You want another grocery store in town? How about three?
A study released last week finds the Statesboro area could support up to three additional grocery stores. But, remember, it's only a study. No new grocery store announcements yet.
Speaking in the council chambers of City Hall, Chuck Branch of Retail Strategies gave two public presentations last week outlining the results of the retail strategy study his firm completed for the City of Statesboro.
The first presentation focused on information available to current retail businesses to help them determine market opportunities. The second was geared more to developers, realtors and building contractors in the community to help offer an overview of opportunities in the market.
Branch explained that one of the priorities of the study is creating and executing a grocery store recruitment plan. Through the research and peer analysis of comparable cities Retail Strategies identified six national grocery chains that should be targeted, including Publix, Kroger, ALDI, WMT Market, Sprouts and Ingles.
The city also requested a merchandising plan for the Northside Drive retail corridor, downtown, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Fair Road. Also, the firm plans to create and execute a restaurant recruitment plan for the entire Statesboro Trade area.
Branch outlined some short and intermediate goals his firm will concentrate its focus.
1) Assisting in the recruiting to the market by calling on retailers, brokers, developers and local property owners.
2) Incorporate student spending data into marketing of all sites to targeted retailers.
3) Create customized marketing material for the city and key properties and projects.
4) Mass marketing to retail tenants and national brokerage community.
5) Play host to meetings with targeted developers and retailers at the regional and national International Council of Shopping Centers conferences (ICSC).
6) Provide regular updates and reporting through his companies BaseCamp Project Management Software.
One of the most interesting parts of the presentation was the GAP analysis, which is a summary of the primary spending gaps in several retail categories. By comparing actual consumer spending in the Statesboro's trade area to potential spending, the analysis determines the loss of revenue outside our trade area for certain goods and services.
Grocery stores lead the GAP analysis with a potential $56 million in lost revenue.
The report also concludes that Statesboro can support up to three additional grocery stores to meet the projected market demand. The nine categories of retailers chosen for the presentation projected a loss of potential retail revenue at more than $133 million annually. The sales tax growth alone could potentially be more than $6 million for our community.
As an owner of a small business, I always get a little concerned when we see a push to bring in more large chain stores into our community. Because of this concern I asked Branch how he felt this would impact small businesses like mine - insurance and photography.
His response, based on the data, is that shoppers seek certain brands. As proven, they will leave the market to find it. If they leave, then local merchants have no opportunity to benefit in secondary sales to shoppers remaining in the market.
In both presentations, he strongly encouraged local businesses to meet with the city and review the data for their specific category of retail. He gave several examples of businesses in other markets that used this data to fill some of these gaps by expanding or enhancing product lines in their businesses.
With the current focus on the redevelopment of the South Main Street corridor, our leaders obviously understand the value of a strong downtown when recruiting industry, professionals and college students.
The redevelopment can be obtained by offering a balance of national chains and local retailers. One of the ideas presented in the question and answer sections to address redevelopment is the creation of a tram system that would help connect Georgia Southern students to downtown.
Another idea discussed was the development of entertainment districts which provide unique incentives to national and local retailers to locate in focus areas for development like downtown or South Main. We have seen this work in Athens, Madison and Savannah.
Thanks to Mayor Jan Moore, a link inside the online version of this column on statesboroherald.com provides the complete text from both presentations.
Mayor Moore also reminded everyone in attendance that "all of this information is available to you and can be customized for you. Please feel free to use this resource."
She urged the public to contact the city at (912) 764-0630 to obtain any of the information or to find out how to customize reports you need.
• "Cake" a full service bakery and "Cool Beanz" Espresso Bar are now open at 58 C East Main Street in the former Sweet Cheeks Bakery location. After extensive renovations owners Shannon Ward and David Hoyle invite by.
• IronWedgeCoffee.com is a new locally owned coffee roasting company owned by Tara Francisco and Ross and Jennifer Morris Cairney. It is available at Cool Beanz and they are distributing amazing fresh coffee blends throughout the southeast. They offer free delivery to Statesboro residents.
• Dr. Nick Toussaint has opened Magnolia Women's Healthcare at 1555 Brampton Avenue in the former Atlanta Gastro office. Dr. Toussaint is married to Statesboro native Bess the daughter of Darby and Dr. "Bobby" Benson.