The media is reporting today that soon you’ll be able to get furniture, Fritos and Fords at Wal-Mart. Apparently five Wal-Marts in Houston, Texas will be hawking used cars from parking lots that were supposed to be for customer parking. Wal-Mart is locking bumpers with Asbury Automotive, to run a six month test business in everyday low price cars.According to USA Today, the stores, will operate under the logo Price 1, will sell used cars no older than 4 years, and less than 75,000 miles. The cars will come with a five-day money-back refund, and a 3,300-mile warranty. Asbury is also throwing in a one year roadside assistance plan (just flag down any Wal-Mart truck!). The Wal-Mart agreement is designed to take some air out of the tires of Circuit City’s CarMax chain. How Wal-Mart is getting away with putting up prefabricated buildings in their parking lots should interest local zoning officials. Wal-Mart often asks for parking lots large enough to phase in accessory businesses, but some zoning codes prevent such parking lot businesses on traffic safety grounds. This deal with Asbury is basically a lease agreement. USA Today says Wal-Mart does not have a financial interest in the company, and the stores will not be using Wal-Mart’s name — for now anyway. Wal-Mart’s PR guy told the paper:”This is consistent with our program to provide one-stop shopping. You can get your hair done. We have banks, optical and now we are looking at getting cars as well.” Someday you may be able to drive your Wal-Mart car out of the driveway of your Wal-Mart home, and kiss your Wal-Mart wife and kids goodbye, grab your Wal-Mart newspaper as you head off to your prevailing wage Greeter job at Wal-Mart. Don’t forget to stop by the Wal-Mart bank, honey, to pick up some cash for the Wal-Mart Gas N Lube station. Be careful not to speed, or you’ll get pulled over by the Wal-Mart cop.
One Nation. One Store. For All. This move by Wal-Mart to kick the tires of a used car franchise is wonderful. Now the merchants will be saying: “When they got into discount merchandise, I didn’t get involved, because I didn’t own a department store. When they got into groceries, I didn’t say a word, because I was not a grocer. When they got into gas stations, I kept my mouth shut because I did not pump gas. When they got into newspapers, I didn’t complain because I don’t own a newspaper. And when they got into used cars, I didn’t say anything, because my used car lot was surrounded by empty store lots.” I can only hope that more and more Americans will see this horizontal movement into far flung product lines as a dangerous move by Wal-Mart to lay waste to yet another class of businesses. I can’t wait for Wal-Mart to get into the business of government. Uncle Sam Walton would be so proud. Who needs a Congress with Wal-Mart around? It’s easy to drive a Wal-Mart car: just take the low road, always!