EDITORIAL: Walmart’s double-edged sword

Last week’s announcement that a Walmart Super Center would anchor The Shoppes at Latham Circle was a relief to the project’s developers, but it may not be the saving grace they were looking for.

Ever since the old Latham Circle Mall was torn down late last year in favor of The Shoppes project, there had been speculation as to what would be the anchor store for it. Initially it seemed like JC Penney would remain as the anchor, but the company closed its freestanding store shortly after the wrecking ball took down the mall it was attached to. There had been rumors that Whole Foods or Wegmans would establish a store on the circle, but Whole Foods chose to take up part of the Sears location at Colonie Center and Wegmans never materialized.

Enter Walmart. Although it is the exact opposite of a high-end chain store, the Arkansas-based discount department store saw a niche it could fill by establishing a Super Center on the circle – one that includes a supermarket, which had been on the list of possible anchors for The Shoppes, as well as its usual array of clothes and home goods.

There is a catch, though. Walmart will close its nearby Latham Farms store – one that does not have a supermarket or the ability to add a supermarket to its footprint – in order to open its Super Center on the circle. That will create a huge hole for Latham Farms to fill, and one that likely won’t easily be filled by one retail store. Fortunately for Latham Farms, it still has large retailers such as Home Depot and Hannaford to continue to bring customers into its parking lots. The loss of a Wal-Mart won’t be felt as badly at Latham Farms as it might at a smaller strip mall area.

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