Archive for Thursday, February 28, 2008

Retail drain: Lawrence shoppers taking their dollars to Wyandotte County

But will their boom mean our bust?

February 28, 2008


Douglas' retail sales falling behind Wyandotte's

Douglas County is locked in competition with Wyandotte for retail sales, and the Lawrence area is falling behind. Enlarge video

The Lawrence area's bowl of retail sales is leaking, and the money that's leaving town is increasingly flowing into mega shopping areas in Wyandotte County, an economist says.

A new report from David Darling, a retired Kansas State University economics professor, indicates that Douglas County is losing ground to other communities that are competing for shoppers' spending.

Most notable in soaking up Lawrence's departing shoppers, Darling said, is the relatively new area in Kansas City, Kan., that is home to Kansas Speedway, the Legends shopping area and Village West.

The area's Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cabela's, Great Wolf Lodge and a long line of restaurants, national retailers and other destinations are continuing to build momentum that could make matters even worse for the Lawrence area, Darling said.

"Wyandotte County is the new player, and whenever there is a new player there is the novelty factor, and there is an initial rush," said Darling, who has been studying the relative retail strength of Kansas communities for years. "If there is appeal, and people are pleased with it, there will be repeat business - and that's when the bloodletting starts."

Specifically, Darling said, county-by-county data detailing sales-tax collections indicates that Wyandotte County - once considered the "weak link" in the region's retail marketplace - "is showing more strength now than ever before, and that strength is markedly improved."

Using sales-tax reports from the Kansas Department of Revenue, he computed a "retail trade pull factor" for each county.

A factor of 1.00 indicates a county has a perfect balance of trade. Anything less means a county is losing more spending than it's bringing in; anything above shows that a county is attracting more spending than it is losing.

Douglas County's pull factor, for the state's 2007 fiscal year, was 0.87, down from 0.97 a year earlier and 0.99 before that.

The shrinkage of activity is enough to cost Douglas County retailers as much as $44.3 million in taxable retail sales each year, Darling said.

"It's a big pie, but it's shrinking," he said.

Wyandotte County, meanwhile, recorded a 0.90 last year, up by 0.002 from a year earlier and up from 0.84 in 2005.

Chris Burger, president of Downtown Lawrence Inc., understands how a case can be made that Wyandotte County is sucking away shoppers from Douglas County. But he's not convinced that it's a permanent loss.

Downtown Lawrence has been around more than 150 years, he said, and building momentum as a commercial center since the reconstruction following Quantrill's Raid in 1863.

The Legends? While it boasts a $248 million price tag and 1.1 million square feet of retail and entertainment space, it's been open for fewer than two years. Some retailers near the Kansas Speedway, however, have been attracting shoppers for longer. Cabela's, for example, opened in 2002, and Nebraska Furniture Mart opened the following year.

"Wyandotte County is doing a great job in attracting a lot of businesses, and continues to add to it, so the intrigue factor will probably be here for quite awhile," said Burger, an attorney for Stevens & Brand. "But, eventually, their buildings will grow tired, and then they'll have to rebuild it all.

"I would suppose that people are not so attracted to the individual shops as they are to the concept of the location. What comes to mind are outlet malls. People always thought: 'What a neat idea. Let's go see what there is.' And once they became accustomed to what was present, it wasn't very good - in selection, and environment, in time, distance, expense - especially when everything they need is right in front of them."

Losing retail sales to other communities can do more than squeeze the bottom lines for stores. The leakage also means a reduction in sales taxes that cities and counties charge, a major source of revenue for government services including police and fire protection, street maintenance and parks and recreation operations.

Darling said that smaller communities, such as Eudora, could be especially susceptible to retail shopping leaving the county for destinations in Wyandotte County. He would advise businesses in Eudora to focus on convenience products and services - fast food, fuel stations, hair care centers, medical services and the like - without trying to take on the retail magnet that already is increasing its pull to the north and east.

"Anybody who opens a furniture store in Eudora would be in deep trouble very, very quickly," Darling said, alluding to the market dominance of Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Shawnee County, meanwhile, also is seeing its relative retail strength decline, Darling said, but likely for different reasons.

Shawnee County, with a regional mall and other major shopping draws on Wanamaker Road in Topeka, checked in with a pull factor of 1.14 last year, unchanged from a year earlier but down from 1.16 in 2005 and 1.18 in 2004.

The reason could be Manhattan's growth, including opening of a new Best Buy store, in drawing more shoppers who live between the home of Kansas State University and the state's capital city.


Michael Capra 10 years, 3 months ago

try getting anything done at the planning department there never there and if they are they tell you they dont have time or they wont be there because of sick kid so they have an excuse to not get what you want when they are there all day and have no sick kid.Or just cancel meetings because they have not spent anytime getting the project done.So how can lawrence get anything done

Ragingbear 10 years, 3 months ago

You mean making it impossible for anyone to get a respectable job, and not allowing any real commerce into Town is bad for our economy?

I know. Let's build a round-a-bout in the middle of a golf course! Those are TWO things! We will be all powerful! Muhuwahawha! Wait... what?

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

25 years building a bedroom community is the first and foremost problem.... thanks to the chamber of commerce and the execs of the real estate industry led governing bodies:

Food for thought aka 25 years of bad management practices = stealing from the taxpayers:

Donovan Scruggs, Ocean Springs director of community development and planning, said the city's current budget. crunch can be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments.

