The reasons any business owner decides to locate, develop and run a brick-and-mortar store are myriad, and working with retailers on the national stage, the city of Maryville and Nodaway County Economic Development approach the topic in different ways.
City Manager Greg McDanel told The Forum in late April that there are communities out there with war chests filled with funds to help go after national retailers.
“But we as a rural community really focused on just trying to eliminate the gaps and fill project needs where we can,” he said.
Whether it’s a code issue, site issue or removing perceived barriers to development, McDanel said a “considerable amount” of his time and efforts spent facilitating the needs of business owners are put toward bringing new businesses to town.
So much so that in October 2019 the city approved a three-year, $120,000 agreement with Retail Strategies to assist the city with making connections with national retailers.
McDanel said the city felt very comfortable with Retail Strategies and what its results have been in other smaller communities and in 2022 renewed its contract with the company.
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“The reason our company exists is just because we know city leaders such as Greg, city manager, wears probably 15 different hats running a city. We really appreciate and love the partnership we have there with the city, and Greg McDanel’s just been an amazing partner for us. (It) definitely makes our job a lot easier when we have someone that is as plugged in and connected and engaged as Greg.”Clay Craft, Vice President of Recruitment Services, Retail Strategies
Maryville, NCED work to bring national retailers to town
However, the timing of their hiring was not exactly perfect with the COVID-19 pandemic beginning just six months later.
One of the most visible fruits of Retail Strategies’ work done for the community is the new standalone corporate-owned Starbucks located on South Main Street where a U.S. Bank once had stood.
“Starbucks opening in the market opened up a lot of people’s eyes,” he said. Craft said it even helped with an as-yet unannounced tenant taking over the JC Penney building next to Maurices. “We generated that tenant. We’re very proud of it, a big star on our chest for our work in Maryville for sure. … You have to incrementally move up the levels of retail. It’s going to really signal to a lot of these other retailers we’ve been interfacing with.”
Clay explained that the process comes down, nearly entirely, to location. Using the Starbucks as an example, he said that at first, the company wasn’t considering Maryville. In an initial review, the market was believed to be too small.
Retail Strategies brought them in to tour, adamant that the area was good for what the company wanted — a captive audience. Even after the tour, they weren’t completely sold on the location, Craft said. That is, until the former U.S. Bank location became available.
“The perfect site popped up to them and it created an opportunity that they could decide to pounce on.”Clay Craft
Tenacity + Experience
Retail Strategies goes beyond data, providing a network of contacts and trust gained over years of community consulting.
Staying in touch with the right people in the right companies, who, Craft says, are right now making decisions for stores to be built in 2024 through 2026, is key to locating national retailers in rural communities.
Being able to work on behalf of the city, Craft said, helps the company to find the right spaces for businesses looking to locate stores. If there aren’t certain spots available, he said they can contact landowners and shopping center owners and help make connections to make a location work for a retailer.
That process can sometimes take far more time than the general shopper might know. From start to finish of a project, Craft and McDanel agree it can take years, but usually more like 18 months.
“This is an absolute marathon, not a sprint,” Craft said. “…We can’t control the result. We can only control the efforts. … At the end of the day, we can’t make these retailers do anything. Really our role is to influence these deals. Show them opportunities that they have not seen. Show them the market in a way hopefully that they’ve never seen it before. Because every single location is going to be a collective sum of people’s opinions. It’s not AI-generated. It’s not demographically generated. It is a collective group of people’s opinions at the end of the day.”
About Retail Strategies
Retail Strategies is the national expert in recruiting businesses and strategically developing communities. Our mission is to provide the real estate expertise, tools, and human effort that position deserving towns as alluring locations for national businesses and destinations for tourism and quality-of-life amenities. We confidently pursue this mission by delivering unparalleled customer service as a unified team with unmatched real estate and community development expertise. Our activities pay a return in sales taxes, added jobs, and businesses that enhance and add to the unique qualities of your community.
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