Will new Walmart concept kill overnight RV parking?

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Late last year a YouTube video was released that caused quite a stir among some RVers. The producers sounded an alarm that plans by Walmart’s corporate planners would put the spell of doom on the future of overnight RV parking around the country. The big event that started it all was the October 2018 reveal of a new plan called “Walmart Reimagined.”

Will new Walmart concept kill overnight RV parking?
walmartreimagined.com

The idea behind the “Reimagined” project is to take some of Walmart’s stores with large parking lots and re-envision them as town centers. Some would have walking trails, restaurants and coffee shops. Some might have a movie theater, even a bowling alley. Other possibilities included taking some space inside existing Walmart stores and creating, say, a food court, to attract more business. Of course, the outside projects would be the ones that would concern RVers. Tie up parking lot spaces with green belts and boutique stores – that means less space for the passing motorhome and travel trailer set.

But just how big a deal is the new concept? Walmart’s own website that promotes the plan gives one a pretty good idea. Says a banner on the site, “Welcome to the future vision of the Walmart experience. It’s the Walmart experience you’ve come to expect and so much more. It’s Green Space, Food, Beverage & Entertainment all in one location.” Did you read the fine print? “Future vision.” From what we can see, this rollout is a trial balloon from Walmart corporate – indeed, most of the “Reimagined” website appears to be a major reach-out to potential tenants of these sites.

In all, Walmart’s planning sets just a handful of locations for possible development. Where are they? In Arkansas: Rogers. California: Long Beach. Colorado has Loveland. In Iowa: Windsor Heights. Missouri locations include Lees Summit and Springfield. Oregon would host in Gresham. Texas has three: Bryan, Garland and Temple. Finally, Washington shows two potential locations: Tumwater and Shelton. Of those suggested sites, only one is operational, Temple, Texas. And under construction? Bryan, Texas, Loveland, Colorado, and Tumwater and Shelton, Washington.

Yes, it’s possible that Walmart may find this trial balloon does more than just float – maybe the idea will take off like a rocket. Only time will tell on that. Regarding potential development Walmart told one media outlet, “The process ultimately depends on identifying the right developer, partners and communities that welcome the type of innovative development we envision.” And when we inquired about the potential of more of these developments and their potential impact to the RVing community, Walmart’s media representative responded, “The Walmart Reimagined concept is an exploratory concept. We have identified a handful of potential locations as examples of where the Walmart Reimagined concept might be possible but are still too early in the design process to discuss potential project details.”

Adding to this uncertainty, some of the locations that Walmart had planned for potential development were already in “no overnight parking” status. For example, the location in Loveland, Colorado, under construction to be a “container park,” has not allowed RV overnight parking since at least 2014. Other potential development locations are near other Walmarts that allow overnight parking. Springfield, Missouri, is an example of that. Their Campbell Avenue location is in the running for development of the “Reimagined” concept, but there are seven Super Centers in immediate metro area; of those, six allow RV overnight parking, according to the app Walmart ONP.

And comparing the number of Walmarts in the U.S. to those suggested for conversion to the new concept also helps to put things in perspective. As of last October, across the country there were 4,553 Super Centers, discount stores and Sam’s Clubs up and running. Internet resource walmartlocator.com suggests that about a quarter of Walmart locations fall into the “no overnight parking” status. Walmart’s own statement on the matter says that as a rule, RVers are more than welcome to overnight at Walmart stores, subject to individual store manager’s direction. Of those that don’t permit overnighting, it’s often not a matter of the store not allowing parking, but rather local ordinances that prohibit the practice. In other cases, the company may not own the parking lot, and the lot owners have put the kibosh on RV parking.

Still, RVers and, shall we say, “others,” who overnight on Wally’s lots can have an impact. It goes without saying that a few thoughtless folks can spoil it for the majority. Staying for more than one night in a row on a given store lot can create big image problems. Dumping trash or holding tanks is an obvious problem-creator. So don’t put out your awning, your lawn chairs, or fire up the barbee – just park, sleep, shop and go. We know that others have suggested that rolling out your slideouts should be ixnay. We take a tempered view of that – if the lot is crowded, putting out slides does, indeed, take up more space. But as some RVers know, trying to stay in the rig with the slides retracted is nearly impossible. Try and find a spot where putting out your slides won’t be an issue, say on the margin on the lot.

