Chain targets local demographics

Wal-Mart is looking to improve its service across the nation.

In an effort to accomplish these goals, Wal-Mart enacted the concept called the “Store of the Community.”

In a prepared speech in April, H. Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO, spoke about Wal-Mart’s future changes. “We are finding that we need to adapt to America’s changing demographics. Our population is aging and becoming more diverse,” he said.

Scott also said Wal-Mart is working to improve communities.

Michael Mills, regional director of media and community relations for Wal-Mart, said the “Store of the Community” consists of three parts where Wal-Mart will give back to communities, localize its merchandise and revamp their stores to fit each community.

One aspect is the improvement of the stores interior and exterior. Many Wal-Marts will experience renovations to make the atmosphere more customer-friendly.

“We’ll open up the store, and in some cases we are renovating the stores completely,” Mills said.

Specific changes in Tallahassee are unknown at this time. Other changes will be to the products the chain sells.

Wal-Mart will look to provide more products and produce for the demographic of each store’s area. Mills said this has already been an active part of Wal-Mart.

In places like Tallahassee, where college students are a large part of the population, items such as refrigerators and other accessories for dorms are available in larger supplies.

“We stock our shelves with merchandise that are relative to our customers,” Mills said. “We are offering a larger supply of electronics. We even offered a new line of bedding this year.”

Kristina Parrilla, a 22-year-old student from Miami, said she has seen Wal-Mart’s new plan in action, noting the store now carries a wide selection in product brands like Goya.

“I know it meets my needs because I’m Hispanic. They have Asian and Hispanic foods,” said Parrilla, a fourth-year pharmacy student.

Most students said Wal-Mart meets their needs, but some exceptions may reside in the produce department.

Tesfa McCalla, 19, a second-year architecture student from Melbourne, said he notices that Wal-Mart does not have many of the products needed, such as scotch bonnets, to cook for people of different cultures.

“I don’t see any star food,” McCalla said. “It’s a yellow melon. It’s almost like a tangerine but a little bit sweeter.”

McCalla said Tallahassee possesses a demographic that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to cultural products.

“I know a lot of students are of West Indian descent. When you’re around here, you have to go to other stores,” he said. “But then again, that’s a good thing. You’re giving business to smaller businesses.”

Another product Wal-Mart is providing for specific markets is clothing.

These are lines directed toward the new trends and popular styles.

One of the clothing lines is Metro 7, a women’s clothing line that Mills described as being “fashion-forward.” The representative for the clothing line is Dayanara Torres, a former Miss Universe.

“We do have recent clothing line Exsto, that is a brand of clothes that has an urban feel to it,” Mills said.

Some students say that although localizing Wal-Mart has positive affects, it also comes with negatives.

“I can say it’s good for Wal-Mart, but it won’t be good for small businesses, mom and pop stores,” McCalla said.

But students wonder will these additions affect Wal-Mart’s low prices. “We’re going to continue to provide the value that Wal-Mart has in the past,” Mills said.