"If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch," Scruggs said. "But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality."

Scruggs said there have been two studies done on impact fees. One 100-page study was on services for police and fire protection, administration and parks. A second study was done on infrastructure related impacts on roads, water and water.

The current proposal calls for the fees to be collected separately.

"We want. to make sure we tie the fees as closely as possible to when the demand is being generated," Scruggs said. "Water and sewer fees would be collected when the subdivision is constructed. Services more related to occupancy and homes being constructed would be collected later. For example, no one will have a need for a park until there are kids in that neighborhood."

While developers pay for onsite water, sewer and road infrastructure, Scruggs said it is costly to pay for offsite upgrades needed, such as enlarging lift stations and raising water towers.

"Now if we have to upgrade a lift station, it is paid for by the general fund revenue paid by each taxpayer in the city," Scruggs said. "Someone on the west side of town would have to pay for subsidizing the growth in demand caused by the development in the east part of town."

The eastern part of town is where the greatest residential growth is being seen. Scruggs said there has been so much growth in recent years that the city has to elevate its water towers to keep pressure at adequate levels. "That was a direct result caused by the growth," he said.

Scruggs said that impact fees are legal if they are done properly.

"Madison's impact fee program had problems," Scruggs said. "Ours will not have those problems. It can be done right."

Ocean Springs had 120 homes constructed in 2000, 90 in 2001 and is on track to have 120 homes constructed in 2002. If impact fees had been collected on the 310 homes built in three years, the city would have extra revenues of about $2.1 million.

In order for the city to have orderly growth, developers need to be responsible for a certain amount of the infrastructure. Most builders understand impact fees are for a purpose that improves their development."

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Take note to the fact that both Topeka and KCMO metro are spending a lot of time and money restoring their downtowns as our decision makers continue down the road of small town sprawl and higher taxes INSTEAD of maintaining and promoting our single and most productive economic driver aka downtown.

The real estate powehouses are making tons of money for themselves yet our community is going down the economic drain. Isn't this evidence enough that Lawrence needs new thinking on our governing bodies? New faces did not bring new thinking because new thinking did not finance their campaigns.

BigPrune 10 years, 3 months ago

There are three types of cities: cities that make things happen; cities that watch things happen; and cities that wondered, what happened?

Lawrence has watched things happen for 7 years at least, and now people are starting to wonder, what happened?

Create something that will bring people to town and keep residents from going somewhere else to buy goods. Banking on our history as the main attraction to draw people isn't going to cut it.

Steve Jacob 10 years, 3 months ago

The Legends is killing us. Does anyone buy here furniture any where but Nebraska Furniture Mart? Remember he high prices at Ed Marlings? And what can you do with kids in this town for fun? Googles, Swimming? No real arcades, no mini-golf, no go-carts. And don't forget a new huge waterpark and casino will be going up at the Village West soon.

Years ago they fought from having a real mall in this town to save downtown, and people are just going out of town to shop.

Godfather94 10 years, 3 months ago

I read an article the other day that Lawrence was growing in population. I have lived in Olathe for 32 years now, and this community has grown about 500% in that time period. One thing I have learned is in a community which has a population growth, you have to have two things happen. One, you have to have a growth in residential housing. In order to keep the dolllar in your community, there has to be a growth in all types of commercial building. Olathe has succeeded in both. When I read srj last sentence in his comment, my first thought was, if a mall would have been built a few years ago, this would have been a good start in keeping the dollar in the Lawrence. I don't know how many years ago it was, but I bet it was before western Wyandotte County started growing. This responsibility belongs to the city planning commissioner. Not thinking about the future. The only possible way (IMO) out of this problem is for your city taxes be raised. Good luck to your future. There is a light at the end of this tunnel.

ksdivakat 10 years, 3 months ago

You cant have a "career" in lawrence, to many students who will do the work for min wage or less, so you have to go outside of lawrence to have a career. If your already working in the kc area, its just easier to get off work and stop by the mall or whatever to do your shopping. Kc has alot of fun things to do for family, kids and even adults...Lawrence is not so kid friendly, it costs an arm and a leg to get your kids into anything parks and rec, and aside from that, theres nothing to do unless its school related. The good people of lawrence need to wake up and get a brand spankin new city counsel in there, a new mayor, and make the city counsel work for us instead of working for their pockets!

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence needs to focus on Lawrence not on surrounding retail activity. Lawrence has it's own niche and we should put our energies in that direction. Taxpayers are being misled once again by our governing city,county and planning commissions.

"kirk mcclure not mentioned once thank god" Kirk has never been in a place to make the 25 years of wrong decisions leading to economic displacement = too much retail and to much residential = not enough dollars in Lawrence,Kansas to support too much of everything. Lawrence has become a model of how not to grow a city and our city,county and planning commissions continue to take the community down that road.

People screaming out let the builders do whatever they damn well please has not produced a strong economic community. 25 years of more than 4% annual increases in property taxes testifies to that situation.

A community such as Lawrence was never a shop till you drop community because why would anyone want to come to Lawrence to shop big box stores? They have their own big box stores with far greater selections. Tanger Mall and Riverfront Plaza are both failed retail examples.

