The retail giant plans locations in West Linn, Lake Oswego
by: Vern Uyetake Wal-Mart is headed to the former Bales Marketplace at 19133 Willamette Drive in West Linn in addition to a former Wild Oats store in Lake Oswego.

Wal-Mart is coming to Lake Oswego and West Linn.

Tiffany Moffatt, spokeswoman for the retail giant, confirmed Tuesday morning the company will pursue remodeling former grocery stores in the two cities.

'We're thrilled to announce that Walmart plans to pursue remodeling a former Wild Oats grocery store on Boones Ferry Road in Lake Oswego and a former (Bales Marketplace) on Highway 43 in West Linn,' Moffatt said. 'We're always looking for ways to make access to our brand more convenient for our local customers. We think Walmart stores in Lake Oswego and West Linn can be part of the solution when it comes to creating jobs and improving access to affordable groceries.'

Moffatt didn't give a timeline for opening the new stores, but she said the company 'looks forward to engaging with residents and stakeholders in both communities to listen, answer questions and share information about the company and our Walmart Market format.'

These new shops wouldn't necessarily be the traditional big-box stores most people picture when they think of Wal-Mart, the world's biggest corporation. Instead, they would likely be maybe a quarter of the size or smaller than the company's supercenters.

Wal-Mart's 'market' stores are typically about 42,000 square feet and offer groceries, pharmacies, paper goods, health and beauty sections and pet and household supplies - a similar range of products to what is available at most Fred Meyer stores.

They're bigger than Wal-Mart 'express' stores, the company's convenience option, but they're dwarfed by the more traditional supercenter. The nearly 3,000 Wal-Mart 'supercenters' nationwide average 185,000 square feet, according to the company's website.

Recent news reports have spread rumors that Wal-Mart - also known as Walmart since 2008, when a new logo came into play - is planning to open as many as 17 new stores throughout the Portland area.

In West Linn, the new shop is slated for at 19133 Willamette Drive in the Robinwood Shopping Center. In Lake Oswego a store is planned at 17711 Jean Way, off Boones Ferry Road in Lake Grove. Both buildings have sat vacant for years.

As of early this week, neither city had received official word that Wal-Mart is coming to town.

'We've just heard the rumors,' Lake Owego Senior Planner Leslie Hamilton said.

'We still have not had anybody from Wal-Mart down here talking about anything as of yet,' said Chris Kerr, a senior planner for the city of West Linn.

Because the company doesn't appear to be proposing a whole new store, it's unclear what sorts of permits might be required, if any.

Kerr recently said he anticipates the company will request a pre-application conference with city officials to find out whether it needs any permits, and if so, what kind.

When the newspaper first reported on rumors about Wal-Mart's plans, citizen reaction varied. Some voiced strong opposition to the possible clientele coming to town to buy cheap products, while others were worried about traffic associated with Wal-Mart's traditional, bigger stores.

Others took issue with the company's ethics and business practices.

But some felt the market-size stores might be OK, especially given they'll take the place of vacant, one-time grocery operations.

A few people spoke up for filling the voids left in those vacant business spaces, and some spoke in favor of capitalism and free enterprise.

One person lamented that the new Robinwood Shopping Center tenant isn't a Target.

For her part, West Linn resident Gladys Lein said she was excited about Wal-Mart's plans for her city, because she and her husband often drive 20 miles away to buy specific items from the company.

'There are some products that only Wal-Mart carries that I like a lot,' she said.

Past stories about Wal-Mart's plans:

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