Wal-Mart: affordable and now, fun

Lower shelves and softer colours are designed to appeal to women


Shopping at Wal-Mart always means low prices, but it’s not known as a feast for the senses. Some say the interior design doesn’t so much whisper “linger awhile” as shout “load up your cart and get out.” But last week, the company unveiled a new look to help change that. Two supercentres in Bentonville, Ark., debuted new interiors designed to heighten the store’s appeal to women (who make up 75 per cent of its customers), help shoppers find what they want quickly, and position the store as “affordable fun” in a sinking economy.

Gone are the rows of sky-high shelving and aisles jammed with packing crates. Instead, curvy turquoise- and butternut-coloured kiosks appear to float in minimalist spaces. The new displays are also lower, so that customers can navigate the stores more easily.

Wal-Mart’s Canadian stores won’t sport such a drastic makeover, but spokesman Kevin Groh says they will feature better signage and spruced-up shelving. The health and wellness sections and in-store pharmacies have been revamped to project more of a “professional drugstore feel,” sometimes with walled-off consultation areas. The exteriors are being redesigned as well in some locations, moving from dark blue and grey to soft green or pumpkin. Even the product lineup is going more upscale with higher-end flat-screen TVs and new baby products to attract youthful shoppers.

In the U.S., where Wal-Mart has more than 4,000 stores, the company says it will focus on remodelling existing locations rather than opening new stores, at least for the time being. In Canada, where Wal-Mart has 310 locations, expansion plans will continue, along with subtle decor changes. Here, Groh says, low prices will still be the big draw. “But right after that, we want our customers to say, ‘Hey, this is a pretty nice place to shop.’ ”

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Wal-Mart: affordable and now, fun

  1. Lower shelves go in line with the lower wages they pay their employees, which are traditionally designed and not appealable to the women Walmart hires. Walmart should try giving some the money they spend on excuetives and managers. If Walmart continues to grossly exibit their spending ways, employees will revolt and finally get unions put into the workforce. Like the old commercial says pay me now or pay me later and later is coming very soon.

  2. I willalways shop at Walmart – mainly because the products are good (not great, but good), the prices are good also and the staff seem to be actually interested in serving you (so Joe Graves – I guess you might want to rethink your comments – even if people have to work at WalMart (and they don’t) they would not likely provide good customer service – but since they do, I have to assume they are happy with their jobs!

  3. Or afraid to lose them!

  4. I glad to see Maureen thinks the products are good, next time she’s shopping try to find something in the store that’s not made in China. The people making these products work in slave conditions, with no regard to any type of health or safety regulations, which explains the numerous unsafe products that are poisoning our children. But I guess those people must be happy to have jobs regardless of their health and that’s why your prices are cheap.

  5. Hopefully, I’ll live long enough to see companies like this go bankrupt. Big box stores employ people at minimum wage, provide no benifits and are responsible for the death of small business in this country. They purchase product at ridiculously low prices from manufacturers who feel trapped between a rock and a hard place. They purchase product from third world counties where people are forced to work for next to nothing. Maybe we’ll figure it out when the number of unemployed in this country exceeds the number of people who are employed. History will look back on big box stores as a blight on our economic system. On line shopping is no better. We’re all guilty of looking for the cheapest price without considering the welfare of our neighbours.

  6. I agree Ted, it’s as simple as outsourcing. Personally I never shop at Wal-Mart, though I did once apply for a job there, but didn’t get it. I might have been too honest in the process. When the manager asked me in the 3rd interview why I was there, I said because I sent in an application. They found it funny, but it seemed at my expense. They asked in the first interview what I knew about Wal-Mart and rather than say that they help outsource our labour to China I simply said they were big and everywhere lol.

    Anyway yeah, it’s hard to avoid buying Made in China products, but I am certainly not going to buy from the place that really got that ball rolling. I hope in some small way I’m helping out by doing that.

  7. I do shop at Walmart, there are some fairly decent prices on products that are not made in China…Stanley Tools comes to mind. I also shop online quite a bit, and I refuse to buy any product made in China and spend a good deal of time and effort looking to find North American products. The problem with any of these big box stores is that profits are never returned to communities in any fair proportion and that applies to Zellers, Canadian Tire and every other conglomerate owned entity. I’d love to fully support alternative local businesses, and where able I do and do so happily. I am currently trying to consume less overall, which is the better answer to the less important question of where someone shops.

  8. Consuming less is important but has nothing to do with where someone shops. We have an ever increasing population. This population has to be able to earn an adequate living. Our economy has to be able to employ the population. Big box stores do not employ enough people, do not pay adequate wages or supply benefits to support a family. Big box stores now sell everything from food to oil in the same building. They are driving small businesses out. The fewer small businesses we have, the less employment we have. On line shopping is even worse. The number of employees even less. All they need is a large warehouse, an online catalogue and a shipping department. It always amazes me that people can justify shopping at big box stores but when their kid’s sports team needs a donation they hit up the local small business owner. Chances of getting a donation from “big box” are almost negligable. That same small business owner might be your neighbour down the street. He’s the guy you didn’t buy that product from when you shopped at big box but he’s the guy you’re asking for a donation. He’s (she’s) also the one who will provide you the expertise with regard to the products you buy. It’s time to wake up and smell the tulips. Buy local from your small business owner.

  9. If you shop around you will find that Walmart is not the cheapest place in town. You can find many products at Dollarama that are 3 to 4 times the price at Walmart – Same packaging also! – Giant Tiger – Bargain Shop all have great deals every day – Even grocery stores can compete on electronics – clothing and other sundries. Many of Walmarts foreign suppliers also use some cunning methods to make you think you are buying North American – using phrases like Designed in Canada – Some companies like Roots – Tender Tootsies use the Maple Leaf on their packaging – then you have to hunt for the country of origin – usually not Canada,

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