By. Neil Williamson, President
Last weekend, I drove to Harrisonburg to rent a floor sanding machine from Home Depot. If I had more properly planned this long weekend task, I would have rented locally, but as it was a Sunday revelation, Home Depot was my only option. Harrisonburg was closest. I learned that Home Depot has 49 Virginia stores. An hour of windshield time each way, got me thinking ‘Why don’t we have a Home Depot’.
The answer was provided to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors in a commissioned Retail Market Report from consultant Retail Strategies. This consultant has been engaged by the County for a two year contract where they will be assisting the Economic Development office regarding national retail recruiting as well as business retention.
While much of the report was boilerplate data from subscription data sources, the underlying understanding – that Albemarle needs retail economic development is new, positive sign for local government.
The report included a gap analysis regarding those retail outlets that were underrepresented in the Charlottesville/Albemarle region. When such a gap exists, folks seeking specific retailers are forced to buy outside of the trade area also known as ‘Retail Leakage’. My trip to Harrisonburg is an example of such retail leakage where dollars could have been collected in the Charlottesville/Albemarle market.
The Free Enterprise Forum notes the data collection for this report occurred Pre-COVID-19 but it still has value.
Albemarle is considering the import of attracting and retaining business and working to understand the reasons why retail businesses choose one location over another. Asking such hard questions is required to get to the right answers.
“What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.” – Jonas Salk
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded non partisan public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credit: WordPress, Retail Strategies