Walmart Update

walmart1We reported a few weeks ago that Walmart will be reopening a Supercenter at the corner of 441 and Palmetto. We stopped by today to see if there’s any progress. We didn’t see much. Above you can see porta-potties and containers, but we think those were there when we wrote our first story.
We do think we see a little more signs of activity in the parking lot, as shown in the two images below. But we don’t think they’re in full gear just yet.
We tried e-mailing and calling the contractor but they did not respond to our inquiries. When we find out more we will let our readers know. And of course, if anyone hears anything, please let us know.

Walmart Returning to Palmetto & 441?

UPDATE: We spoke with reliable sources who say the West Boca Walmart will reopen this summer.

Several times in conversation people have mentioned the old West Boca Walmart to us. For those who don’t know, there used to be a Walmart on the southeast corner of US-441 and West Palmetto Park Road. You can see the location on the satellite image below, with our annotations.
As you can see, it’s across from the Lowe’s and Walgreens, to the south, and “kitty corner” to the Chili’s.
Yesterday a reader said she noticed a construction trailer there. So we did a little research. We can’t confirm this, but a new Walmart Supercenter may open in this location in 2014. For now our only source for this is a brief mention in a Sun Sentinel article in June.

West of Boca Raton, a Walmart on Palmetto Park Road at U.S. 441 closed five years ago when a new supercenter opened a few miles away at Hillsboro Boulevard and 441. But the west Boca store will reopen next year as a supercenter.

We’ve searched quite a bit for other information. One friend told us he heard a rumor that the property is owned by the Rooney family who are going to turn it into a poker room. We checked the property appraiser record and the property owner is none other than “WAL MART STORES EAST LP”. They’ve owned it since 1992.
The property is appraised at $6.3M, and pays over $100K a year in property tax. So Walmart is spending a lot of money to hold onto that land. Also, any change of use would require zoning approval, and the powers that be in West Boca have been vocally critical of casino expansion in Coconut Creek, so it’s hard to imagine them liking a poker room here.
As we look at the property, it just doesn’t seem big enough for what we think of as a “Supercenter.” But we might be wrong about that. An article from The News back when it was built described it as being 136,000 square feet (reduced from what had been proposed as 145,000 square feet.
The Wikipedia entry on Walmart Supercenters says they can be as small as 98,000 square feet, with an average of 197,000 square feet. So this would be small by Supercenter standards, but not the smallest.
We visited the property this morning. On the Palmetto side there is an entrance, closed when we were there, with signs out front.

On the larger sign are documents. A couple indicate application for a storm water discharge permit for construction work. A letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is dated November 26th and states that the permit is effective on the 29th.

A “construction site notice” indicates a 122,353 square foot building and a “Supercenter – expansion” for “Store #3858-00”.

Here’s the best photo we could get of what’s behind the fence. It doesn’t look like they’ve done much yet.


Consumer Alert: Spalding Basketball System – 88461G 60"

We had a bad shopping experience with a Spalding Basketball System 88461G from Walmart, 60″ in-ground unit. This story does have a happy ending but it was a bumpy ride.
Shopping around, we got a great deal. It was just under $400. Looking just now they’re selling it for about $25 more. But comparable in-ground basketball systems were hundreds more. And shopping at sporting goods stores, they were quoting an additional $350 to install them.
So I ordered this using Walmart’s Site to Store service. Instead of paying $50 for shipping it to my house, I was able to pick it up at the store with free shipping. We go to Walmart often enough that this made sense.
The Site-to-Store experience was typical Walmart. I waited five minutes for someone to show up at the counter. Then it took another five minutes for them to bring the item out for me. Fortunately no one else was waiting for service at the time. The box looked like it had been abused. There were multiple holes. I took pictures in case I needed evidence.
I asked the Walmart staff for assistance getting it to my car and I think she tried to find someone but whoever it was didn’t get out in time to be helpful. This is a heavy item but I did get it into my car okay. Please note that this is a large item and will not fit in most cars. It did fit easily in my SUV.
I then found a contractor to install it for about $200 (using a neat website, Everything went fine with this part of the process. The instructions seemed easy and we got it all done in about three hours. I spent a little extra for fast-drying concrete (we used eleven 50-pound bags at about $5/bag from Lowe’s). We did not test out the hoop yet because we were making sure the concrete set well. I left net off because I didn’t want anyone to use it but left the hoop low (7 feet) so it would be easy for me to put the net on the next day.
I should have known better. We have teenage boys in the neighborhood. One of them decided to try out the hoop. We don’t know exactly what he did, but here’s the result:
spider web fractures throughout backboard
Some people would be mad at the kid, but he really did us a favor. He weighs about 100 pounds. If he hadn’t done this, I’d have done it the next day and I weigh 200 pounds. That would have been a lot worse.
He shouldn’t have used the hoop without my permission, and I would have said no that day because of the concrete. But it’s still not his fault (and he’s really a good kid). The problem was with the Spalding system.
We didn’t know why it failed right away but we do now. I called Spalding’s customer service number on the instruction booklet. On their request I e-mailed them a photo of the backboard and a copy of the receipt (forwarding the Walmart transaction e-mail). And they shipped us a new backboard.
During the exchange of e-mails came this from the customer service rep:

Make sure the foam pad and four metal spacers are pre-attached to the backboard before assembly.

Foam pad? Metal spacers? I don’t remember that when we installed it. It is not mentioned in the instructions. Here’s the spot where the rim assembly attaches to the backboard, front and back:
foam pad between
where rim attaches
In the first of those two pictures you can see a black foam pad between the rim assembly and the backboard. But from this picture, and even from looking in person if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can’t really tell if there are spacers in there.
So the new backboard comes and my contractor comes back (no charge and he was doing a couple other projects for us). As we took out the new backboard we found this little guy rolling around in the box:

Looking under the foam pad, the new backboard had two spacers in place (in the top spots) but the bottom spots were empty. One of the spacers was the one rolling around and the fourth was missing.
Taking the shattered backboard down was a significant effort and some of the glass fell on us as we did it, leaving shards of it on the driveway. We did put a tarp down and caught most of it. I looked around and picked up anything I could find that missed, but one bit got into the flesh of the bottom of my foot. Barefoot in sandals may not have been the best choice for this project.
There were two spacers in the top spots on the shattered board. The bottom two were missing, which is probably what caused the backboard to shatter. We used one of those spacers to fill the last spot on the new board and installed it again. It is now up and seems stable. I haven’t dunked on it yet and I put it up at 10 feet so that shouldn’t be a problem for a while.
Despite all the troubles, I am happy with this purchase. Now that it’s installed it seems to be a very good quality system for the money. I’ve seen the exact same item for $700, and other 60″ systems for as much as $1500. It’s very easy to lower the hoop. Raising it is more of an effort due to the weight but it’s not bad.
I’m disappointed, however, in Walmart and Spalding. From that e-mail, they obviously know this is a problem. It was even a problem with the replacement board they sent. Someone could get hurt, and they should do more to make sure anyone who bought the 88461G is warned. I’d recommend anyone buying a Spalding Basketball System from any store, or any hoop from Walmart, check out this specific detail before you begin the installation.