Destination Medical Center has many companies eagerly expanding their footprints in Rochester, though one huge retailer has decided to put on the brakes.
After years of discussion, Walmart has ended its plans for a second Rochester Sam's Club store.
For about eight years, I've asked a succession of Walmart officials about the possibility, as rumors repeatedly surfaced that a south Sam's Club complex could be built in the Shoppes on Maine area, possibly near the the 48th Street Southeast exit.
The answers from the Bentonville, Ark.-based giant always were vague, until last March, when Walmart's director of communications sent a positive response.
"We are always looking for opportunities to better serve our Rochester customers and are making plans to add a second Sam's Club to serve the growing need among area customers who want to buy wholesale merchandise in bulk at affordable prices," stated Delia Garcia by email.
However, those plans have changed between then and now. Garcia wrote another response to a request for updated information this week.
“We are constantly evaluating and refreshing our strategy to best serve our members and have decided this is not the right time to pursue a Sam’s Club in Rochester," she wrote.
Garcia could not expand on why Walmart decided to put the brakes on plans for a south Sam's store to complement its pair ofWalmart Supercenter stores on the north and south sides of the city, as well as a north Sam's Club warehouse.
The reversal does fit with a prediction from last spring by a Minnesota retail expert.
"It makes no sense at all," said David P. Brennan, a professor of marketing at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and co-director of the university's Institute for Retailing Excellence. "In regard to Rochester because of its size and relative ease of getting around, you don't need two stores to cover a market that size. It just doesn't make sense."
Sam's Club has nine stores in the Twin Cities area and each does about $65 million to $75 million in business per year, according to Brennan. Costco has six stores in the metro region. Each of its stores move an estimated $120 million to $130 million of merchandise per year.