A retail giant is hoping that smaller is better. The new Dorval Walmart store opened its doors last week in the former Zellers store in the Dorval Gardens shopping centre – marking the first opening in a provincial campaign that will see the retail giant open more 'urban-style' stores across the province.
The store – made up of two 40,000-square-foot floors – is the smallest building area of any Wal-Mart store in Canada and represents a new kind of store, said director of corporate affairs Alex Roberton.
"It's the smallest building area of any Walmart store in Canada," he said. Conscious layout decisions such as placing grocery items closer to the front of the store rather than at the back and re-orienting the escalator from the rear of the first floor to the front and adding a 'cart escalator,' that allows customers to bring their carts up the escalator with them, are part of the company's push to expand into more urban spaces.
"We've seen that customers in these areas are looking for convenience. The may come more often, but their baskets will be smaller," Roberton said, adding "it's easier to shop the store. Customers don't have to go all the way through the store to get a bag of milk."
It's the beginning of a trend in Walmart stores as the company begins a push to expand into urban areas where less real estate is available. Changes will inevitably be made as the store and its client base get to know one another, Roberton added.
"It is fluid, and we look forward to learning how to best serve the customers and ensure they get the lowest prices," he said.
Administrators received more than 2,000 applications for the 146 jobs created in the store, Roberton said, adding "roughly a quarter of those are former Zellers employees." The company granted interviews to every former Zellers staffer who wanted one.
"We did quite a bit of outreach," added Roberton, a Pointe Claire native who graduated from nearby Jean XXIII High School.
The new store also boasts a new manager who knows the area well. Andre Tawil ran the Vaudreuil-Dorion Walmart until May, when he started concentrating full-time on the Dorval store. Tawil said so far, so good as customers have been happy with what they've seen, he said, due to the way the store has been laid out.
"It's more open, and people are happy with the layout because there's more accessibility to items," Tawil said. He added that with 33,200 transactions recorded the first week of opening, the store has already "surpassed expectations."