Being a “good neighbor” when visiting may go a long way to keeping already available spots open. Spot some trash on arrival? Pick it up! Some have even gone so far as to send a “thank you” card to local managers after overnighting, mentioning how much they appreciated being able to stay overnight, and the convenience of being able to shop during the stop. It doesn’t seem like much, but business people take notice. As to the impact on RVers by the new “Walmart Reinvisioned” program – at this point, it looks to be more of a tempest in a teapot than a real problem.

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Norman Knight

As a touring Australian (in hired motorhome) I find the Walmart discussion a little difficult to understand. We have travelled for 5 mths in two trips and only stop in cities and towns to get supplies. Most of the time cities are avoided as one city/town is the same anywhere in the world. Not so your National Parks, State Parks, BLM’s etc. Get out of the cities and Walmarts and enjoy your beautiful countryside before regulation locks the place up as has happened in Australia

Seann

a lot of their parking lots now have become so tight with islands and everything else in the entrance ways that it’s hard to get a larger travel trailer or fifth wheel in

Kat

Except for City Ordinance not allowing overnight parking, each Walmart manager decides if it allowed at their store. All it takes for the store to change their policy of allowing overnight is some idiot to dump their holding tank on the ground and the cost to the store to clean it up. Also, you will never see Walmart charging a small fee, tracking or any means of verifying. To do so would put them in a position of being responsible. Be thankful for the few that still allow an overnight and treat them with respect.

Mike

We are fulltime rv’ers. I have not and will not ever stay in a Walmart parking lot. I understand that if you have made a reservation at a park and you arrive early there may not be any other choice but most of the rv’ers we see at Walmart are the people to cheap to pay for a site at a park. We have even talked to a couple that were even to cheap to stay at a state park with their discount. They said why pay when Walmart is free. This is why alot of the Walmarts no longer… Read more »

Leanne

I tried it recently for the first time since I started RVing 11 years ago and it was a unique situation. I had parked at a casino campground with plans to stay there. I was registered and set up and after spending time in the casino and their restaurant and shopping mall I came out to my RV ready to settle in and go to sleep. Unfortunately while not the casino’s fault I could not take all the noise (5 trains ran in the area within the span of 1 hour ), helicopters flew overhead because as I learned the… Read more »

Bryan

Many Wal Marts are becoming far to dangerous to overnight in due to crime and some are being over taken by overnighting 18 wheelers. I am very careful about which one I would consider stopping in. There are maybe 6 in all of Texas that I would consider safe and most of them are in very small towns, like Halletsville or Ballinger. Most of the locations near major interstates are no place you want to be at night.

Vanessa

I shopped at the Walmart in Gresham OR (actually in an area called Wood Village) and the parking lot is full of cars every time I go there. Camping World is basically next door. There isn’t anyplace for them to expand so I don’t see how that could happen there. This is not an area where public transportation would reduce the number of drivers going there.

Donald Fredericks

Regarding Walmart killing overnights. When there is an RV related event in the area many RVers need an early day and use Walmarts. It should be remembered we are their guest and do not have an unrestricted right to park there. There is also the freeloading homeless who do not care where or about good neighbor RVing. I have seen so many jammed in that there was a major shortage of spaces for auto customers. City counsels only care about local residents first and think their regulations benefit the whole of residents. They can easily forget that RVers are stocking… Read more »

ED

There is a sign posted in a Florida Walmart stating that there is a Florida state ordinance prohibiting overnight parking in a non-campground establishment.

JB

not true. Our County (Bay) does allow it in all Wallmarts that I know of.

BEN CHRISTENBURY

last comment make since since state ordinance is an oxymoron

ShaRon E Conway

My husband and I are both 72 yrs old. We used to stay at WalMart when we were in our late 50’s but not anymore. Elderly couples are targeted too often for us to take a chance. We carry no weapons and feel safer staying in a campground for the night. So, we plan our day of travel to begin early (6 AM) leaving home or a campground and ending our travel day after about 8 or 9 hours (350 to 400 miles) max.

Steve Barnes,Kamloops, BC

WALMART PARKING Last October when the article about Walmart converting some parking to retail and barring RVs, I like many RVtravel.com readers expressed our concerns to RVT and to editor Chuck. Individual RVers thanking individual store managers when there are 4 or 5 thousand North American stores and 100,000 or so of us just does not cut it. Perhaps we should approach the 5000 stores through their one representatives(sic), head offices in Mississauga, Ontario and Bentoville, Arkansas. We need to be united through our own one representative. RVT has said it is expanding its role. Perhaps it will take this… Read more »

Chuck Woodbury

Steve, a lot of food for thought here. I’d like to talk to you by phone soon. You have my email address, please let me know when you are available. Heck, wish I could just come visit you in Kamloops! Love the country up there.

