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We love big in America, but look who’s bucking the trend

In the United States, we love big. We have the world’s biggest economy, the world’s biggest cars and trucks and the world’s biggest military. We love big, live big, incentivize big. It’s much cheaper to buy a biggie drink and biggie fries with your cheeseburger than reasonable, and smaller, volumes of either.

In some places, bigger is even better than winning.

Take Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who built Cowboy Stadium, in Arlington, Texas, the biggest indoor stadium in the world. It’s home to the world’s biggest high definition television screen – 72-feet tall and 160-feet wide. Unfortunately, the Cowboys football team hasn’t made enough big plays to win many games in it.

There are big things outside of Texas too.

There’s the mega-big Nissan automobile plant in Canton, Miss., which is almost as impressive as Cowboy Stadium. On a recent trip down I-55, I put the odometer on it. It’s almost one mile long, and it took me one minute to drive from one end to the other.

The $1.4 billion plant employs about 3,300 people and boasts its own water tower, an expressway exit, a medical facility and a bank for employees. The factory spits out a new vehicle every minute, including the big Nissan Titan.

America also boasts a chain of the world’s biggest retail store – Wal-Mart. Each store contains about 100,000 square feet of merchandise. There are 2,700 locations of an even bigger Wal-Mart, the Wal-Mart Supercenter, averaging about 185,000 square feet each.

However, Wal-Mart may be about to buck the bigger-is-better business model. After years of pushing the envelope with Opryland-sized Supercenters, Wal-Mart is now planning to open smaller stores throughout the United States in an attempt to reverse sagging sales.

According to the article, these smaller stores will look like neighborhood markets that feature fresh foods, and will range from 25,000 to 70,000 square feet.

 “We are going to be adding hundreds of these in the coming years and maybe even more depending on how they work out,” said Bill Simon, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations.

The concept of small neighborhood stores is reminiscent of the mom and pop operations that dotted the rural U.S. landscape in the first part of the 20th century – family-owned operations that were eventually run out of business by the big chains, including, ironically, Wal-Mart.

Funny, how trends nearly always come full circle.

As for me, I’m glad Wal-Mart may be getting smaller instead of upsizing. The idea of a bigger Super Dooper Wal-Mart coming to 20,000 acres near me would have definitely been the last straw.


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