Wal-Mart Testing New Format To Lure Urban Shoppers

In an effort to compete with discount chains that appeal to a more urbane demographic, Wal-Mart may change its store format for a new Chicago area store.
August 2, 2006, 11am PDT | Mike Lydon
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"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is looking to bring its new upscale Supercenter to the Chicago area.

Trying to latch onto the cheap-chic success at rivals Target and Costco, the Bentonville, Ark.-based discount chain is testing stores that appeal to women and more affluent customers. Its first test store opened in March in Plano, Texas, just outside of Dallas.

The Plano store touts a sushi bar, Wi-Fi coffee shop, gourmet cheeses, an expanded selection of organic food, premium wines, wood floors and even flowers in the women's bathrooms.

The store layout resembles Target, with wider aisles and signs that easily identify departments. The apparel area has its own cashiers, and shoppers carry their clothing purchase out of the store on hangers instead of in plastic bags.

'We're looking at several sites where we could do that type of store,' said Todd Libbra, regional general manager and vice president of operations for Illinois. 'If we find the right location, we're ready to go forward with it.'"

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Published on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 in The Chicago Tribune
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