Chuck

Leonard Zuzchik

Chuck, I have been following you for years, and have at times felt helpless om RV parking, since after parking my RV in my driveway for 14 years in Fort Lauderdale, told to move it and if not a $500 daily fine. Seeing this possibly happening to Walmart parking lots, and seeing Steve Barnes post, on needing a rep for the masses, I want to know if there is any way that I can be of assistance since I am now a full-timer and retired, currently in Las Vegas.

Jim

People who use Walmart should be good, but so many have no respect, leave crap behind, stay long periods of time, and many are starting to unhook and put out slides. This wrong and is going to ruin it for people who do follow the rules. Just saying……….

John

Even without the changes to Walmart’s intentions, you can’t park at a lot of Walmart stores any more because the city’s are passing laws against parking overnight any where in the city. How can we keep the government from controlling everything in our lives?

Roy

How ?? By attending every city council and county supervisor meeting. It is these meetings where issues like this are brought up, put on schedules for discussion and public comment … then for voting by the agency involved. So few people ever show up for public meetings … and then complain about government controls. Even when bond issues and tax issues are on voting ballots, not enough people ever show up to vote.

Roy

In most cases, WalMart could not charge for ‘camping’ or renting ‘spaces’ without obtaining whatever ‘campground’ or ‘RV use’ permits are required in their area. WalMart and casinos are the favorite target of campground owners who go to the city/county officials to complain about losing business to ‘free parking’ sites … and it works. Other comments about WalMart not owning the parking lot property is also correct. Implied insurance liability is also a concern. The huge growth of ‘homeless type’ RV encampments is another issue that has become a plague to temporary parking for a quick rest. As the RV… Read more »

rvgrandma

Our local Walmart use to always have an RV or two parked there. Some were overnight, some a couple days. Then they tore the USA gas station out and that parking lot was used. Was good because there was no way to interfere with traffic because 3 sides were blocked. Then, people in old beat up RVs and van started to stop by. They set up tents at one time looking like a small tent city! Trash everywhere even when they left including blowing across the parking lot. RVers moved to the parking lot to separate from themselves. Now the… Read more »

Neil Glenn

When I’m travelling, I DO generally stop at Walmarts enroute to stay ONE night, on my journey. I ask the manager for permission, do not extend rooms, etc, and generally buy $100 or so worth of groceries to replenish. Why? Because these Walmarts are on my route, and are a less noisy stop than truck-stops, for one. And, Walmarts have patrols, keeping shoppers safe!! I would hate to see this relationship end! However, there ARE other supermarts who would LOVE to take my money, remember!

Bryan

No offense, but where do Wal Marts still have security? It was one of the first things they cut around here . Most do not even have enough employees to properly stock the store and rely on security cameras for outside, that are not monitored by the way.

Mark Gaunt

Walmart doesn’t’ owe RV’ers free overnight parking. I don’t shop there let alone park there.

John

Look for free parking to disappear. Too, there are too many contingent liabilities to ignore the ramifications. Someone who is a flake will no doubt sue WM and that will be the end of that. Freeloaders are, all too often, not so well behaved.

Donna Gibson

Stayed at various Walmart parking lots always asked the manager for permission to stay the night. Always purchased food and supplies there. Never had a problem most have a designated area for RV’s. Sometimes we were the only RV in the parking lot.

Cary Nickel

Honestly, I’ve spend exactly one RV night in a WalMart parking lot. And though the security staff obviously meant well, they drove around the RV on their “rounds” incessantly with their yellow cab-top light flashing and engine running..waking us us up on a regular schedule. Now that I think of it, it might have been meant to subtly, but perhaps rather impolitely, state “It would be better if you leave.” Either way, I have never stayed in a WalMart parking lot again, and have no plans to in the future. I’d rather dry-camp in the boonies. If their vision comes… Read more »

Greg

One of the paybacks to Walmart for me staying in their parking lot is, I always stroll through the parking lot and pick up litter. This deed along with buying whatever I need in their store helps them as a business and me for the convenience of having a place to stay for the night and picking up supplies at the same location.

Ann

People who shop Walmart will always need acres of parking, so I see this as being pretty much a side issue for RVers. Honestly, most Walmarts are a blight on wherever they are, so this sounds like it might be an improvement for the local areas they’re going into.

