Fine and fancy expansion was fit to be featured this past week. Let's take a closer look.

Goodbye, Joe Six-Pack; hello, Richie Rich
A new Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) store opened in Plano, Texas this week. Given the heady expansion of the world's largest retailer, it wouldn't usually be much of a story. But this store isn't your garden-variety Wal-Mart -- even in the garden department. This prototype offers gourmet cheeses, organic edibles, and high-end wines. There's even a sushi bar and a Wi-Fi-friendly coffeehouse for those who really want to turn Wal-Mart into Date Night.

It's a good thing that the Wal-Mart smiley logo doesn't have hands, or else it would surely be lifting its pinky fingers at this store. Yes, the new unit also carries most of the dirt-cheap staples that shoppers have come to expect at the leading discount department store chain. It just happens to have really good prices on imported olives and plasma television sets, too.

Is the rest of the chain going to go upscale? That's not the plan in Plano; this swanky store is just a prototype. Just as you can have gourmet grilled panini sandwiches and hand-scooped premium ice cream at a few select McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) eateries, when you're as big as Wal-Mart or Mickey D's, you won't be muddying up the brand by experimenting with the formula. Folks know that you can still get the marked-down essentials at either place. Wal-Mart may be big, but that doesn't mean that it has to be complacent. More importantly, Target (NYSE:TGT) and its cheap-chic approach just got served in Plano.

Something to wear on that hot date to Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart's not the only one trying to go upmarket. Gap (NYSE:GPS) -- the subject of this week's Dueling Fools segment -- announced that it would be expanding its Forth & Towne concept. Targeting five major markets, the five-unit chain will double in size as a result of the ambitious strategy.

With the company busy closing its poorly performing namesake stores and opening more bargain-minded Old Navy locations, Forth & Towne will take years to make a financial impact on Gap's bottom line. The retail king of denim and khaki is making a bold move here, since Forth & Towne is a more upscale concept catering to older shoppers. In other words, its aiming for the Ann Taylor (NASDAQ:ANN) and Chico's (NYSE:CHS) crowds of sophisticated, middle-aged women.

We'll be watching this development closely around Fooldom, since Gap has been recommended by both the Motley Fool Inside Value and Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter services. Then again, it might just be the football fan in me that keeps hearing "fourth down" when I hear the name of the concept. Hmm ... smells like a plot to have agreeable hubbies go along for that trip to the mall.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to look back, even if it means he falls on his face going forward. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Foo l has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.