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Archive for April, 2013

Retail Site Selection Variables, Part 3

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

In Part 1 of this discussion we talked about basic demographic data and other information that retailers and restaurants utilize in their endeavors to enter new markets. Part 2 of the discussion touched on more specialized and technical data and how sometimes communities are under prepared in their marketing efforts, being armed only with basic information.

This segment deals with the information that retail site selectors need, but do not always find when they are doing the due diligence required for new market retail and restaurant growth. The reason they don’t find it is because it is not always readily available, and most communities don’t recognize the need to have it ready to share. We need to discuss the kind of information that will actually set your city apart from the rest of the pack. It is the kind of data that is under the radar and often goes unspoken. We will also discuss the impact of technology, local politics, the effect of the global economy and other key criteria on new retail development.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE:
One of the things that a community has in its favor is the fact that the national retail and restaurant real estate professionals and tenant representatives that are involved in researching new growth markets certainly will miss key bits of local knowledge unless a city provides that info. The city should know about strategic new plans such as road widening and other public infrastructure improvements that are planned and perhaps even budgeted but have not been publicized. Sometimes the local community can work with property owners who may sometimes play hard to get with unknown inquiries but truly are willing to make a deal. New planned residential subdivisions and other mixed used commercial deals are known by the locals but sometimes missed by site selectors. This type of information will not be relevant if no one shares it or no one asks about it. Local liquor laws fall into this category as well.

TECHNOLOGY:
We have blogged about this in earlier posts but it bears repeating here. City leaders should be attempting to upgrade city web sites and GIS systems and provide the very latest technology and applications on city social media. IF technology is available we should use it. Citizens are all looking for information. So are retailers. Some city web sites are so antiquated that a site researcher may be tempted to cull the community from retail investment simply because of a negative first impression.

LOCAL POLITICS:
The area of local politics, especially political instability or negativism, is more devastating to new retail growth than perhaps any other variable. This is especially true in small and medium markets that are already considered risky to retailers and restaurants on first look. In times of political instability on the national level, local city council elections and county commissioner seats are sometimes hotly contested and have a direct effect on a community’s ability to enter into public / private partnerships that are crucial to new retail deals. What turns the development switch on is a local consensus and unity where everyone involved is working together and pulling in the same direction.

City leaders, city administrators, and elected officials need to know how to interact with retail site selectors. We have talked to city managers and economic development professionals who bemoan the fact that they can’t seem to get “behind the ropes”. Let me say it again. Marketing cities is best done by qualified, independent, third party professionals like Retail Attractions. We have the relationships, the “connections”, the network and we know what retailers and their representatives need to see, hear, and feel about a specific site or market before they are comfortable. Let us help your community.

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.