Topeka metro and KCMO/JOCO metro have been the shopping giants forever because they have the population to support such activity. These areas were built slow and methodically over the last 100 years. It's only reasonable to accept that Lawrence people will wander off to these areas rather than pretend that Lawrence will be a shop till you drop community. Downtown should be the core business district because that is what draws people to Lawrence... that and KU. Small town sprawl is eating away at our budget dollars = taxpayers cannot this type of growth.

dagger 10 years, 3 months ago

We do all our major shopping out of town there is not enough variety in the retail here that is affordable. My family would rather not wear the same thing every other kid in town is wearing. You can also only get the same old same at any of our resturaunts.

Michael Capra 10 years, 3 months ago

kirk mcclure not mentioned once thank god

geekin_topekan 10 years, 3 months ago

I have never left Lawrence to shop...ever.Except maybe on a Sundays when liqour was only sold in Missouri. My point is,WHO is leaving town to spend retail bucks? The same people who came here and created the traffic problems,pushed housing prices through the roof,keep wages down and built our very own innercity right here in Toontown. Then they spend their money out of town for whatever reason and still b!tch about the homeless,potholes,T and anything else that doesn't fit their idea of Suburbia. God,quit whining and go home.

DaREEKKU 10 years, 3 months ago

I am not surprised. If I want to buy good clothes, I go to the Plaza/KC. If I want anything else of quality...I go to KC as well. The job market here is a JOKE. I know quite a few people WITH degrees that cannot find a job here that pays about 8-10 dollars an hour. The housing prices are more expensive here than in Kansas City because you are paying for "charm". What charm!? We had a city commission that prevented any type of change, and refused to accept the reality that we are indeed, a suburb of Kansas City. Now we have a city commission that is mowing over anybody in their way for the sake of business interests (and not positive ones).

You wonder why retail sales have gone down and yet the city approved a second Wal-Mart....WAL-MART!? Build upscale shopping with name brands and scrap the cheap crap. Also...maybe a few box chains (high quality) strategically inserted downtown might help.

doc1 10 years, 3 months ago

I shop out of town because there is no selection. If I want to buy something at Home Depot I often go to another one because the city has downsized the stores so much there isn't nearly the selection of products as in bigger stores. It's the cities fault.

flutter 10 years, 3 months ago

You're right...buying quality clothing in Lawrence is a joke. Yes, locally-owned stores are great in several ways....but the ones in Lawrence just don't offer clothing that I want to wear. I don't understand the resistance to "chain" stores like Banana Republic, etc. Yeah, they're not locally-owned....but if Lawrence had them, wouldn't they provide employment for Lawrence residents and keep more people in Lawrence to shop?

average 10 years, 3 months ago

May I ask divaKat what it is about Lawrence that does bring her here (I assume she's in Lawrence, if she's posting on this board)? Your job is in KC, shop in KC, KC is more kid-friendly, and there's more to do? What's the appeal here, then?

The fact that retailing is the sine qua non of our lives, cities, economy, and culture is disturbing.

Easy 10 years, 3 months ago

I live and work in Lawrence and I avoid Downtown like the plague. No place to park, To many freaks down there, and who could forget the homeless as well. I have yet to see any homeless up at the Legends and I was just there last week.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

"Also:maybe a few box chains (high quality) strategically inserted downtown might help." Yep But because of 25 years of bad retail planning this may or may not work.

Quality department stores were anchors in downtowns for decades while the smaller MOM and POP stores surrounding them were also profitable. They fed off each other.

Also rumor has it that a study is underway to determine whether or not Overland Park is becoming over saturated in retail.

Hotrod_granny 10 years, 3 months ago

First of all in order to own a home in Douglas County you have to work outside of Douglas County to afford that home. So if your driving out of town to work why not shop close to where you work. I live in Lawrence, work in KC shop on my lunch hour and again before leaving KC. I havn't shopped in downtown Lawrence in over 15 years.

lounger 10 years, 3 months ago

Try finding the educated, nice people in legends. Maybe some but its not like home. I shop In Lawrence and love to go downtown. Its all about ebb and tide-shoppers will come back soon-Legends is just a big shoppers disney-Lawrence is a real town with personality. Im staying here and shopping. Have fun on your way to K.C. and, oh, dont forget to fill the gas tank before leaving.....

lee2550 10 years, 3 months ago

Heres a reason I shop out of Lawrence. I have an old Jeep that needed exhaust work. Just a 6 cylinder, one exhaust. I shopped around and 470 dollars was the best I found. Of course when i called they gave me a ballpark figure of 250 dollars. After I left it there, they called back and said there were a few more bends in it than they thought, the cost was now 470.00! So, I picked it up, took it to K.C. and the shop there told me I didnt need the head pipe, it was in great shape, all I needed was a muffler and tail pipe. $130.00.. OUr businesses here are greedy, is a lot of the problem.

lee2550 10 years, 3 months ago

Well, about 30 years ago, the Lawrence "fathers" started pushing hard to get the trendy, rich Johnson County types to come to Lawrence, and they did. But they didnt bring their businesses with them and they continued to shop in K.C.

craigers 10 years, 3 months ago

How can they even think that the bleeding might stop after the Legends gets away from the "new" feeling? It is a great atmosphere, with music playing, fountains going, and shops that people like all in one place. And then to top it off, you can go to NFM and Cabelas to look around and then grab a bite to eat at numerous places that Lawrence doesn't have and probably would say no to.

dirkleisure 10 years, 3 months ago

You know what will solve this? Another Wal-Mart.

