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Wal-Mart's Small Mart

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a good look at a new Wal-Mart test store--a former 220,000-square-foot location that's now 93,000 square feet smaller and features a more open layout.

Like no other Walmart in the world, the smaller store has a new color scheme, wider aisles, lower shelving, "green" lighting, unobstructed views and a renovated pharmacy and restrooms.

Shrinking the store by 40 percent and making it easier to navigate weren't the only changes. The store, which opened in May 2006, has also been re-branded - subtly. Gone are the hyphen and old-style star on the store sign between the "Wal" and "Mart.''

The staid blue-on-boring-beige color scheme? Gone. Instead, the store features a bright harvest gold with two tones of blue.

The place just doesn't look or feel like a Walmart, and that's by design, said Mike Ellison, market manager for the retailer and the man responsible for operations at this and 10 other stores in the region.

"Sam Walton always said 20 percent of the products do 80 percent of the business," Ellison said. "We have a very focused and calibrated store. We listened to our customers, listened to their feedback. We wanted to understand what their needs were and wanted an environment that was more intimate and created a convenient shopping experience."

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