A Walmart Grows in D.C.

The world's largest retailer has a few untapped markets in the U.S. A teeny tiny few. One of them is the nation's capital. But D.C. discount shoppers, take heart.

Yes, you can drive from Manassas to Mount Airy and hit two dozen different Walmarts just 30 miles from the District. But right now, if you don't live in the suburbs and drive a very big SUV, it's easy to ignore them.

A little history from the heartland to give you an idea of what could be.

When my family lived in the Mid-South-West (you know, the place between New York and L.A. that the Simpsons' neighbor, Ned Flanders, calls America), we had mega-retailer shopping options: a Neighborhood Market Walmart, a Walmart Super Center, and a run-of-the-mill Walmart. Three Walmart stores within three miles of our home. Three of them. On the same street. And 20 of them within 15 miles of our zip code. Twenty.

Want a new air conditioner under 200 bucks? Walmart. Want that hard-to-find Halloween costume? Walmart. Want monogrammed baby blankets an hour after they're born? Yes, that place.

Even if we didn't want to shop there, we had to. Walmart had everything. Walmart was cheap. And we'd have to deliberately drive past three of them just to find a Target or, gasp, a locally-owned hardware or convenience store.

Now Washingtonians may have the chance to super-size their shopping options. According to the Washington Post, the Bentonville, Ark., business could be coming to a Northeast neighborhood near you this fall -- somewhere on New York Avenue.

This expansion, however, does not appear to be shovel-ready.

"Walmart does not have any new projects to announce in the [the District], but we continue to evaluate opportunities that would allow us to create jobs and provide affordable groceries to D.C. residents," according to a company spokesman quoted in the paper.

Walmart sold more than $200 billion in air conditioners, costumes, blankets and other items last year. FastCompany.com puts those sales numbers in perspective: "It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year." It employs more than one million people. It is the largest company ... in the world.

 And you don't maintain world domination by steering clear of nearly 599,657 potential shoppers.

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