The real issue here is a lack of interest on the part of developers. You can blame the government all you want, but the only major retail proposal in the last 10 years has been for a second Wal Mart.

As for the comment about the Home Deport and Best Buy, the "city" had nothing to do with the size of those stores.

The capitalists in this town have no vision to equal the one set out in Wyandotte County.

rollcar 10 years, 3 months ago

I've lived in Lawrence for 10 years, and while I do frequent downtown, it's more of a novelty than a true shopping district. All of my clothing is purchased in KC. Think about it, for an adult male, where is there to shop downtown? Urban Outfitters? The Buckle? The Gap? American Eagle? These are all stores geared toward college students (making no mention of the fact that they are also all national chains, not local). The only place downtown to get a selection of true business casual shirts, ties, socks, etc. is Weavers, and it consists of one room filled with clothes my grandfather would wear. And how about childrens' clothes? Where do you buy childrens' clothes downtown? At the used store? That's a fine option, but the majority of clothing most people purchase is not used. They closed the Baby Gap, so what other choice do we have but to go to the Legends? I realize this is a college town, but where there are college students there are college graduates. If Lawrence aspires to be anything but a college town/bedroom community, they need to do more to attract and retain adults and families.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

Part of the problem is that we have a Hack instead of a Marinovich.

Add to that a bozo business czar and elitism, wild animals with guns downtown, puke on the sidewalks and panhandling guests, perfect recipe for a dead city. Lawrence should take anything it can get because the doors are not being broken down to get in here.

I'm sure if our leaders could, they would ban retail dollars from leaving the county (along with imposing that intangible tax on your savings). There should be no surprises, this is the culmination of no growth mentality & deadbeat losers proclaiming that if you don't work here, don't live here. What needs to be understood is that living in Lawrence is no huge prize, and the city does not automatically "deserve" to be patronized merely because it exists.

OnlyTheOne 10 years, 3 months ago

There's another area at which to point the finger in Lawrence's loss of buyers - I'm tired of trying to buy in this town. Oh, sorry we don't stock that. Oh, sorry we're out of those. Oh, sorry nobody in the whole store saw you for the 30 minutes you milled around looking at those but now that the store is empty can I sell you something? Oh, sorry we don't have room to stock those in that size. Why would you want one of those? Oh, sorry we don't know anything about that vehicle - absolutely not ONE word about finding out though! But this is the one I like most - the retailer that parked his high dollar Volvo (Maybe BMW can't remember which) directly under the business' sign which read, "buy locally!" that's paraphrased it might have been, "support your local businesses." Lemme say it succinctly retailers, you can't do business from an empty wagon and you get what you give .

lee2550 10 years, 3 months ago

Living in Lawrence is no huge prize???? Has to be. Check out your property taxes!!

monkeyhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

The entire Lawrence retail sector should close for three hours and go to Starbuck's for a bone up on customer appreciation.

OnAir 10 years, 3 months ago

The coffee we need to smell is that NFM is a killer. It drove Benchmark out of business and has nearly closed down every furniture store in Kansas City. Well done WYCO in bringing in such a draw.

Downtown is not going to give up, but also should not pretend it can compete against the likes of Wolf Lodge, the racetrack, and NFM. It cannot and should not try to be all things to all people, but needs to push the City to start getting ahead of the curve, or ANYTHING. The City chases and never leads.

just_another_ninja 10 years, 3 months ago

All the while KU Athletics continues to watch revenues soar as they try tirelessly to lock local Lawrence businesses out of the opportunities that continue to surround the program.

Where you at KU Ath? -- KU vs. MU -- KU Orange Bowl celebration

BigAl 10 years, 3 months ago

I support my hometown and do almost 100% of my shopping right here in Lawrence. I support business that supports me. Every dollar spent in Kansas City or Topeka does absolutely nothing for me, my family, my friends or my home town. I believe in Lawrence first.

Marty_McFly 10 years, 3 months ago

I really long for the good ol' days where we could all go downtown and have a soda and listen to the jukebox.

bluerose 10 years, 3 months ago

what i'm wondering is how all these people have so much disposable income that they can not only shop, but drive far to do it.

my car doesn't run well enough to drive out of town any longer, but i am certainly not suffering from any deprivation. i seem to be able to get everything i need in lawrence (not walmart. never.) or online. but perhaps my needs are minimal.

man, i hope i get out of lawrence before there is a MALL here!

rollcar 10 years, 3 months ago

I'm all about supporting the hometown, but when your choices are exactly zero, what option do you have? Other than the used store, where exactly does downtown Lawrence want me to buy my kids' clothes? How about a fishing pole? A set of golf clubs? Am I asking too much here?

toefungus 10 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence is in for a long period of problems. Limited population growth, limited retail growth, negative industrial growth. The University of Kansas is not growing much either because of tuition increases over the years which saps more purchasing power from our out of town studends. Transportation costs and housing will suppress growth in a big way. That powerful sucking sound from the east is getting stronger.

Sean Livingstone 10 years, 3 months ago

Time to wake up and realize that even without a Walmart in Lawrence, somewhere, somehow, the big retailers are able to divert the money, even when they're so far away. That's the reality. Why are we blaming only Walmart? That's capitalism and democracy at work.

