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Walmart Becomes Latest to Test Local Market Concept

Today Walmart opened it's first California grocery store in Huntington Beach, and the chain has plans to open more including a Rancho Santa Margarita location.

Forget the greeters, the door-busters, and the bulk shopping.

Retail Giant Walmart Friday became the latest major retailer to test the concept of smaller, neighborhood-oriented markets in California.

Better known for its super-centers, Walmart opened its first Neighborhood Market in California Friday in Huntington Beach. The company plans to open its second Neighborhood Market in Rancho Santa Margarita in roughly two weeks with additional openings scattered throughout the county.

The Neighborhood Market is essentially a grocery store with a pharmacy. Huntington Beach's Beach Boulevard location is roughly 31,000 square-feet, standard for the Neighborhood Market concept and roughly one-fifth the size of a Walmart Super Center.

The Chain follows in the footsteps of  the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market and Target, both of which aggressively expanded their grocery offerings in Orange County this year.

“This is an opportunity to bring the brand to our customers in a more convenient fashion,” said Rachel Wall, Walmart spokeswoman.

The Neighborhood Market concept first began in the Midwest in 1998, and there are roughly 200 stores nationwide. However, this is the concept’s first foray into California.

With this newest concept, the chain takes pains to fit into existing neighborhoods, occupying vacant storefronts such as the former RiteAid that sat vacant for two years in Huntington Beach. Similarly, the company appeals to residents with offerings of local produce such as strawberries grown in Orange as well boogie boards and tabletop grills for the nearby beach.

“The Huntington Beach Neighborhood Market will help re-energize a shopping center deflated by years-long vacancies and bring increased visibility to surrounding businesses. This neighborhood-oriented store will bring added convenience for area residents and beach-going tourists,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Don Hansen.

As the latest local competitor, Walmart’s Neighborhood Market adds pressure to traditional grocery stores that have already suffered under incursion from of  Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market and Target. Earlier this year, throughout the region.

But Walmart executives believe the traditional grocery store model appeals to customers looking for affordability, speed and convenience for every-day items. The Neighborhood Market’s customers shop two to three times per week, said a company spokeswoman.

The company hopes to appeal to consumers’ pocketbooks, claiming the lowest prices around.

You be the judge:

A random sampling of staples offered at the new Huntington Beach store:

  • One dozen eggs: $1.68 or $4.21 for cage-free
  • Tropicana Orange Juice: $3.48
  • Family Size Doritos: $3.68
  • Boneless rib eye steak: $3.88 per pound
  • Lysol Kitchen Cleaner: $1.97
  • One large can of Pedigree dog food: 75 cents
  • One large box of Puffs plus with lotion: $2.12
  • A 100 oz bottle of Tide detergent: $11.97
  • 100 tablets of Regular Strength Tylenol: $6.72
  • 2 rolls of Walmart’s Great Value brand paper towels: $2.97
TC July 29, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Nancy, how many minimum wage jobs come with benifits? Where does WalMart purchase many of it's items, from US born business or overseas? I don't personally dislike WalMart, just do not think RSM needs a business that will take from what we already have plenty of..... If looking for a good deal on something, I'm sure it can be found within a mile already. New revenue/city income won't be generated because no people from Mission Viejo or Lake Forest will be coming to RSM because we have a WalMart Neighborhood Market... RSM has retailers with low enough pricing, another concept to bring in "new revenue" would be a step forward.
J.P. July 29, 2012 at 04:36 PM
I think this is great news for RSM. Competition makes every business better and delivers the best possible prices for the consumers. As a result, everyone wins (especially all the families in RSM). Great job RSM -- keep up the good work!
Jennifer July 30, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I have many concerns with the businesses coming to Rancho. It seems like we are losing quality stores and being replaced by low end stores. Look at our bookstore. Borders for Crown. Crown is a discount dump. Big Lots, Walmart Grocery. I sure do miss Circuit City. Why can't we attract the higher end stores?
Nancy Thompson August 02, 2012 at 12:42 AM
TC Im not defending Walmart by any means. Just saying another business would be more welcome in my eyes for our community. I understand the city does not have anything to do with who comes into our town, but didn't we have the EDDC??? that went out and looked at and asked other businesses to look at our city to open their business? FYI: Target gets their product from mostly the same places. Starbucks pays min. wages and DOES provide benefits if you work so many hours Lower prices does not bring lower class citizens:)
Gary August 09, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I will refuse to be a Walmart patron. I have yet to get over Walmart's claims for many-many years of "Made in America" when in fact the vast majority of the items sold by Walmart were manufactured in 3rd world country by slave labor. In my opinion, this is a clear demonstration of Walmart's poor business ethics, ethics which I believe have remained unchanged. And as a conscious consumer, I refuse to support a business who out-right lies to patrons in an effort to line their pockets with greater profits.

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