The closure of the Walmart on Campus at Georgia Tech came as a surprise to many in the local community. While you may not like Walmart as a company, there is no denying their Walmart on Campus or "micro store" as it was known, on 5th Street at Tech Square, filled a need in the area. The store, a mere 2,500 square feet, had a full service pharmacy as well as select dry goods, frozen foods and assorted other commonly purchased items. The store open in time for fall semester 2013 and closed early last month. At the time of the closure no reason was provided. Theories were plentiful as to why the store closed, as it seemed it had been doing well.
I visited the store on its last day and was told by a store manager that Walmart had decided not to renew their lease. She seemed to indicate that she, too, was surprised the store had closed, but said the store was too small to meet the demands of customers. She hinted at the possibility of new, larger store opening in the area.
I contacted Walmart media relations regarding any possible relocation, and after a month, two emails and three calls, I received a response from William C. Wertz "Director of Communications - East Public Affairs & Government Relations."
“We are always looking for new ways to better serve our customers, and that includes providing students, faculty, and the surrounding neighborhoods with convenient access to quality and affordable merchandise tailored to their needs. We have been pleased with the customer response we have received from our Georgia Tech campus store, but for various business reasons we have made the decision not to renew our lease in this location. We will continue to serve students and the Georgia Tech community with our nearby Supercenters in the area.”
Not entirely satisfied with that response, I said "I was told at the time that the store closed that you (Walmart) were actively looking to open in a larger space nearby to serve the local community. I was made to believe this might be smaller than a marketplace store but larger than a campus location. While I understand that lease negotiations must be kept private, is that at least something that is being looked at?"
I was subsequently furnished this response
"To date we haven’t announced any plans for a store of any size in the Georgia Tech area, but I can tell you that we are always looking for new locations where we can better serve our customers and offer them the affordable prices we know matter so much."
It seems logical that if the company was pleased with the traffic the store received, they would be eager to replace the store. While Mr. Wertz was careful not to explicitly say so, I'd bet Walmart is actively looking for 4,000-5,000 square feet in the area.
There are a number of off campus high-rise apartments coming online in the next year or so and perhaps a location off campus, but nearby would be best.
Where would you like to see a Walmart on Campus reopen? Do you think the previous location was too small? How big should the new location be to meet your needs but not be too overwhelming?
Please share your thoughts below.