MARKETSIDE’S PROMISES…

The Financial Times notes that Wal-Mart has formally confirmed the locations of the first four Marketside boutique grocery stores around Phoenix, Arizona. The words on the website promise great things. But then flacks always do. Can you imagine Wal-Mart proclaiming of one of its supercenters:
Our associates are passionate about food — and about delivering top-notch customer service. They're prepared to answer your questions, help you select a delicious meal solution, and fill you in about foods that are grown or produced locally.
Or how about:
Marketside is designed for the quick grocery trip — when you're looking for an inspiring yet easy meal solution, or need to pick up last-minute ingredients, simply swing by your neighborhood Marketside on your way home! So when you think of food, think of Marketside — and get inspired to think beyond your typical dinner menu.
Me neither. And oh, am I the only person on the planet who's noticed that there is nothing in the name, the decor, promotions, that proudly tells the worlds that Marketside is part of the Wal-Mart empire? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

18 Responses to “MARKETSIDE’S PROMISES…”

  1. Jeff:
    I think this shows that Walmart has been reading our blog. I’ve said for years that the only way they can expand towards a more affluent demographic is to create a new brand.

    Call it the Lexus approach. Of course the Lexus is actually a better car than some of the others made by the parent, whether Walmart provides better quality in this case remains to be seen.

    When doing this sort of image shifting the last thing you want to have is any identification with the disfavored parent visible.

  2. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Robert,

    You’re certainly correct.

    But I, for one, intend to continue to do my best to pull back the curtain.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  3. Mirele says:

    Let’s see, I live in Mesa, suburb of Phoenix…we already have the Super Wal-Mart. Then we have the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market…and now they’re coming up with this Marketside concept? I believe it’s to challenge Tesco’s Fresh ‘n’ Easy market concept, of which there are nearly two dozen in the Phoenix area already, and more coming. Even the color scheme appears to be copycat.

    I wonder if Wal-Mart’s going to build new buildings (as they did for the Neighborhood Markets) or if they’re going to take over old Oscos and Walgreens as Tesco did for Fresh ‘n’ Easy.

  4. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Mirele,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to join the dialog by writing a comment. Building our community is all about the conversation.

    What has been your experience in shopping at the Tesco stores (if you’ve done so)?

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  5. UncleBob says:

    I’d venture to guess that Wal*Mart will build new buildings – unfortunately, the older buildings tend to have issues (generally in relation to heating/cooling, but general repairs as well) that simply don’t make it a financially responsible decision to reuse them.

    This is why a lot of the old “Uptown Store Fronts” stay empty – the buildings simply are not built in such a way that the temperature can be regulated at a point where customers are comfortable without running up crazy gas/electric bills or extensive remodeling (which can be difficult (i.e.: expensive) to do uptown and when dealing with buildings that tend to be connected as the uptown store fronts usually are). It’s just cheaper in the long haul to build a new store instead of remodeling another.

    As much as I dislike Government interference on private property, I wouldn’t be against some kind of “use it or tear it down” for *all* buildings…

  6. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Bob,

    Generally speaking I’d agree with you. In my younger days I did some HVAC work with my grandfather in Marietta where we were dealing with older buildings. Brick buildings were well insulated enough, but the challenge was running duct work.

    Commercial buildings were OK as long as the owner was willing to do a drop ceiling, but if there was a decorative tin or plaster ceiling that the owner wanted to preserve, then the basement was the next option.

    For second and higher floors, the duct work would go on the exterior of the back of the building. It wasn’t pretty, but it was functional and it was the front facade that mattered.

    This mostly applied to buildings that went up pre-WW II. Construction after WW II isn’t worth retrofitting. Here in Cleveland homeowners in the suburbs buy what they call tear-downs. 40-50 year old houses that they bulldoze and start over with.

    If Wal-Mart is smart, it will renovate where it can — even if it means just keeping the facade — so as to boost the neighborhood store image. It will cost them more in the short run, but could have important benefits if they’re really in it for the long haul.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  7. ellen says:

    Do you know where the stores will be? I live in Tempe and Wal-mart has bought the vacated Mervyns at Rural and Southern. They have posted a sign about “Marketplace” hiring

  8. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom Ellen,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to write a comment and join the dialog. Building a community is all about our conversations.

    According to the Marketside website, the locations are:

    838 W. Elliot Rd., Gilbert, AZ 85233,
    7562 Baseline Rd., Mesa, AZ 85208,
    950 N. McQueen, Chandler, AZ 85225 and
    910 E. Elliot Rd., Tempe, AZ 85284.

    You can see maps of the location on the website.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  9. JT says:

    I live close to one of these “new” concept stores (within walking distance) and I can honestly say that I will never step foot into these stores. You can place a pretty bow on……..but it is still a………

    I was really hoping to have a Fresh & Easy in this location as the food and customer service is top-notch. If you have not stopped by one of the F&E stores, you should.

    As you can tell I am no fan of Walmart or the preditory practices of the company.

  10. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom JT,

    Thank you for the update.

    My understanding is that the stores are not yet open. What have you been able to learn about Marketside vs. Fresh & Easy?

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  11. JR says:

    Hello to all….

