Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), Target Corporation (TGT), Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Which Type of Shopping Is Better?

In the following interview, we speak with Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. Speck is an architect and city planner in Washington, D.C., oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, and served on the Sustainability Task Force of the Department of Homeland Security.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)While everyone loves a mom-and-pop shop, Speck points out that we also value the convenience and consistency we can expect from chains and mail order. The future of shopping probably has room for both large-scale retailers that offer expediency and smaller shops that focus more on the experience of shopping.

A transcript follows the video.

The Motley Fool’s chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for the next year. Find out which stock it is in the special free report: “The Motley Fool’s Top Stock for 2013.” Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Audience Member: One more question. I’m just assuming that you’re not a big fan of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)’s, Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT)’s , lots of big-box stores, but what are your feelings on the mom-and-pop store on the corner, as opposed to an [Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)] that doesn’t have that footprint, but still can get mass products to the consumers in big cities?

Jeff Speck: The question was — yes I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) or big-box stores. I’m not, because I believe that their entire business model presupposes cheap, road-based transportation of both goods and people, and that if we didn’t so subsidize that in our country they wouldn’t be so successful in our country.

Then the question was, how do I feel about mom-and-pops, versus Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)?

I haven’t done the hard thinking about Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and I don’t want to, because I’m Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime and I love it to death.

Isaac Pino: It’s addictive.

Speck: I do think — I’ve been told by others who have more expertise than me — that the efficiencies of making deliveries in a van to many houses a day make it actually fairly sustainable to be getting that stuff in the mail, as opposed to getting in the car and going to shops, as an individual purchaser. I’d be curious if anyone knows differently.