Doug

Judging by their info page, this is Walmart trying to do an Unsinkable Molly Brown; common backwoods folk trying get all high falutin’ and citified. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig,

Doug

New Walmart SuperCenter in Hope Mills, NC is similar to this already: Walmart the base of the “L”, the ascender is a row of stores and restaurant, with the serif at the top being a Murphy Gas Station.
Surprising that one of the stores is a Dollar Tree. Even Christmas the farthest corner of lot was empty.

BUT….. the lot and access roads are so arranged that big rigs would have trouble navigating due to the many divider islands, narrow entrance ways, and sharp turns including a small roundabout by the gas station.

T. Oney

Most Walmarts I see are core stores with a pretty consistent set of strip type stores flanking the store and main lot. Many of the stores have wide agreements with WM. Stores like Cato, Dollar Tree and others that are chains frequently owned by former or current WM execs. There are generally also a mix of local restaurants and smaller stores. Frankly I don’t see a big surge is expanded malls with some bucolic small time feel with parks etc. someone is just thinking outside the box, and being allowed to shake out an idea.

Jeff

I find this concept interesting. Walmart will cut our employees hours so they can pay for there new concept.

Ray

Well if they are smart they will incorporate the Cracker Barrel parking concept, add a RV parking section. I would have no problem even paying a couple of bucks for a overnight permit that you affix to your windshield this would discourage the folks that insist at overstaying their welcome.

Sarah

Ray, I was thinking exactly what you are suggesting (well maybe less the paying concept, perhaps proof of minimum $10 purchase of merchandise that is non-returnable) and considering sending the Walmart planning folks that suggestion.

Merrily

Just tape your receipt to the window to your rig as proof your “paid” your overnight fee!

Steve

The issue at many Walmart’s is not the RV’s parking – it’s the “other” business that seems to be conducted and sometimes it’s in the RV’s. The other issue is uncaring campers. Since when is an “over-night” stop equal to 3 or 4 nights. Walmart was a stop-over on the way, not a destination. If we stop, we only extend the bedroom slide and I always park where the slide will not interfere with anyone or anything. And we are gone early and leave no mark. Not all can say that. This was a great way to do a quick… Read more »

Al & Sharon

Thanks for the article and helping to put this “new and improved WM” into perspective. I really don’t see the doom and gloom mentality that seems to come with the headlines for these articles. There are at least a thousand, or thousands of WM’s in smaller towns or just in parts of a city that just don’t lend themselves to all this fancy stuff. To draw a clientele to make use of these new amenities the store will have to be in a somewhat upscale neighborhood. We O/N in WM when we are traveling across country and use it as… Read more »

Contractcarrier

Thanks for the article about Walmart. Respect for the free parking is very important like the article said, abuse could end parking very fast. How about All RV’ers take time and email/write Walmart and tell them (Thanks) for letting us stay on their property.

Jeannie Crewson

Loss of RV staying privileges is far more likely to be due to inconsiderate morons who abuse the privilege by littering, taking up too much space, and overstaying than from Wally World’s Reimagined project.

Tommy Molnar

Totally agree, Jeannie!

Sue

What Jeannie said . . .
I also like the idea of saying thank you in writing to WM stores that allow us to stay on their lot overnight. We always shop inside and usually say thank you at the service desk, but putting it in writing will probably have a more visible impact.

G.M. Amthor

here is a clue… if walmart wants to increase it value.. instead of going away from rv’s … try going a new way… why not set up sites in the parking lot as… pay for parking overnight… i.e set aside a area for overnight glamping… allow them to have hookups.. dump stations…and reservations etc… first.. it would then make a whole lot of new places to overnight… for a minor fee from dry camping, glamping and dump……and second … it would get rid of the rift raft homeless people who make a nice place into a trash dump and harrass… Read more »

Dave

Your point is well made with Wally getting into the RV biz. Unfortunately, as Chuck has pointed out, a lot of the “No Parking Issue”, has come from Walmart having to abide by no parking local ordinance issues.

William H. Prough

Walmart has changed significantly, especially over the past two years. They are no longer the friendly family store they once were. They are now a full blown corporation with their bean counter managers. Anyone that has used their Savings Catcher program has seen savings go down, down, down to very little. Which means savings ain’t what they used to be. On 29 OCT 2018, they went to a new extremely difficult savings program. I feel their intent is to do away with the savings program. Corporations are not about customer service, they are about strictly profit! I have stopped as… Read more »