Walmart finally set to gain foothold in Boulder

BOULDER — Walmart has announced it is planning to open a new store in Boulder, reviving the company’s efforts to have a presence in the city and possibly renewing an ongoing controversy.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it will open a Walmart Neighborhood Market this fall in the Diagonal Plaza at 3303 30th St. According to the company, the 53,000-square-foot store will have from 65 to 95 employees. The store will fill a long-vacant spot at Diagonal Plaza.

The outlet will include a supermarket and pharmacy, and also will sell household products, spokeswoman Delia Garcia said.

The store will be about half the size of the Walmart Supercenters the company has built in recent years in Broomfield, Lafayette and Longmont.

“It’s the same Walmart value that they’re familiar with, in a different format and with a focus on groceries,” Garcia said. “It is an opportunity to serve customers in a different way.”

Garcia said there are more than 220 neighborhood market stores across the nation. Some of the stores are in cities where Walmart does not have flagship Supercenters.

“It does give us the ability to serve communities that maybe we haven’t been able to in the past,” Garcia said.

Despite efforts in the past, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) does not have a presence in Boulder. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has long tried to gain a foothold in Boulder, including a 2002 attempt to build a Supercenter at what was then Crossroads Mall.

The company faced a protracted campaign from anti-Walmart advocates, including the Boulder Independent Business Alliance, according to Boulder County Business Report coverage from that time. The effect on local businesses as well as Walmart’s business practices were cited by opponents as causes for concern.

Representatives of the alliance did not say whether they will oppose the Walmart store as they did in years past. However, they confirmed that they will continue to advocate for small, independent businesses.

“Boulder’s citizens are conscientious and concerned about keeping Boulder unique and thriving, and it shows by where they spend their money,” executive director Jennifer Johnson said. “Supporting Independents is supporting our neighbors who also live, work and play in Boulder.”

But many Boulder residents also make the trip to Supercenters in nearby cities, according to the company’s research, Garcia said.

“We know that customers are coming to Walmart from Boulder,” she said. “This is an opportunity to serve them in their community.”

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