Retail Attractions, LLC
In a past life I was a police officer. When I was preparing to enter that profession I naively presumed that if they realized how bright I was and recognized my considerably advanced skill level, that I would immediately be placed in an administrative position: Boy was I wrong! They wouldn’t even give me any bullets until I had completed nine months of intensive training and preparation. I know you are dying to know what this has to do with the process of recruiting retail to your city. Well, let me tell you: Communities all over the country are beginning to realize that they are simply not prepared to bring national retail goods and services to their citizens and maybe more importantly, they are realizing that they are missing the considerable sales tax revenues that the retail growth adds to their bottom lines. Preparation is a crucial part in the process. If you were selling a house, you would want the house as clean and polished as possible before you presented it. But what if you are trying to sell a city? How does your city show? How does your city’s website portray your community? How do outside investors see your community? What kind of development and growth philosophy do your city leaders have? One thing is for sure:Cities that aren’t growing are decaying, and in today’s competitive environment, a decaying city isn’t going to win the war for attention.
Every community should have a basic knowledge of who lives there and who shops there. City administrators should have a basic understanding of the people they serve: their age, income, education, ethnicity, employment status, and family makeup. Communities should have an idea of who owns the developable tracts of real estate and have some sort of a strategic land use plan. Knowledge of flood plain data and other environmental concerns is always helpful. Believe me, you would be very surprised how a little knowledge of basic information will save tremendous amounts of time and money when the focus in the community turns to retail recruitment. Defining the city’s trade area is a little more technical and requires some knowledge of key factors such as traffic flow patterns, other population centers, and the dynamics of other localized clusters of retail development. Unless you can get your community’s data “inside the ropes” to the decision makers in the retail industry, your city will most likely get swallowed up by the 43,300 other US zip codes who think their local retail potential is better than yours.
So now your interested… check back next week to see what to do about it.
Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.