Oct 202002
Authors: Patrick Crossland

It offers everything from lingerie to lettuce; anti-freeze to frozen peas.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter, 1250 East Magnolia St., has been open for one year this week, celebrating its anniversary on October 27. Store Manager Jon Ball said it has attracted college students with its late hours and reasonably priced food products.

The Supercenter primarily targets the population in northern Fort Collins in addition to students. Despite concerns with how the competitive prices were going to affect local mom-and-pop type stores with smaller, more specific inventory, stores like Beavers Market, 1100 W Mountain Ave., are still doing good business.

“We’re still doing good,” said Doug Beaver, owner of Beavers Market. “My business has been up, so it’s hard to tell, but we might be up more if they hadn’t come.”

Despite the Supercenter’s success, Beaver said he wasn’t worried about a drop in sales due to the competition, and that the Supercenter has had less of an effect than he thought it would.

However, Wal-Mart’s ability to charge low prices because of their size has attracted many students.

“I do most of my shopping there, I’ve found that prices are a lot cheaper,” said Heidi Wenger, a junior technical journalism major. “I think any place that can save a student some money is defiantly good.”

Ball said college students have much to do with the success of particular departments at the Supercenter.

“The frozen food departments do well because of college students,” he said. “It’s been a real strong department.”

Along with frozen foods, Ball said students’ healthy behaviors are apparent in the sales of health food products, produce and power bars.

“The produce department has done well, there’s a segment of college students that are real health-conscious,” he said. “We can definitely tell they’re shopping in those areas.”

Balls said the facility caters to students who are more likely to shop later in the evening due to busy daytime schedules.

“I shop there every once in a while if I need something late at night,” said Matt Weisbrod, a senior civil engineering major. Weisbrod said a setback of the lower prices and larger selection is that it often draws large crowds to the store.

“There’s too many people, its always busy and it’s too big,” he said. “If you want to find something, you have to search for half an hour.”

But Tim Hereford, a senior computer information systems major, has found that shopping late at night gives him the advantage of not having to deal with crowds and allows him to work around his busy school schedule.

“There are always people getting in my way and too many strangers, but the late hours are helpful, because it’s the only time I have to shop,” he said. “Late at night there’s not as many people so I can shop by myself.”

Ball said he’s received mostly positive comments from people about the Supercenter, and that complaints have been few, if any. He said competition is beneficial to the market and to the consumer.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter employs 6oo people and has contributed roughly $20,000 toward area schools, organizations and churches since opening.

-Edited by Vince Blaser and Becky Waddingham

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