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Cottage Grove retailers mixed on effect of new Walmart Supercenter

Top Ten Wine & Spirits Store Manager Alicia Kysylyczyn completes a sale last week at the East Point Douglas Road store. Owner Bruce Knowlan said his store, located less than a mile from the new Walmart Supercenter, will likely see an impact. Other local businesses don’t envision Walmart as a direct competitor. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)

Super competitor or just another business.

When the new Walmart Supercenter in Cottage Grove opens its doors Wednesday, March 12, shoppers will be able to buy cellphones, groceries, prescriptions, gardening implements, and liquor, among many other things.

Local businesses that already sell many of those items have different ideas on how the biggest retail development in Cottage Grove history will affect their sales.

Jason Sachs, manager of Wireless World in Cottage Grove, said the cellphones sold at Walmart will be competition for his store. But he said they’ve weathered such challenges before.

“Obviously, we knew it was coming for a while so we’ve kind of been preparing for it,” Sachs said. “A lot of our stores have Walmarts next to them or they’re in the same parking lot. It’s something that we’ve dealt with in the past.”

Wireless World is just down East Point Douglas Road from the Walmart Supercenter. Sachs said he’s confident they can go toe-to-toe with Walmart’s heavily-promoted price-matching policy. “As a company we’re really good at price-matching,” he said.

“For us it’ll bring a lot more drive-by traffic to my store,” Sachs added.” “That’s the part we’re kind of excited about.”

Bruce Knowlan owns Top Ten Wine & Spirits in Cottage Grove. He said it’s too early to say whether his clientele will begin buying their beer or wine from Walmart.

“It’ll definitely impact our business,” Knowlan said. “But we’re fighters. We have a Top Ten Spirits in Woodbury with a Sam’s Club next to us. We’ve been fighting them since they opened up 12, 13 years ago so it’s nothing new to us.”

Top Ten has monthly promotions, including one that discounts all beers made in Minnesota.

“We match them in some areas,” Knowlan said. “We have our specials, they have theirs.”

While price obviously is important, our personalized customer service keeps people coming back, he said.

“We’re locally owned and operated and a lot of people like it that way.”

Specialty pet food store Chuck and Don's, located less than one mile from the new Walmart, said the added traffic in the area could help boost their visibility. 

"Traffic patterns will definitely increase with the opening of Walmart which will give us the opportunity to increase the awareness of our location," said Store Manager Nicole Doherty. 

Local meat shops don’t expect Walmart to butcher their sales.

Andy Smith, owner of Von Hanson’s Meats in Cottage Grove said Walmart isn’t a direct competitor.

“I don’t think it’ll affect us at all,” Smith said. “It’s just a totally different niche than where we’re at.”

In addition to a variety of meats and party trays, Von Hanson’s also offers game dressing. They also provide the personalized service of a traditional butcher’s shop.

“You’re not going to go into Walmart and ask them to cut you 40 steaks four ounces and wrapped in twos,” Smith said. “It’s just a totally different ball game.”

Greg Bonngard, owner of Bonngard Family Meats, echoed Smith, and said Walmart doesn’t have as large of a variety of fresh and packaged meat products.

“I don’t think it will hurt us,” Bonngard said. “I don’t carry what Walmart has.”

The specialty meat store has been in the community for the last seven years, and while Walmart will have a full deli section, Bonngard said his clientele will stay intact.

“There are so many of them around,” he said of Walmart. “The stuff I do, nobody else does. I’m not worried.”

Walmart’s most direct competitor will be Target, just down East Point Douglas Road.

Target will match Walmart advertised prices either at the register or if someone brings in their Target receipt and the Walmart ad within seven days of their purchase. Target offers the price-match program along with a REDcard debit card and the Cartwheel coupon program.

“With these programs, we do feel that Target offers the best deal in retail,” Target spokeswoman Anne Christensen said.

The 177,000-square-foot Walmart was built on the former site of the Cottage View Drive-In Theater, which closed in 2012 after 46 years.

William Loeffler, Emily Buss and Scott Wente contributed to this story.