Jackson 10 years, 3 months ago

$4.00 per gal. gas may encourage commuters to re-locate closer to their jobs, if they can sell their McMansions.

midwestmom 10 years, 3 months ago

We live here, work here, own a home, pay our taxes (higher every year) and can't hardly wait to leave. Five years max, we retire and we're taking our law abiding, tax paying selves to a community that might appreciate us as citizens. I'm fed up with bad or no service. I'm tired of not feeling safe downtown or having to explain to my young child why that person is urinating against a building in broad daylight or passed out in a planter. This is not a family community. Somewhere - we've substituted NO FREAKING COMMON SENSE for compassion. Everyone should be held to the same standard. I'm not a homeless basher, but if you break the law, go to jail. Pay your fine or do your time. Be respectful of property, private or public. If you can't - it's a problem and you should be held accountable for it. There are not any kid friendly activities here. We have driven to KC twice in the past month to take our child roller skating and then ice skating. You can only watch so many movies. I think LPRD does a good job of offering sports activities for our kids on a pretty limited basis, but what are teenagers options on a Friday or Saturday night around here? It's like there was a whole segment of the population forgotten - FAMILIES. Lawrence is filled with poor wage options and overly expensive houses on tiny lots. It is so sad to me to see how much worse Lawrence has become over the years. Downtown USED TO BE A JEWEL. Not anymore. It isn't surprising that the expensive parking garage is a huge white elephant. It's DANGEROUS and poorly located. How do we encourage family oriented business in Lawrence without financially supporting them? Probably the same way we encourage employers to look at Lawrence. Okay, I'm done, but do the commissioner's every REALLY LOOK AT WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS COMMUNITY ANYMORE?

Marty_McFly 10 years, 3 months ago

Multidisciplinary (Anonymous) says:

Marty, you still can, Sandbar has soda and jukebox.

If they have a sodajerk who wears a white uniform than I might have to check them out.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

To answer WHO is leaving Lawrence to shop, that would be ME! This towns shopping leaves a lot to be desired. This towns retailers does not cater to plus sized people. It does not cater to children who want to wear something other than Gap. I do not just shop in Wyandotte county, I go to Topeka and Heck i even go to Missouri to find the things that i need. Honestly why would I dine at the HH concept? The regular Herford House sucked. I love the Legends. I take my kids to the Nike Outlet, I go to the Converse Outlet, We may eat at Famous Dave's or Cheeseburger in Paradise. I am sorry downtown is suffering. The only places i frequent downtown is Big Daddys for my Tattoos and Fifth Planet for the other things i need. Lawrence needs to wake up and smell the dollar signs.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago

People please calm down...the second Walmart is coming soon and will save us!

We don't need nice retail areas for people to come to, we have Walmart and Doug Compton...when you set the bar that high, how can you ask for more?

rollcar 10 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I've always wondered that myself. People with disposable income, by and large, WORK! Yet when I get off work in the evening and head downtown to shop, everything is closed. What's up with that?

georgeofwesternkansas 10 years, 3 months ago

Lived in Topeka for 25 years and Lawrence was never an option for Shopping. Who would want to bake in the summer or freeze in the winter when you could go to Oak Park Mall and enjoy the day.

Lawrence has kicked Topeka's butt over and over but never devloped the shopping thing. Too bad Lawrence is a nice place.

50YearResident 10 years, 3 months ago

I used to work downtown so I am well aware of the parking problems. The reason I quit shopping downtown is because of the time limits on parking. Two hours max if you park close enough to walk to shop. It puts too much rush on those of us that like to browse at leisure and have something to eat. I get really nervous after 1 1/2 hours and have to rush back to my car to prevent getting a parking ticket. That never happens at the malls. It's just too much of a hassle for those of us in the older generation.

blahblahblah 10 years, 3 months ago

What everyone here has failed to mention/realize is that Lawrence cannot support any type of upscale retail. Outside of the university community, the town of Lawrence as a whole is a sh!thole. How many trailer parks are in this town anyways? Do you think that those people would frequent a Banana Republic? Since a lot of students at KU are from JoCo/KC area, it makes sense that they would drive the 30 minutes to shop places they know are quality. Clothes shopping in Lawrence, if you aren't an undergrad or townie, is a waste of time.

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 3 months ago

Amen MKH, the City Council and Lord Savior Compton are well aware that we are losing retail dollars, that is why we are getting that second walmart. It is a huge tourist draw (not many towns have walmarts, let alone two) and in about two year there will be a similar article to this in the Wyandotte Times talking about all the retail dollars kCK & KCMO & JoCo are losing to Lawrence because of walmart. Because of the walmart and the genius Smart Code development on 6th & Wak that is so nice and walkable it features 2-3 drive-thrus, Legends will look like Tanger within five years.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

yep Rammy it could be the post of the year... Not much else draws me downtown anymore and i have lived here for over 30 years. Does anyone remember when the Riverfront Outlet mall opened OR Tanger Outlet??? HA HA HA i do and i knew they were doomed from the start. I hoped that they would keep me and my family from having to leave town to shop... NOPE I still ended up going to KC and Topeka. (KC encompasses all the areas. Johnson and Wyandotte counties)

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 3 months ago

Walmart is upscale jackass. The peg-leg greeter told me so.

blahblahblah 10 years, 3 months ago

Yes, like Wyandotte County. You see, unlike West Lawrence, there are people who actually want to go to the Legends or Village West, for dining, entertainment, or shopping. When was the last time you made the trip west for the fabulous shopping district of West Lawrence (oh, just wait for the Wal-Mart, you'll be going a lot more often then).

midwestmom 10 years, 3 months ago

Scenebooster, You're right...Johnson County. 135th & Quivira to the Pepsi Ice Rink and then the roller rink on Shawnee Mission off of I-435. But, we also go to Union Station, Crown Plaza and the Country Club Plaza (very occasionally). I don't scare that easily but have been aggressively panhandled everytime I've been downtown recently. So, maybe made very uncomfortable. I don't make direct donations to homeless. Salvation Army, Yes. But to individuals, no.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

Legends will look like Tanger within five years.

