Tech may soon become home to the nation’s smallest Walmart.
Earlier last month, Walmart signed a contract with Georgia Tech Auxiliary Services to establish a convenience store concept in the Tech Square space where Ribs n Blues previously existed.
“We were looking for something that was a non-food replacement when Ribs n Blues closed,” said Director of Auxiliary Services Rich Steele. “Walmart pharmacy was our number one target—there was a good connection with Georgia Tech—the CEO of Walmart had been on campus speaking a year and a half ago. Shortly after that, we started conversations with Walmart just about the idea [of having Walmart on Campus]…and to start some early negotiations. Those negotiations started 11 months ago in February 2012.”
The current 2500-square foot location will be smaller than the only other Walmart on Campus, also referred to as Walmart pharmacy, which is located in Fayetteville’s University of Arkansas. The Walmart on Campus located in Arkansas serves a variety of items, such as “ramen noodles, power bars, frozen pizza and soda,” reports the CSP Daily News.
“They will carry some electronics, peripherals, a few devices. They may sell some iPods too,” Steele said. “They will also sell a lot of grocery items… frozen foods, fresh foods,… grab-and-go and beverage items. It’s like a mini CVS.”
According to Steele, students were happy about the idea of this installment on Tech Square.
“Typically students don’t come to the table saying ‘Here’s what we want’..Usually we throw out some ideas and see what they think,” Steele said. “When talking about the Walmart on Campus concept being a pharmacy and extended convenience store, but with a pharmacy that accepts third party insurance, they felt that would be a good value.”
“I think it’s really cool, and its proximity to campus is convenient,” said Ava Bilimoria, a third-year ME major.
Students can ably benefit from the lower prices that Walmart stores carry.
“Also [because] it would have Walmart selections at Walmart prices, this would not be a convenience store like BP over on tenth street,” Steele said. “Even our convenience stores on campus have higher pricing than Walmart can offer because of how we have to purchase the product in smaller quantities.”
Walmart may be willing to invest up to one million dollars, the large sum including the costs of inventory, start-up cost and fixtures. Tech, however, will need to remove some of the built-in food service equipment that is left over from Ribs N Blues to create a basic, “vanilla-shell space” that Walmart can use. This may require an investment between $20,000 to $25,000 on Tech’s end.
“They will be asking for feedback from students, and they’ll take the feedback they get and act on it,” Steele said. “The concept will really evolve over the first three to four years.”