Wal-Mart plans to open six stores in DC over the next two or three years. Yes, six. And interestingly, the designs put forth for each of the six are quite different from one another, and from anything Wal-Mart has yet built in the United States.
Two of the proposals are for multi-story, mixed-use buildings with apartments on upper floors and underground parking. One proposal fits snuggly into a neighborhood main street. Another anchors a large town center development. The last two are more traditionally suburban, with parking lots out front.
Given the variety of designs, and the fact that the stores are in such close proximity to each other, one has to wonder if Wal-Mart is treating the District as an experiment in urban store-building.
Surely the corporate office will compare sales at the D.C. stores. Surely they will notice which ones attract the most customers. Surely they will cite their successes and failures in the District when planning stores in other central cities.
Get ready to be a guinea pig, D.C. Wal-Mart will be watching.
Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at BeyondDC.com. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.