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Retailers eye the city

Growing an area's retail industry is a long process that economic consultant Rickey Hayes, founder of Retail Attractions, says requires patience but retailers will come. Hayes, who has been working with the Sallisaw City Commission since August 2016, reported at Monday's City Council meeting there are three or four entities looking to expand and they are looking seriously at Sallisaw.

“We have one entertainment venue, a recreational venue and two restaurants that may come to tour Sallisaw and the area, between October and November,” Hayes said. “All of these parties would create substantial retail revenue.”

Hayes said he could only use vague terms to discuss the businesses due to contractual agreements.

“The recreational use entity uses the city lake to create rides and floats. Similar attractions have been very popular in similar markets. The entertainment interest is a single purpose industry with six auditoriums. They can go smaller, but they prefer to keep it to a minimum of six auditoriums, but they don't have to be huge,” he said.

Hayes said the interested restaurants are looking at the area and weighing their options.

“You have to know that any of these businesses will be asking for something from the city, so you need to be prepared to offer incentives,” he said.

Hayes said most companies that are looking to expand consider how much of a town's retail community can be seen from the interstate as well as the depth of the market. “Unfortunately, the city doesn't show very well from the interstate. There is nothing we can do about the outward appearance,” Hayes said. “National guys won't come to the Eastside center. We do have some small box tenants that might be interested.”

He said finding the appropriate real estate is the slowest process in commercial building.

He went on to say major retailers look at an area's revenue from retail sales and Sallisaw is 48th in the state in annual retail sales.

“This is a process, a long process, but the retailers are out there. We just have to find the right fit,” Hayes said.

The city agreed to renew Hayes' one-year contract in June and the new contract became effective July 1. The city pays Hayes $3,000 per month for his consulting services.
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