Before Wal-Mart giant awakens

As anyone who’s picked up a newspaper recently or driven along
Pacheco Pass surely knows by now, Super Wal-Mart is on the way to
Gilroy. The retailing giant is scheduled to open its
220,000-square-foot Supercenter in September.
As anyone who’s picked up a newspaper recently or driven along Pacheco Pass surely knows by now, Super Wal-Mart is on the way to Gilroy. The retailing giant is scheduled to open its 220,000-square-foot Supercenter in September. In addition to the traditional Wal-Mart offerings of clothes, toys, electronics, gardening supplies and more, Super Wal-Mart will sell groceries. Although Nob Hill Foods denies that its latest move is related to the upcoming new competition for grocery dollars, it’s worth noting that the grocery chain has recently begun touting lower everyday prices on the items it carries.

When the City of Gilroy approved the new Super Wal-Mart in early 2004, it placed 42 conditions on the approval. One, that the retailer pay for classes to help local businesses compete, comes to fruition this summer. The Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation are offering classes in so-called guerrilla marketing. They are free to local businesses.

The three-hour classes will be taught by San Jose State University advertising and marketing professor Tim Hendrick. Here’s how he defines guerrilla marketing: “Guerrilla marketing is the new terminology for making yourself

well-known,” Hendrick told reporter Serdar Tumgoren. It’s “… really getting people to talk about your service.”

We suggest that the best way for local businesses to separate themselves from Wal-Mart is by offering the best customer service available in South Valley in concert with a viable marketing plan. Local business owners who know their customers’ names, who provide them with friendly, efficient service, and who offer unique items unavailable at mass merchandisers should do well despite the arrival of a bigger, “better” Wal-Mart store.

Requiring Wal-Mart to teach local businesses how to compete is an unusual condition for approval, that’s a given. Now it’s up to local businesses to take advantage of this opportunity to learn some new marketing tips, and to increase the quality of their products and customer service.

We’re confident that any local business that does so will do well against Wal-Mart, or any other competitor.

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