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Walmart to set up 'neighborhood' shop on outskirts of Chinatown

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012, at 12:08PM
Flickr via Guanatos Gwyn

Walmart plans on opening a "Neighborhood Market" on Grand and Cesar Chavez avenues.

Superstore giant Walmart is planning to open a new location on the corner of Grand and Cesar Chavez avenues on the outskirts of Chinatown.

The Los Angeles Times reports that this location will be the first "Neighborhood Market" location in L.A. County. Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo told the Times that his company planned to open the 33,000-square-foot grocery store next year on the ground floor of a residential complex for seniors.

Walmart's "Neighborhood Markets" are simplified versions of the everything-store that attempt to streamline shopping by only selling groceries, pharmaceuticals and general merchandise (no hair salons or tire rotations here.)

A typical "neighborhood market" is staffed by fewer than 100 employees, compared with the roughly 350 employees who work at each 24-hour Walmart "Supercenter."

Restivo said the L.A. store would give Downtown residents affordable food options as well as a pharmacy.

"Right now, they've got one full-service supermarket serving a 30-block radius. So our store is going to be part of the solution for folks who want fresh food options close to where they live or work," he told the L.A Times.

But not everyone is welcoming the discount superstore with open arms.

KTLA reports that the chain's new Downtown presence is drawing criticism from labor unions, who accuse Walmart of offering low-quality, low-paying jobs.

Others say that the "Neighborhood Market" brand is merely a way for them to side-step existing L.A. ordinances.

Gina Palencar of LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for A New Economy), told the L.A. Weekly that a superstore ordinance passed in 2004 enables the city to weigh different factors, including job quality and business loss, when deciding whether to allow big box developments to proceed.

This law was passed after Walmart itself tried to open a store in Inglewood and was ultimately defeated by a coalition of small businesses, clergy, community groups, and unions, Palencar said.

Construction on the Chinatown Walmart is scheduled to begin this Summer.

To hear more about Downtown's Walmart, listen in to KPCC's Patt Morrison

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