Walmart Opens Itty-Bitty College Store
Walmart in mid-January opened a 3,500-square-foot full-service pharmacy and general merchandise store on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.
Called Walmart on Campus, the store replaces the 26-year-old Pat Walker Health Center Pharmacy, which closed in December. The store is open to both UA students and other residents.
Advertising Age, which first reported on the opening nationally in December, said Walmart on Campus appeared to be part of Walmart’s test of smaller-format stores. It noted that Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon told investors in October that Walmart planned to open 30 to 40 small and medium-format stores of varying sizes in 2011, partly to provide it with more flexibility in exploring urban markets. The medium size of these stores was said to be 30,000- to 60,000-square-foot range, including the retailer’s existing Neighborhood Market format. He also said a healthy pharmacy business had made Neighborhood Market more profitable.
Of the smallest stores, Mr. Simon said, "You won’t see a material amount of capital spent here, but we will be building these stores to learn from them."
Beyond its own experience, he said, Walmart intends to learn from competitors with small stores in overseas markets.
"There are hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of opportunities in the U.S. for small formats," Mr. Simon said.
Advertising Age speculated that if Walmart found a 10,000-square-foot concept that worked, it could easily acquire a drug chain such as Rite Aid to ease its entry into urban markets.
Walmart has not spoken to the business trade on the project. But comments to the college community appeared in a statement first announcing the opening.
"We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the university and to bring a great place for the students and the surrounding community to purchase prescriptions and other items," Keith Keltner, associate marketing manager with Walmart, said in the statement. "This is Walmart’s first store of its kind. Our full-service pharmacy that accepts a wide variety of insurance plans will be a great way to help the campus and neighborhood community save money with programs like $4 generic prescriptions. I think it’s a really good fit."
- The smallest Walmart in the world opened Friday – First Arkansas News
- Walmart Goes to College – Advertising Age
- Walmart to Open Retail Pharmacy on Campus – University of Arkansas
- Now open: Walmart on Campus – Fayetteville Flyer
Discussion Questions: What do you make of the learning opportunity for Walmart in its “on Campus” store? What opportunities and challenges do you see for Walmart as it opens smaller format stores?