Just a few weeks after Wal-Mart announced in the Wall Street Journal that it was going to start building smaller 40,000 s.f stores because its supercenters were “too busy and not convenient”, along comes Home Depot and spills the same story to the same newspaper. On May 13 Home Depot announced that it was going after the $50 billion “home improvement convenience market” that doesn’t take place inside the large Home Depot caverns. The press release said Home Depot was going to build four “traditional hardware stores” in New England. These stores, which the Wall St. Journal mistakenly called “neighborhood” stores, are aimed at the small do it yourself homeowner. The new 35,000 s.f. prototype store is slated for “densely populated areas” says Home Depot. Although these stores will be about one-third the size of their over-scaled stores, they are still significantly larger than most “neighborhood” stores–of any variety. So far, no one in the media has put together the fact that both Wal-Mart and Home Depot, which have come under increasing citizen opposition to the “big box” style store, have come to the conclusion to downsize their stores. Home Depot, for example, lost bids in three New England towns within the past month in large measure because their stores were considered too large by local citizens. Coincidence? Or the direct result of negative citizen response to megastores?
There is no such thing as a 35,000 s.f. neighborhood store. Home Depot now operates 657 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and wants to double that number by the year 2001. Go to Home Depot’s internet page and send them a citizen comment: Your stores are still too big for our “neighborhood”!