    Having travelled to Europe so many times, in particular the UK…..I have given Fresh & Easy quite a few visits. My overall impression is that it is convenient and offers some rather unique items. My overall impression would be to grade it a B- at this point.

    And I have seen Walmart’s name connected to Marketside’s website. It perhaps is low profile, which is probably an initial benefit. I only mention that in regards to Walmart’s image I recall shopping at them many years ago and did not care for the store for so many different reasons. I also was rather upset in reading about a subrogation (their self insured medical unit wanting restitution on an insurance settlement with one of their employees who I believe was injured on the job). However, I think they finally resolved that matter.

    Today, I readily shop at Walmart. Their prices are normally unbeatable and yes, you do not receive the personal attention that you should receive at the more upscale grocers. What will make me even moreso wish to see the concept suceed is that first I believe that Tesco’s concept is rather high priced on different venues, does not duplicate the specialty items in Trader Joe’s (even though their’s is apparantly based on availability and therefore changes quite often, and finally due to the how I perceive the total disregard or concern of a large grocer’s customer service on a simple request at a store that must have gone through a multi million dollar remodeling effort recently. Only the Divisional Manager took the time to follow through on this request after a multitude of complaints to the store’s personnel.

    So, despite the overall poor image from the past of Walmart, I hope that this concept not only delivers….but over exceeds my expectaions. I briefly read the blogs above, but I recall my feelings about Japancese built cars 20 or so years ago. Now I look up to Infiniti and Lexus as brand names in spite of my intital feelings. I hope the same happens with Marketside.

    My best to you all,
    JR

  12. Jeff Hess says:

    Shalom JR,

    First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to write a comment and join the dialog. Building a community is all about our conversations.

    Second, you might want to pick a different signature since we have other JR’s here and I wouldn’t want you to become confused with someone else.

    Your mention of the Japanese car expansion is a good one because it reflects an old Detroit model: various car brands targeted at different economic levels all made by the same corporation.

    People didn’t by General Motors cars (unless you bought a GMC truck); they bought a Chevrolet, a Pontiac, an Oldsmobile or a Cadillac.

    There are people (I’ve met them) who don’t know that an Infiniti is made by Nissan (Datsun) or that the Lexus is a Toyota product. (And neither Nissan nor Toyota mentions that fact on the front page of their websites.

    This kind of vertical integration has worked in clothing retail — see The Gap with its Old Navy, Forth & Towne, Piperlime, Banana Republic, Baby Gap and, of course, The Gap, retail concepts.

    I don’t think anyone has done this with general retail, but I see this as where Walmart is headed. If Sam’s Clubs is the bottom end, Walmart is the next step up, then Marketside is the high end.

    The flaw, I think, is that for General Motors, Nissan and The Gap, their low-end offerings represents entry level products: good but less expensive, following the Good, Better, Best marketing paradigm.

    The problem for Walmart is that its trying to start out with poor and work its way up to almost good.

    B’shalom,

    Jeff

  13. Liz says:

    Hey,

    I work for one of the Marketsides, and honestly, it’s not that bad. (Though I really do HATE walmart with a passion.) I liked Marketside way before I started working there. And after I went into Fresh and Easy (http://freshandqueasy.com/) I realized how much better Marketside is. It’s more colorful and it even has a REAL produce department, unlike F&E which only has packaged fruits and veggies! Haha!

    They don’t mention that it’s a part of WalMart because they want the Marketside name to stand alone and not be the little sister of WalMart. I think most of our customers are satisfied with Marketside and would rather go there than the big WalMart down the street.

    Thanks,
    Liz

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Liz,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for takking the time to better inform us about Marketside. Building our community is all about our conversations.

      You make my case very well when you say that you hate Walmart. That Walmart would operate two such businesses, one where working conditions are mind numbing and the other invigorating, is a large part of the point I am attempting to make.

      Marketside is better for two reasons: first, Walmart is going up against serious competition; and second, Walmart is attempting to attract the non-Walmart shopper.

      Here’s my prediction: once those two factors disappear, Walmart will walmartize Marketplace and people will hate working there just as much as other Walmart employees.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  14. Linda Jones says:

    I’ve been driving by the Marketside on McQueen for umpteen months and finally went in — what a fabulous little store! Everything is so clean and neat and CHEAP — I’m old but I would love to work there! And yes, it now says “by Walmart” on the sign.

    I never bother with the big Walmarts — too much stuff. This is totally different and so pleasant.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Linda,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to add to our discussion. We build our community with our conversations.

      That’s true, that’s absolutely correct. You had the precise experience that Walmart wanted you to have and that’s good.

      Where were you shopping during all those months when you were driving by the Marketside? Will that business, or businesses, suffer without your, and others like you, patronage?

      Will that be good for your community?

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

  15. Just Me says:

    Wal-Mart has remodelled many of their delis into “Marketsides”. Does that now make them better places to work? Somehow, I doubt things have improved with the name change.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Shalom Just Me,

      The Walmart in Cleveland Heights is not a supercenter (we fought that off successfully), but we do have Supercenters in the greater Cleveland area.

      I can see that it’s time for a field trip to my nearest supercenter.

      B’shalom,

      Jeff

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