Dearborn, Michigan's Arab-American population is getting some special attention from an unlikely place: Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's smiley-face, price-slashing reputation is definitely polarizing. But whether you love a bargain, or wave signs protesting its Goliath march through Main Street USA, its sheer size guarantees everyone has rolled back prices once or twice. It's everything to everyone.
In Dearborn, Michigan, with the largest concentration of Arabs outside of the Middle East, the big-box retailer is selling them a little bit of home. Stocking olive oil, falafel, and Egyptian mango juice, and Lebanese pop music, the store's 35 Arabic-speaking staff represents a big departure from Wal-Mart's usual one-size-fits-all approach to retail.
This store features one more important difference: an agreement with small, local businesses. To respect the existing businesses that already cater to the Arab-American population, Wal-Mart has agreed for instance, to charge a dime more for a pack of pita — and that one thin dime represents a world of change that shoppers can take to the bank.
Is a unique, neighborhood approach the wave of the retail future? Does it surprise you that Wal-Mart is in tune with the needs of the community?