qualified to handle.

Another West Bend retailer found that it could deliver a service that consumers
needed and Wal-Mart wasn’t prepared to handle. The Pedal Moraine bicycle shop
saw sales increase approximately eight percent. A large part of the retailer’s
success comes from fixing bikes sold by Wal-Mart.

The owner of Pedal Morain, Russ Wanta said, “Sometimes, they (consumers buying
bicycles in Wal-Mart) come here straight from the store. Clearly, they’re the
biggest bike shop in town. But I don’t have anything negative to say about them.
My business is growing.”

Moderator’s Comment: Where are Wal-Mart’s weak spots?
How can retailers that compete with Wal-Mart identify these areas and exploit
them better?

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”


“Wal-Mart doesn’t sell half of the items I buy regularly
in the grocery store.”

GJA [George
Anderson – Moderator

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