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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Maroon Rollback

 
 

Corporate giant Wal-Mart is trying to stake its claim in the Aggie merchandise market.
In Bryan and College Station stores, Wal-Mart ripped out a section of the clothing department in July to make room for the Aggie shop, an idea taken from its Arlington location across from the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
“We’re trying to show how big a part of the community this store is,” said assistant store manager Steven Doucette. “I’m a former student, my zone manager is a former student and we’ve got two shift mangers who are former students. This store is thick with Aggies.”
Doucette said Wal-Mart wants to compete with local bookstores and specialty shops while focusing on football game days.
The plan is to have chilled water jugs and coolers spread throughout the store, with big screen televisions tuned to Aggie games, interviews and highlights.
The College Station Wal-Mart is the largest in Texas, and its Aggie shop selection changes from week to week as it coordinates with more than 20 vendors on a wide variety of products.
Wal-Mart’s approach was something Doucette said is a “change of mentality” as the store works to disprove the oft-held perception that it only carries generic goods.
Part of that is having A&M students work in the Aggie shop, which will have gameday ambassadors who are allowed to wear maroon instead of the typical Wal-Mart blue.
“It’s cool for me to see from the student perspective that Wal-Mart wants to be involved in the Bryan and College Station community,” said Taylor Andrus, senior and game day ambassador. “I know it means a lot to me and other students that I don’t have to go out and spend $30 on an A&M polo.”
Store manager Luis Reza said feedback has been positive so far, with several customers reaching out on Twitter and Facebook. What remains to be seen is how it will affect longtime local businesses such as Aggieland Outfitters, C.C. Creations and the MSC Bookstore.
Old Army Spirit Company owner Randall Horvath said Wal-Mart’s expansion and some of its high-end products surprised him. He maintained that local stores—some of which have been around since the ’60s—offer a more personal touch and better customer service.
“More power to Wal-Mart,” Horvath said. “I feel like we’ve tried to create an environment that supports Aggies, and Aggies should support Aggies.”
He said Wal-Mart would most likely never carry many of the brand names found in local shops and, due to the seasonal planning of large-scale retail, it would not be able to crank out merchandise related to recent happenings.
“Wal-Mart can certainly lower their prices and play their price game, but at the end of the day, I think people want to find products that are unique,” Horvath said. “We work really hard to cater to that.”

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