Thanks to Collective Bias and ConAgra, I recently had the opportunity to take a shopping trip over at the new Gentry Walmart Express, a smaller, more convenient version of the sprawling Walmart Supercenter that we've all grown accustom to in the last few years (click here to see my story on intersect). Though the Express version carries many of the same items at the same competitive prices, it focuses much more on convenience, while the Supercenter seems to focus most of its energy on variety. Read below to get my take on how each one ranks in three categories: parking/accessibility, variety of products, and convenience.
|parking lot at Walmart Express|
Hands down, the Walmart Express has it. Check out the parking lot: small, well-structured, and easy to access. Not to mention the fact that there are no stop signs in the parking area, which can frustrate drivers (i.e., me). It's just a normal open lot. For me, this is a huge benefit. There have been numerous occasions where I have shopped at a Harp's or Walgreen's store simply because I didn't feel like dealing with the Walmart parking lot, despite the fact that I had to pay more for the item. So, in my opinion, the Walmart Express really did well here.
Variety of Products
|tomato sauce at the Walmart Express|
This would have to go to Walmart Supercenter. I have spent many an hour perusing through aisles of peanut butter, tomato sauce, and hair care products trying to select the right one. It seems that Walmart Supercenters carry almost every option on the market when it comes to basic cooking, cleaning, and home care products. The Walmart Express, while clearly trying to keep some variety in stock, does not live up to its larger counterpart. Here are a few examples:
- I like Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It's available at my local Walmart Supercenter and Neighborhood Market, as well as other local grocery stores. And while the Walmart Express carried almond milk, it only carried Silk PureAlmond. Not a big deal (I mean, they did have goat milk, soy milk, rice milk, and regular milk), but I noticed.
- I was looking for some Hunt's tomato sauce (a ConAgra brand), and while Hunt's was represented, there were only two kinds (original and no salt added). The overall selection leaned heavily toward the Great Value brand, which is fine unless you are searching for a specific kind of sauce.
- The frozen produce section of a Walmart Supercenter typically extends at least 2/3 of an aisle and displays several brands and varieties of frozen produce. At the Walmart Express, the display was significantly smaller, and the options were running low as well. Now, I wonder if the demand for products is overwhelming the supply Walmart expected at this particular store. It could be that they will address this soon and make sure the shelves stay stocked. Who knows.
- On a positive note for the Walmart Express, they carried several gluten-free products such as pasta and cake mixes, which was fairly impressive considering the size of the store. They also carried a large selection of tomato sauces, soups, frozen dinners, breads, and candy. So people who would consider doing their weekly grocery shopping at a Walmart Express probably would not be disappointed by the selection.
|The Walmart Express Pharmacy|
Walmart Express has a lead here, not because of the range of conveniences (you won't find a Tire & Lube Express, Vision Express, or Subway/McDonald's restaurant inside), but because of the way Walmart has thought through the needs of convenience shoppers. You will find:
- a "Site to Store" option, which means you can order items online at Walmart.com and have them shipped to the Walmart Express (or any other participating location);
- a full-service pharmacy;
- aisles with towels, bedspreads, pillows, trash cans, and other home items that Walmart Neighborhood Markets and other grocery stores don't carry;
- a Redbox in front of the store for movie rentals, as well as movies for sale inside the store;
- a check-cashing station at the front of the store;
- and a "convenience food" display right inside the front door with packaged, ready-to-go sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and sides.
If the Walmart Express wasn't so far away (it was a 45-minute drive from my house), I would shop there all the time. It's quick, convenient, and supplies most of what I need throughout the week. So what did I buy there today? A Slim Jim snack pack and two boxes of Crunch 'n Munch Buttery Toffee with Peanuts Popcorn, both from ConAgra, as well as bread, garlic, and a Vitamin Water for the trip back home.
Please note: though I was compensated for this trip, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.