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Wal-Mart’s attempts to cater to the upper class are misguided

Can you imagine buying fresh sushi and a $500 bottle of wine from Wal-Mart? Well, if you live in Plano, Texas, then you don’t have to imagine it, because that is exactly what is being sold at a Plano Wal-Mart.

According to the Associated Press, Wal-Mart wants to catch up with the much more “chic” Target stores.

But why? Fortune magazine reported in the Fortune 500 that in 2005, Wal-Mart was ranked No. 1 among America’s largest corporations, while Target ranked a measly 27. Is it not enough to be the largest corporation and retailer in the world? Apparently not.

In the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, a scene is shown in which the opening of a Wal-Mart causes the local Mom and Pop shops, with specialties such as groceries and hardware, to shut down. And now Wal-Mart wants to expand its market even more and will probably close even more small businesses if its plan goes through.

There goes the local winery and Japanese restaurant.

Wal-Mart is just testing the waters in Plano to see if the “upscale shopper” – the people who aren’t the stereotypical Wal-Mart customers – will be shopping.

But they won’t. Why not? Simply because people go to Wal-Mart for their toilet paper, not for a Starbucks-like café with Internet access. And if people can afford $100-a-pound gourmet cheese imported from France, they would go to a gourmet cheese shop, not to a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

So the “new” stores will be catering less to the lower- and middle-class shoppers. It doesn’t seem logical. Wal-Mart is where people go to get “stuff” cheap.

According to MSN Money Specialist Liz Pulliam Weston, the Wal-Mart shopper’s income is lower than the national average income.

Wal-Mart is trying to reach a new demographic; however, it might be sending away its best customers in bringing the Plano experiment to the rest of the world.