Puggy i dont agree... What they have that Tanger didnt is the baseball draw and crowd. I am sorry i forget the name. Have you been to the Legends when there is a game out there and they also get the benefit of the speedway run off shoppers. Just a thought and observation.

lee2550 10 years, 3 months ago

sceneboostr, maybe it has something to do with the baseball bat you JUST joking!!

midwestmom 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't know maybe you're right. But, maybe I don't want to have a "city face". I like feeling free to make eye contact or smile at a stranger...

Alison Roberts 10 years, 3 months ago

I would love to NOT have to drive out of town to do my shopping--but I can never find anything here in town, if I do its always just a little more expensive...Id rather use the gas to drive to KC or the Legends to get a better deal.

craigers 10 years, 3 months ago

And even stores that we have in Lawrence, pale in comparison to selection to the same stores at Oak Park, or the Legends. Like mentioned above, where can I go for kid's clothing here? Lawrence seems dull and definitely needs some revitalizing for the youth in the community. What can they do except movies and loitering?

acg 10 years, 3 months ago

Hey those peeps in the pic are friends of mine! Too cool. Rob & Carmen if you read this, which I'm sure you will, I'll be out to meet that new baby this weekend.

Lisia 10 years, 3 months ago

And when the Great Mall in Olathe opened, it was also the End of the Retail World As We Know It. Now, it's just another sucky outlet mall. With the exception of the big stores (NFM, Cabellas), Legends will eventually go the same way.

But then, I hate shopping. I'd rather get a root canal than shop.

georgeofwesternkansas 10 years, 3 months ago

Isn't downtown Lawrence the best place to go to get shot??

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

The Great Mall still by comparison is better than the Riverfront and Tanger ever was...

d_prowess 10 years, 3 months ago

I am still wanting to know why the few people that have said they work, shop, and get entertained in KC or areas surrounding, actually live in Lawrence. To me, that doesn't seem to make sense.

jayhawklawrence 10 years, 3 months ago

I get the impression sometimes that the County Commission, City Commission and School Board are not altogether happy to work together.

Our community seems to be in a constant state of vapor lock.

So how can anyone lead a community that cannot agree on what they want.

You cannot have good jobs without growth. You cannot have growth without being business friendly.

Nothing will change without facing some very big issues related to road building, industrial space development and getting a realistic understanding of what our downtown is and what it is not.

And how about not demonizing developers. Some are good and some are not so good. They are not all bad. That is ridiculous.

And I agree with Merrill about the cost of infrastructure. Very good stuff but I am not sure how it all would be paid.

We all get a little excited when a really good leader comes along because we feel good things can finally happen. But if that person isn't available, we probably have to try harder to work with the ones we have.

Marty_McFly 10 years, 3 months ago

The Legends Mall will look like Indian Springs Mall in the future.

lunacydetector 10 years, 3 months ago

i want to see a study on the retail spending per capita per square foot within a 5 mile radius of the legends in wyandotte county and compare those findings to the study of retail spending per capita per square foot all the kool-aid drinkers love to sight about lawrence and why lawrence has too much retail per capita.

The Legends proves mr. mcClures hypothesis to be wrong, period.

ksdivakat 10 years, 3 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront....DST came in under the umbrella of Boston Financial services, which is at the old sallie mae building off 6th st.

thomgreen 10 years, 3 months ago

It's really hard to point at The Legends as the catch all reason Lawrence is doing so bad. There seem to be a lot of factors involved here.
I might be incorrect, but haven't I heard that the leasing prices for retail space on Mass street are some of the highest in the area? Is it advantageous to have one company/individual owning the majority of the retail space on Mass, thus setting the market price? Is there any legal way to limit the amount of property an individual or company owns in one business district? Just throwing out ideas, not sure if it's feasible or legal. It seems like diverse ownership of retail space would help foster competition over the rental rates, but I could be wrong. With that, I have to admit, other than drinking and eating, what's there to do downtown after 6pm? Liberty Hall is an oasis of alternative activity in an ocean of food and drink.
Other than the bowling alley, movies, and the skate park when it's nice weather, what is there to do for kids and families in this town. A family fun center seems like it would do well here. A combo of outdoor and indoor activities. Maybe First Management should get something like that going instead of buying buildings and leaving them empty? But I guess as long as you can be BMOC who cares if you're company is fulfilling it's ethical obligation to the community it resides in.
Sorry, lot's of rambling with no apparent point. It's been a long morning.

OhHai 10 years, 3 months ago

The Legends ROCK! Even the Big Box stores here have limited stock and selections (like no Maternity section at Old Navy). Only tourists & college kids can afford the bloated prices Downtown. And unless you like the same, tired stuff at Target and Walmart, there's not much for kids. Don't even bring up Blue Dandelion. Great store, too expensive. When I have real shopping to do I always go out of town. Lawrence needs to wake up and realize that trying to "save" downtown and local merchants by putting a strangle hold on the choices it gives the residents, is the WRONG way to go about it. Growth has to happen people! You just have to learn to do it in a responsible way.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

d_prowess (Anonymous) says:

I am still wanting to know why the few people that have said they work, shop, and get entertained in KC or areas surrounding, actually live in Lawrence. To me, that doesn't seem to make sense.

