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Poole's closing highlights business woe here

City agency works to keep local shops open

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POSTED: October 18, 2012 6:00 a.m.
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Siblings Jamie Ginn of Jesup and Shaye Wells and Chris Wells, both of Ludowici, shop at the New & Not Shop on Main Street in Hinesville. Ginn said she was looking for clothes for her newborn twin girls.

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When local residents support locally owned, independent businesses, they’re actually supporting their own community, Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis said.
“For every $100 spent in locally owned, independent businesses, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures,” she said, quoting from the 3/50 Project, a pro-local business brand started by retail consultant Cinda Baxter in 2009. “(But) if you spend $100 in a franchise business, only $43 stays here. Most of it goes back to the corporate office for franchise fees.”
She said the information borrowed from the 3/50 Project, which the HDDA supports, comes from the U.S. Department of Labor and Civic Economics, an economic analysis and development strategic-planning consultant group.
Davis and her staff have worked to attract new businesses to downtown Hinesville, expressing an almost-personal loss for the closing of a locally owned business like Poole’s Deli, which closed its doors last Thursday after 21 years in operation.
To help prevent further business closings and attract new businesses, she said the HDDA soon will complete a detailed market analysis of Hinesville’s retail community and will give a full report to the city council the first week in November.
“We’re in the process of finishing up a market analysis,” Davis said. “First, we had to define our primary and secondary trade areas. We’ve also done zip-code surveys that helped us determine for a particular week where customers were coming from.”
She said the city’s goal is to find a “healthy balance” between supporting local business and attracting tourism. To do this, she said the HDDA uses data from Nielsen Claritas’ Retail Market Power and the Economic and Social Research Institute.
Noting the basic economics model of supply and demand, she explained their data compares the supply (from retail sales by store category in the trade area) to demand (from purchases by store category by consumers who live in that trade area).
If consumers who live in a trade area are spending more than the stores that exist in that trade area, dollars are said to be “leaking” to other areas, Davis said. She added that this leakage translates itself into unmet demands, which means there’s opportunity for retail growth.
“We know, for example, we can have the same restaurants we see in other communities, but the majority of these restaurants have to be opened by franchise owners,” she said, explaining U.S. Census data skewed information about the community, leading many businesses away from Hinesville. “Fort Stewart was going through a full deployment at the time of the census. The census data did not convey a true profile of our community.”
Davis said retail consultants use data from the U.S. Census and the Census of Retail Trade to narrow their search to those communities that meet their specifications for populations, median income, educational levels and proximity to interstates and metropolitan areas. Because the census data did not reflect thousands of deployed soldiers, their data is not accurate, Davis said.
She said, however, the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Labor recently noted that among 366 metropolitan statistical areas, Hinesville has had one of the four fastest-growing personal-income increases due to military earnings. These four metropolitan statistical areas saw military earnings grow 14 percent in 2010, she said.
Davis said the HDDA promotes the 3/50 Project because it supports locally owned businesses and precludes further closings in the community.
Visitors to the project’s homepage, www.the350project.net, initially are asked what three independently owned businesses would be missed if those businesses were to disappear. They’re told their purchases help keep those businesses around.
They’re then told that if half the employed population of the United States would spend $50 each month in locally owned, independent businesses, it would generate $42.6 billion in annual revenue.
The centerpiece to the 3/50 Project homepage says simply, “Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.”

 

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