DOWNEY - As part of a plan to both stifle competition and expand its brand presence to new urban communities and small towns alike, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which operates more than 4,000 retail locations in the United States alone, is preparing to open a new, smaller-format Wal-Mart store in Downey.According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. purchased the nearly 32,000-square-foot building now occupied by Alin's Party Depot last month. County records show that the previous owner, Westminster Properties, sold the property, located at 12270 Paramount Blvd, on Nov. 10. A Downey fixture since 1985, Alin's Party Depot announced in November that it would shut down early next year, unable to renew its lease with Westminster Properties. Officials at Alin's Party Depot say the store will complete liquidation in early January. Last month, a representative of Westminster Properties told The Downey Patriot that a large, recognizable establishment had acquired the property, but would not reveal the buyer. Two months ago, Wal-Mart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon unveiled the company's new strategy for the coming year, indicating the retail giant would focus on the coveted urban and suburban markets by opening smaller, more efficient Wal-Mart locations across the country. "We are very excited about the additional growth opportunities that we have in the United States," said Simon in a statement on Oct. 13. "Over the next few years, we will introduce new formats to help us enter new markets. Wal-Mart U.S. will move toward a three-format portfolio, which will drive expansion to urban markets and small towns, as well as fill in gaps in existing markets." In addition to Wal-Mart's large supercenters, Simon said the company would seek to open medium formats between 30,000 and 60,000 square feet as well as smaller stores, which will total less than 30,000 square feet, targeted towards urban markets and small towns. Wal-Mart, known for its large discount supercenters and Sam's Club locations, also operates almost 200 Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market stores, which offer customers fresh food, pharmacy, beauty, stationary and pet supplies inside a 42,000-square-foot location. In 2008, Wal-Mart also began testing smaller grocery stores called Marketside, which average 15,000 square feet in size. The format focuses mainly on fresh food. The Downey Patriot reached out to Wal-Mart, but has yet to receive a comment on the new store placement.