Perhaps cause KC Schools leave a lot to be desired?

Rex Russell 10 years, 3 months ago

Moved to Lawrence over 15 yrs. ago. One of the earlier posters was correct. To live in Lawrence and live in a part of town that could be discribed as part of the "bedroom community" concept, you have to work out of town to afford it. Earlier this month, there was an article about the "smartest" cities in America. Lawrence was on the list. A few years ago there was an article about college towns that retain students after they graduate. Ranked high there also. They liked the community and wanted to stay here. Sounds like a perfect recipe for a high-tech buisness model. Why are we not courting computer, high-speed comunications, pharm corps, robotics, electronics, and other companies of this sort. High income producing jobs. Our leadership lacks vision I would agree. It also doesn't help that our leadership has always been that famous mix of land developers/builders/real estate and bankers. That will always be the stranglehold on Lawrence. The city commision and chamber of commerce will be the death of us all because they are one and the same as the bankers and developers. When that changes, we'll have progress.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

I will agree that the legends is not the reason DT lawrence is sucky.. It was sucky 10 yrs ago, but it was just another reason for me to NOT shop here.

Compy 10 years, 3 months ago

Maybe Sue Hack will follow the money and go be the Mayor of the Legends.

Cindy Wallace 10 years, 3 months ago

If Lawrence had built a mall "years ago" it would now be like White Lakes in Topeka....and downtown would be dead with empty buildings like every other city that opted for the "mall". I don't know how anyone figures that a Mall would have saved the retail segment in Lawrence. Had the city chosen to do that....people would still be going to The Legends. I would be fearful to shop at a mall that has deteriorated such as White Lakes....look at Indian Lakes..Hills mall (can't even remeber the name of it).

Tony Kisner 10 years, 3 months ago

BigPrune - "Create something that will bring people to town"

They have, down town has two competing homeless shelters. One attempting to attract a higher bound group of customers and the other looking to take any and all. The people are coming to town and at the same time leaving town. To use the economist lingo the net pull of the two star attractions in Down Town Lawrence has been below par.

Lawrence has a big time asset for the market, a ready made down town shopping experience. But no one wants to come and step around drunks to look at funky lamps. Next big attraction coming to down town are payday loan shops, and all the other "Pottersville" attractions.

Best line ever from a movie - Nick - "Look you to pixies, men come in here to drink hard liqour so they can get drunk fast". - In Lawrence they follow up by finding a spot in front of the department store and plan out the next day.

rollcar 10 years, 3 months ago

Don't build a mall; keep the downtown. Our downtown walking district is what differentiates our city from the others in the area. What Lawrence needs to do if they want to compete is drop the 19th-century business model and put some larger, more well-known stores in down there that actually draw shoppers. I'm sorry people, the quaint little shops on Mass St. are charming, but in this day and age charm takes a back seat to necessity and convenience. People go to places like Oak Park and the Legends because there are brand names they recognize at attractive prices. I don't like it any more than you do, but there's your answer. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or get ready to play second fiddle.

workinghard 10 years, 3 months ago

Have you seen Metcalf Mall? Years ago it was the place to go to and a couple of years ago it was almost deserted. I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but we had a mall, downtown in fact. That should have been a perfect combo but it didn't work. What stikes me funny is when I talk to people in Olathe, they say they like to come to downtown Lawrence to shop. Lawrence kids say there is nothing to do in Lawrence, but the high school kids in Olathe and surrounding area say Lawrence is the place to go for fun. Maybe people just want what is on the other side of the fence. You know what else I noticed this week. A lot of your more expensive homes have no sidewalks so they don't have to shovel. Some streets only have sidewalks only on one side. Do they share sidewalk duties? You can shovel a path even if you don't have a sidewalk and it should be required also.

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

posessionannex (Anonymous) says:

"Maybe we should start playing home basketball games at the Sprint Center."

Why not? They have the open dates. Now there was a great bit of urban planning, based on "if we build it, they will come." And still no NBA or NHL team as promised, after the city got people to approve spending $250M.

scenebooster (Anonymous) says:

"Because Kansas City (KS or MO) is one hell of a lot more dangerous, dirty and urinated upon than anywhere in Lawrence (I'm from midtown KC, BTW)."

The difference being there's not much in Lawrence except in downtown, while all of KC's attractions are outside downtown. If you go down there at night it's a ghost town.

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 3 months ago

Oh, and losing retail dollars does not mean that we are UNDERbuilt and the only way to draw over 1.00 is to build more.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

Gas prices and cold weather have kept me shopping in Lawrence lately. Or online. Nearly all of my Christmas purchases were online.

akt2 10 years, 3 months ago

I can buy anything I want on the internet. Most times no shipping and no tax. Delivered to my door. I prefer the convenience of shopping that way often times. At times it is easier than dealing with crowds, parking and rude sales people. You can still get the name brands and the selection.

