Wal-Mart’s saturation strategy is simple. “We became our own competition,” Sam Walton said. They are living up to their goal in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where Wal-Mart already has a store in Danbury, Stratford, and Shelton. Now the retailer has apparentely agreed to sign onto a 450,000 s.f. project in Stamford, being proposed by National Realty & Development, which is headquartered in Purchase, New York. The proposed Wal-Mart would be 150,000 s.f. The project would include other tenants and 550 apartments — all squeezed onto just over 4 acres of land, known as the ‘hole in the ground’ which has sat empty for two decades. The National Realty project sits across from a 873,000 s.f. mall called Stambord Town Center, which was built 21 years ago. There is also a new 195,000 s.f. Target store being built nearby. There are two Wal-Marts within 15 miles of the downtown Stamford site. The head of the city’s Downtown Special Services District thinks all this big box sprawl in just what Stamford needs. “if you don’t like Wal-Mart that’s one thing,” Sandy Goldstein told the Fairfield County Business Journal, “but you can’t say it’s overkill when our research shows the city is at least 1 million square feet sort of where is should be in terms of retail.” But Goldstein has done no study of what existing businesses will be driven under by Target and Wal-Mart. The two stores combined total nearly 350,000 s.f. of new discount stores — or nearly 9 football fields of new retail. Goldstein said Wal-Mart’s saturation of the area was designed to prevent competitors from coming in and ‘filling the slack’. No one is mentioning the inevitable closure of existing Wal-Mart discount stores. Any Wal-Mart store today that does not contain a full-line grocery store is likely to be empty soon. The company has 324 discount store on the marketplace today. Existing merchants express the concern that Wal-Mart and Target could cause the Stamford Town Center to fail, leaving 873,000 s.f. of dark space in downtown Stamford. A local group is starting to form to oppose this saturation store.
Wal-Mart’s bid to move into downtown Stamford is part of its recent push into more urban locations. With only 4.2 acres for this whole project, Wal-Mart will have to build up, not out as it has done in rural markets. But studies show that up or out — Wal-Mart 60 to 80% of Wal-Mart sales come from existing merchants. For contacts with local anti-Wal-Mart residents in Stamford, contact [email protected]