The truth about the largest Walmart in America

The first word that might come to mind when you think of Walmart is "big." The world's largest retailer in terms of sales (via the National Retail Federation), Walmart operates 11,500 stores in 27 countries, including 5,352 in the U.S., according to the company's website. Each individual store is big, too. Most of the U.S. stores are Supercenters, which average 187,000 square feet. Sam's Club, Walmart's members-only warehouse store, is much smaller.

Where is the biggest of the big — the largest Walmart in America, if not the world? In the early 2000s, Walmart operated a Supercenter and a Sam's Club in the same space, one on top of the other, at the Crossgates Commons shopping center in Albany, New York. In 2008, two years after the Sam's Club closed, Walmart combined the two spaces into a single, two-story store. This super Supercenter weighs in at 259,650 square feet. If you prefer the type of numbers you can count on your two hands, then that would be six acres — very big, now matter how you slice it. In fact, the Albany Supercenter has the distinction of being America's biggest Walmart (via the Albany Business Review).

The first floor of the biggest Walmart is devoted to groceries

YouTube offers a few video tours of the Albany Supercenter. The store resembles any of America's Walmarts, only more spacious. Customers aren't dodging oncoming carts as often. When the store opened, the Albany Business Review reported it would have a larger grocery selection than a regular Supercenter. YouTuber Antonio Maldonado, a former Walmart employee, toured the store and thought it offered pretty much the same groceries as other Walmarts, just more of them.

In most Supercenters, the groceries are tucked into one side of the store, taking up roughly a quarter of the total space. In the biggest Walmart in America, the first floor looks like a massive grocery store-drug store combination. You'll find school and office supplies, makeup, and books on the first floor. The electronics, clothing, and other department-store items are on the top floor. Maldonado, who sounds like someone who enjoys a lot of shopping, said he had never seen a Dunkin' (formerly Dunkin' Donuts) in a Walmart before, but there it was, on the first floor of the Albany Supercenter. The store's main attraction is something even avid shoppers may have never seen before — an escalator for your shopping cart.

How popular is the country's biggest Walmart? Not surprisingly, it is the No. 1 destination for Uber clients in Albany, according to Uber data reported in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The largest Walmart in America may not be the largest in the world

Walmart entered China in 1996 and has grown to 436 stores there, according to the Walmart website. The stores in China are big, too. Very big. A Walmart spokesman indicated as much, telling the Albany Business Review the company's biggest stores happen to be in China.

Walmart's biggest store type in China is the Sam's Club, which averages about 230,000 square feet — quite a bit bigger than the 187,000-square-foot U.S. Supercenter. With these numbers as averages, it's possible China's biggest Sam's Club takes up more space than the Albany store. But nowhere on the company's China website does the country brag about having the world's biggest Walmart. 

The site of the world's largest Walmart may still be a mystery, but we did find this: One of Walmart's retail locations in China is bigger by far than any of its stores. Walmart built an almost 1.2 million-square-foot (110,000-square-meter) shopping center in China that opened in 2016, as reported by IGD Retail Analysis. That's more than four times bigger than the Albany Supercenter. OK, technically this isn't a Walmart store, so it shouldn't count. A Sam's Club does anchor the mall, which has 68 other shops and restaurants. On the other hand, Walmart does deserve full credit for every square foot. The world's biggest retailer designed, built, and manages the entire mall.