I'm a bit of a retail wonk because my first professional job in the civilian world was an editor for a magazine covering the automotive aftermarket (that's vehicle parts, accessories, chemicals and sundries). That's why I've interested in Wal-Mart's Marketside stores. From The Financial Times: Wal-Mart declined to give details of the new stores, but the company characterised them as comparable with its existing Neighborhood Markets, which it uses to “fill in” between Supercenters. At about 35,000 sq ft, the Neighborhood Markets are roughly the size of a traditional US supermarket. “We trial and test lots of different new formats and this would be an example of that,” the company said. But its new logo, filed in planning documents in Arizona and consisting of green lettering with a stylised tomato, egg and grape topped by a Wal-Mart blue star, suggests the format will – like Tesco’s Fresh & Easy – have a far stronger stress on fresh foods. The retailer has also registered a number of new trade names in recent months, such as City Thyme and Field & Vine, which some industry analysts believe could be used for new private-label fresh-food offerings. [Snip.] All the stores are in street-corner properties that were formerly occupied by drug stores. The company has applied for wine and beer licences for stores in the fast-growing cities of Gilbert, Tempe and Mesa, and has additional leases in the city of Chandler. The street-corner locations are of particular interest as the Times observes: Unlike the giant stores, the planning process for the new Marketside stores does not require public consultation, potentially creating a way for Wal-Mart to grow into cities and states where its Supercenter expansion has been slowed by union-backed political opposition. Ya think? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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