Magazine article Insight on the News

Park, Shop ... and Snooze

Magazine article Insight on the News

Park, Shop ... and Snooze

Article excerpt

Drowsy drivers are descending on Wal-Mart parking lots, counting on the retailer's hospitality for a free night's sleep. Wal-Mart is counting on increased sales.

Wal-Mart parking lots have become overnight pit stops for road warriors, from big-rig truck drivers to cross-country vacationers. These highway cruisers are flocking to the oversized, well-lit and free lots to get some shuteye, a cup of coffee and a supply of toilet paper before moving on.

There's no written rule allowing drivers to camp out, and the discount retailer certainly doesn't advertise the amenity, but word has spread. "Travelers just know," says Luke Zupicich, assistant store manager at the Wal-Mart on Richmond Highway outside Washington.

In fact, Wal-Mart sells a special version of the Rand McNally road arias that locates all of its 2,435 stores nationwide. Many owners of recreational vehicles, or RVs, use the atlas as a guide when planning their itineraries, knowing they will be able to buy necessities at Wal-Mart, including tire covers and chemicals for RV toilets.

"The majority of the campers shop in our stores," says Laura Pope, spokeswoman at the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. "It's an extension of our customer service." Out of common courtesy, campers usually ask Wal-Mart personnel if they can park their rigs for the night.

While the land rovers usually park just one night, sometimes they may stay 24 to 48 hours, said Zupicich, whose parking lot gets more tractor-trailer drivers than RV owners. …

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