What retailer would you like to see come to Grant County?
By Emily Braunwart, Grant County EDC
Recently Grant County has seen a lot of new growth in the retail sector.
Just in Moses Lake this year, Panda Express, Party City, Marshalls and a second Grant County location of Pita Pit have announced they are opening locations. Prior to 2013 it was not common to hear an announcement about a new store locating here.
Why is that? What drives the decision-makers and their choices? What can we do to help?
Retail stores all have their own guide maps for determining which communities can work. There are many factors and each store can be drastically different. Even Home Depot and Lowe’s have different criteria they look for even though they are both home supply stores.
One of the common factors retailers look for in communities is the population, the more people in a smaller radius the better. For example, Olive Garden wants a population of 100,000 people within a 15-minute drive time!
Average income is another factor. Companies like Target want communities with an average household income of $63,000 per year. Currently Grant County’s average household income is $56,655.
A third factor that isn’t so obvious is how specific retailers are about the building or site they will develop. For example, a site that is 10 feet longer than it is wide, or doesn’t have the right easement behind it, can be the difference between a green light or the company opening a location somewhere else. Some retailers are even so specific, they want to pick who their neighbors are and they will only locate next to certain stores.
On top of all these site selection factors, companies can open only so many stores in a given year. As a hypothetical example, Kohl’s will open 30 stores this year all across the United States. This means if Moses Lake is in the competition for one of these stores we could be competing with metropolitan areas like Boston, Phoenix, Miami or Denver.
Even though Grant County may be able to support Kohl’s, if the company determines it will make more money by opening in Denver, then it will open a store there. We may meet all the other factors but still be passed over simply because another location is more profitable.
Retailers have teams of people dedicated to finding and opening new locations. They come into the community to count rooftops, explore the current retail environment and browse through local social media to get a feel of what a community is really like.
We have heard from many of these teams that Grant County is close to reaching a tipping point. As new stores open we will attract more shoppers to our community to shop in these stores. This will continue to grow local retail sales which will encourage more companies to locate here which then attracts more shoppers to our community and the cycle repeats.
Although a new company announcing its decision to locate here might not excite everyone, it may be the store other people are wanting. The thing to remember is every additional retail store gets us a step closer to bringing other retailers or restaurants that are on the community’s wish list.
Emily Braunwart is the business recruitment manager for the Grant County Economic Development Council. She can be reached at Emily@grantedc.com.