DENNIS SEID: Businesses must mull their biggest competition

DENNIS SEID

DENNIS SEID

There was much excitement earlier this month when Iuka-based Brooks Grocery broke ground on a planned 27,000-square-foot store in west Tupelo.

Located strategically at the corner of West Jackson Street and Coley Road, the property sits in the middle of a fairly densely populated area that has grown quickly in recent years.

The nearest grocery store is about 10-15 minutes away – not a terrible inconvenience, but for people on the go, time is precious.

Davis is not the first to envision a store in the area. Seven years ago, the late Clyde Whitaker – a former mayor and a developer at the time – and his business partner Mike Greer hoped to attract a grocery store to a 12-acre site behind Old Venice, BNA Bank and the fire station on McCullough.

Earlier this year, GW Developers, led by Greer, reintroduced the site as McCullough Crossing and said he was again looking for a grocery store.

Davis was among the potential grocers Whitaker had talked to, but a store opening in Iuka postponed his Tupelo plans until this year. Davis had scouted several sites in the area, including McCullough Boulevard, but wasn’t quite convinced that vehicles barreling down the road would slow down and take notice of a grocery store.

Instead, he selected the West Jackson/Coley spot, which was close to the neighborhoods from which his proposed store would draw.

But in the past week or so, the excitement about the store turned into a trepidation, as word spread that Wal-Mart Stores was looking to build one or more of its Walmart Neighborhood Markets in the vicinity.

The world’s largest retailer, with 11,000 locations in 27 countries, rakes in nearly half a billion dollars in sales a year. You’ve heard of economies of scale? Wal-Mart has it, flexing its buying power every chance it can.

Davis has said that he’s moving ahead with his plans, though he did add that they could change if Walmart comes into the picture.

Officially, Wal-Mart has not filed any plans with the city, though it has looked into the permitting process at three potential undisclosed locations.

If you’re Davis, or any other retailer for that matter, you have to keep an eye on the competition, especially someone like Wal-Mart.

His store likely would do quite well if built.

However, if the Neighborhood Markets are built, well, near Davis’ neighborhood, the business model would have to be tweaked.

Going head-to-head with Wal-Mart on prices is impossible, at least in the long term. You have to beat Wal-Mart on customer service and the experience customers have at every level of your business.

Can Tupelo accommodate Brooks Grocery and a Walmart Neighborhood Market?

That’s a critical question Davis has to consider, and one customers must honestly answer with their pocketbooks.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com