It was about 18 months ago when Wal-Mart first talked of plans to cater some of its stores to specific demographic groups. The six major areas it talked about at the time included African-Americans, Latinos, affluent shoppers, empty-nesters, suburbanites and rural residents.
Outside Detroit, one of the largest enclaves of Arab-Americans in the U.S., Wal-Mart is now devoting store space to serve that ethnic group as well.
Faten Saad knew she wasn't in a typical Wal-Mart when she saw an end-of-the-aisle display featuring Mamool.
Boxes of the date-filled, whole wheat cookie from the Middle East welcomed the 21-year-old Lebanon native into the international aisle of the new Wal-Mart store in this Detroit suburb known as the capital of Arab America. Aisle 3, which also features Eastern European and Hispanic food, represents many of the 550 items geared toward Arab-American shoppers in the store that opened last week.
It might be statistically tiny in a store with more than 150,000 items, but it's symbolically huge for the world's largest retailer as it seeks to change from a cost-is-everything monolith to one that customizes its stores to meet neighborhood needs.