New Walmart neighborhood market opens

The much anticipated Walmart Neighborhood Market off of Highway 12 opened its doors on Wednesday.

The pile of building supplies and busy construction site gave life to Walmart’s new, smaller concept, the “neighborhood market.” The neighborhood market is essentially a condensed version of the famous superstore, and resembles many of the smaller grocery markets found throughout the south.

Andrew Word, a senior accounting major from Prattville, Alabama, said despite adding competition to a small market, many small businesses have several advantages when compared to the national big-box chains.

“Small businesses have several advantages over large competitors like Walmart,” Word said. “Such as local brand nostalgia, product differentiation and quality customer service are areas in which local businesses have a competitive advantage to Walmart.”

Word said the advantages small businesses have are centered mainly around customer loyalty.

“Regarding brand nostalgia and loyalty, consumers with some disposable income may be more inclined to shop at a local business and pay slightly more in order to maintain the local business culture and support their friends, family and community,” Word said.

Small businesses combat national chains’ lower prices with customer loyalty, variety of goods and potentially better-quality goods or services, said Word.

“Walmart doesn’t necessarily have brand loyalty, whereas locally renowned smaller businesses tend to have a solid customer base,” Word said. “Walmart’s competitive advantage lies in its cost leadership, but local businesses have the advantage of product variety and product quality.”

Suzanne Phillips, employee at Peery’s Market from Lone Jack, Missouri, continued to point out the importance of really getting to know the customers.

“The customer relationships that we have in local, small businesses make the difference,” Phillips said. “Our customers value the time that we take to interact with them and show our loyalty to them, just as they show loyalty to us.”

Word said while Walmart does not have the same level of customer satisfaction small businesses contain, some consumers will sacrifice employee attentiveness for lower prices.

“If consumers are willing to spend more money for better products or services, Walmart has no way to compete with that at the moment without a major strategy shift,” Word said. “However, if a group of consumers prefers lower prices, there’s no way local businesses can compete unless they dramatically lower their own prices, which would harm their labor budget.”

Brandon Williams, store manager of the Neighborhood Walmart, said he looks forward to serving Starkville and MSU.

“We are excited to be new to the community and serve this side of Starkville and the Mississippi State campus, and look forward to building relationships in this part of town,” Williams said.

In addition to building relationships with the community, Williams said this Walmart was designed with the on-the-go consumer in mind.

“This is a new format for this part of Starkville, one whose smaller footprint focuses on fresh produce, and allows customers to get in and out quickly,”  Williams said. “Walmart continually invests in new ways to save its customers time and money – and this store is a great example.”

According to a Walmart press release, the new store will employ about 100 full-time and part-time associates, and will feature one of the only drive-thru pharmacies in Starkville. In addition, the 41,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market offers a wide variety of fresh produce and organic selections, a full-service deli and an in-store bakery with fresh breads.

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