Monday, March 16, 2009

We Don't Need No Pinche Walmart Supermarket.

We Don't Need No Pinche Walmart Supermarket.

I have to say, I'm not sure if I'm against or for Wal-mart. On one hand it offers a lot of food and other clothing options at a cheap price for those on a limited income. On the other hand it tears apart towns, puts mom and pop stores out of business and seems a little tacky. They do have a great selection of toys and gifts to choose from when buying crap for my friends during Christmas at a slightly lower price, so why not. I'll be for Wal-mart for the purpose of this blog.

It's already known that Los Angeles doesn't like them. In every attempt they have had to open one in the greater Los Angeles area, they've meet a lot of resistance. Perhaps with this new step they'll win the battle of Los Angeles...

Wal-Mart to open new Hispanic-focused chains

Wal-Mart plans to open its first Hispanic-focused supermarkets this summer in Arizona and Texas as the largest US retailer continues its drive to expand its dominance of the US grocery business.

The pilot stores, named Supermercado de Walmart, will open in Phoenix and Houston in remodelled 39,000 sq ft locations occupied previously by two of Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Market stores.

The retailer said that the stores were in “strongly Hispanic neighbourhoods” and would feature a “new lay-out, signing and product assortment designed to make them even more relevant to local Hispanic customers”. The staff will also be bilingual.

Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club warehouse store also plans to open a 143,000 sq ft Hispanic-focused store called Más Club in Houston this year.

Several leading regional US supermarket chains already operate Hispanic store brands, including Publix in Florida, which operates three Publix Sabor markets, and HEB in Texas, which opened a Mi Tienda store in Houston in 2006.

The markets include elements such as cafés serving Latino pastries and coffee, and full service meat and fish counters.

Leading retailers are also pursuing Hispanic consumers online, with Best Buy and Home Depot having launched Spanish-language versions of their e-commerce sites in recent months.

Eduardo Castro-Wright, the head of Wal-Mart’s US stores since 2005, has also been an advocate of testing new smaller, more focused formats, and raised the idea of turning the Neighbourhood Market into a Hispanic-style bodega concept several years ago.

He has also developed Wal-Mart’s efforts to customise its larger Supercenter stores, which have been grouped according to differing community profiles, such as urban, suburban, Hispanic and African-American, with customised merchandise.

A 195,000 sq ft Supercenter that opened in Texas last year included a tortilleria bakery, Hispanic foods and a larger selection of Spanish-language music and DVDs.

Mr Castro-Wright was previously head of Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary, whose store network ranges from large US-style Supercenters to small local bodegas, an upmarket supermarket chain and two restaurant chains.

Last year, Wal-Mart also began testing four new 10,000 sq ft Marketside convenience grocery stores in the Phoenix area – its first new format in a decade. Tesco, the UK retailer, also has more than 25 of its small Fresh & Easy markets in the Phoenix area
Sweet, a place that I can buy Mexican groceries for my hipster dinner parties without going to some scary looking hole in the wall! Why is anyone surprised about this? Hispanics are the largest minority group in America and spend billions annually. What ever will happen to the Madre and Padre shops when Wal-mart moves in? Now all the mom and pop hispanic owned stores can be put out of business too.

Thankfully I'm from L.A. so nothing is going to change. Believe it or not, Wal-marts are really different in different areas of the US. Sure you have your DVD and iPods, but in Utah and other Mormon areas they have larger, I want to say arts and crafts, but that's just not politically friendly. There's sushi made fresh and daily in some areas and in most ones near Spanish communities have plenty of Mexican products. So yeah, Wal-Mart is just making public what has been going on for a while.

Even with saying that, these new stores will probably be as authentically Hispanic as Wal-mart opening an Italian version of itself by selling six variations of Sargento cheese (look! REAL Italian cheese!) instead of the four varieties sold in the regular Wal-marts. I have to say, unless you're in a small town, there's really no reason why you can't find the ethnic markets that will provide you with what you need.

There's a bunch of giant ass Korean supermarkets in the US too. Hell, I love shopping at Korean, Japanese and Chinese markets. You'll catch me on Wednesdays at El Super weekly picking up very low priced and delicious fruits and veggies. But naturally no one cares because it's not a Pavilions or Ralph's. People seem to go all up in arms, especially in that part of the states. OH NO HISPANIC SUPERMARKETS!!!

Ethnic markets are awesome, I love the weird and wonderful stuff you can get at Asian ones. I'm sure whenever I end up taking my speshul lady to a Mexican mercados we'll find something neat and not often found at American markets that would be apart of a fresh and tasty meal. What are some of the differences? I guess the bakery and the whole fact that there's an in house Tortilla factory pumping out fresh Tortillas daily. Tortilla bakery may seem a bit different and strange but it's really a blessing as you have not lived till you had a freshly made tortilla.

Oh the delicious REAL sodas to be found here.

I'm not sure if Wal-mart is going to be anything more than a regular Wal-mart with a Tejano face to it. Is there a risk of driving out a lot of the genuine independent Mexican mercados? Maybe. But I doubt it as customers to that type are very loyal. Add in that you simply can't beat the prices at some of these places. They already have their regular Carnicerias to go for their meats. Hell, I have plenty in my neighborhood.

Hopefully the entire music section is dedicated to those cheesy generic bands that all wear the same outfit for some reason:

Oh, I guess they already do that...

I really hope their phone systems say 'for English, press 2' so people flip out even more. This is going to be in Texas after all. They bastardize Mexican food with Tex Mex, they deserve to get annoyed by having Spanish be the first language there.

Perhaps the fact that I'm sure many people will get outraged by this culture clash is a sign of how young our country really is. This shouldn't be news. I like living in a city that makes it less covenant for me to be complacent with knowing just one language. The United States needs to be more worldly and open to cultures and foods that aren't what your average white American grew up on.

Take a trip down to whatever ethnic area is near you and go into a store that does not look like they speak English if they could avoid it and look around. You'll be surprised on what new things you may see and eventually enjoy if you just give it a chance.

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