The state’s first Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, a grocery concept focused on convenience and low prices, is scheduled to open Wednesday morning on East Little Creek Road in Norfolk, Virginia.
The 45,000-square-foot store looks like a traditional supermarket – more akin to local rivals Harris Teeter and Farm Fresh than its sister Wal-Mart Supercenter. About one-fifth the size of a Supercenter, the Neighborhood Market abandons the open, brightly lit, warehouse feel and straight aisles of a Supercenter in favor of cozy specialty areas with track lighting and curved walls for produce, meats and deli.
Jackie Russell, the Norfolk VA Neighborhood Market’s manager, describes these areas as “little shops.” The store’s plentiful and prominent signs show the names of departments against a peaked-roof backdrop.
“We’re designed to be upscale,” Russell said, with “better presentation” at Wal-Mart’s low prices.
The store focuses on fresh goods and gives shoppers the ability to run in and out quicker than giant discount stores might permit. The store has a larger frozen-foods section and pizza ovens to bake slices to go.
In other ways, it is every bit a Wal-Mart store, though green is the dominant color, rather than the discounter’s well-known blue. Shoppers will find most of the same grocery merchandise they see in a Supercenter, though the Neighborhood Market will have a more limited selection of some items. It might not carry every size box of Cheerios, for example, just the most popular ones.
In other categories, where a Supercenter offers three price ranges, Neighborhood Market sells the two at the higher end, Russell said. She pointed to the two brands of cold cuts in the deli: Wal-Mart’s Prima Della brand and Sara Lee. “They have the good, better, best,” she said of the Supercenter. “We have the better, best.”
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open a Neighborhood Market later this year in Williamsburg in the Settlers Market area of New Town and another in Virginia Beach in 2010. The retailer launched the concept in 1998 with the first store in its hometown of Bentonville, Ark., and now has more than 145 locations, mostly in the South.
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