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Think Out Loud

Box Stores in the City

Pete Springer/OPB

Both Walmart and Target are setting their sights on new locations in and around Portland for new stores. Walmart has applied for permits to open a small grocery store in a spot that once housed a QFC grocery store in Gresham. It is also remodeling properties in Lake Oswego and West Linn for future stores. Target is eying a CityTarget in the downtown Galleria location.

But these stores likely won’t look like the ones you’d find in the suburbs.

Both Walmart and Target have their own version of a neighborhood store. They stock a carefully curated collection of items that meet the needs of urban consumers. Their signage is often subtle or even impossible to connect with the big box retailer.

Industry analysts suggest that box stores are opting toward “fragmented” models to meet a changing demographic as cities swell and an urban growth boundary inhibits sprawl. But Portlanders have been less than welcoming to Walmart in the past.

Would a neighborhood version of a big box store appeal to city dwellers?

Would you shop at a chain store if it were deliberately crafted to fit into an urban environment? What would make an urban or neighborhood version of a chain store more appealing than its superstore counterpart?


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