StirrrThePot 10 years, 3 months ago

"Topeka metro and kcmo/joco metro have been the shopping giants forever because they have the population to support such activity"

I agree with Topeka only to a point...I grew up there and can tell you that when Topeka built it's huge mall in 1987, it killed their downtown, the smaller mall they already had, and many strip malls. That whole area wround Wanamaker is now a chain store mecca, no real local flavor at all, yet so profitable nothing much else can be added in the rest of the city.

To this day Topeka has a great deal of wasted retail space and while they are trying to rebuild the downtown sector, it is slow and coming. It somewhat reminds me of a smaller downtown KC (before the Sprint Center) where the place just dies after 5pm on Fridays.

Just my two cents.

StirrrThePot 10 years, 3 months ago

Sort of off-track: I have not heard one person I know who has shopped at Nebraska Furniture Mart say their experience there was satisfactory. All have had some problem with delivery of the furniture (i.e. wrong item, wrong parts, no installation of appliances when they said they weould install, etc.).

We bought a TV from NFM and had no issues, but then again we actually went to the store to pick it up when it came in. We also got them to adjust their sale price because when we picked it up, it was 10 days after we purchased it and they had the same model on sale for less. They honored our request to reduce the price. :)

jumpin_catfish 10 years, 3 months ago

OK the bottom line is competion so if Lawrence won't compete it will lose, it's that simple. My teenage kids travel to Legends or Topeka for fun and shopping and I hear it all the time from them "nothing to do in Lawrence".

So Lawrence are going to compete or whine about your shrinking tax base. I'm betting on whining.

Roll with the big dogs or stay on the porch.

crackers 10 years, 3 months ago

Why does Lawrence continue to build more retail buildings. I see a lot of vacant buildings. For example the two vacancies in front of Best Buy.

smot 10 years, 3 months ago

The solution is a community that is welcoming to new ideas, new businesses and new people. Some communities are welcoming to change (Wyandotte County) and some communities are not (look in the mirror). The protests and legal fights against any business (Wal Mart, American Eagle Outfitters Distribution Center, on and on) that wants to set up shop in Douglas County has made it clear that we want to stay as we are. This has led to no growth in salaries and a very stagnant Douglas County economy. There is no hope that the malcontents who threaten every venture will shut up or behave more rationally.

LA_Ex 10 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I shop in KC and (sometimes) Topeka. Yes I will pick seeing a movie and having dinner at Legends over staying in town any day. The movie theater in town is terrible!!! The restaurants don't offer enough variety (ever try to get good Italian food in Lawrence?). Even the items in the big box stores like Home Depot are more expensive than the same store in Olathe or Topeka. There is nothing for the kids to do in this town. I mean nothing. If the city wants us to spend our money in town, give us something to spend it on. Figure out a way to keep residents in town. Other than groceries, all of our shopping is done out of town.

SpeedRacer 10 years, 3 months ago

I do most of my "needs" shopping in Lawrence, but when I want to have an enjoyable shopping experience, I head east. I go to Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cablela's or Bass Pro Shop (in Olathe) because those places are attractions in themselves. And, I will spend more money there because of the huge selection and reasonable prices. If the kids want to shop for fishing supplies, they beg to go to Bass Pro because they will enjoy the experience more than going to Walmart. Frankly,my beef with shopping in Lawrence (particularly for sporting goods) is that the market is aimed at KU and not the general public. High gas prices don't really affect my choices; it only takes 5 minutes more to get to Legends than it does to get to South Iowa.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

EXACTLY Speedracer....

I am not going outside Lawrence to get things i need, but for school shopping, and the like I make a day out of it. As i stated earlier there are NO stores that cater to plus sized women ( However i was told that Lane Bryant is moving a store here) My kids arent really off the rack sizes either. I go to the great mall for Steve and Barrys ( my kid is 8 and what better than to get shoes for him at less than $9 a pair) 31st and Iowa has empty buildings. What is at the old Tanger Outlet besides the DMV? Something needs to be done so the ones who are pissing and moaning can find something else to piss and moan about.

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 3 months ago

So let me get this straight, smot, Walmart is is going to raise average salaries in Lawrence? The "malcontents" you speak of are just those participating in the Democratic put that in your pipe and smoke it!

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

akt2 (Anonymous) says:

"I can buy anything I want on the internet. Most times no shipping and no tax. Delivered to my door. I prefer the convenience of shopping that way often times. At times it is easier than dealing with crowds, parking and rude sales people. You can still get the name brands and the selection."

Now as soon as they solve that little problem of internet dressing rooms for trying on clothes... :)

logrithmic (Anonymous) says:

"As I've indicated before on this blog, the key to Lawrence downtown regeneration will be a pedestrian mall between 6th Street and 11th Street with the through streets remaining open but with Mass closed. This would be like Boulder and Pasadena, CA. Of course to do this, we'd need to construct another parking garage, possibly two. But it sure would be nice to open the sidewalks to dining and entertainment."

There used to be such a place in Poughkeepsie, the Main Mall, named not-so-originally because they closed off a few blocks of Main Street in the center of downtown and made it a wonderful outdoor mall. Nice restaurants, decent shopping, some excellent nightclubs, and a great outdoor atmosphere with a large brick-paved (I think - been a long time) area to walk around. It had several advantages to downtown Lawrence, including being just a couple of blocks from a major highway through town, lots of nearby parking, and proximity to major attractions like the Civic Center. Unfortunately, it could not stem the flow from downtown to the suburbs, and after nearly 30 years, it went away in 2001, and Main Street is once again a thoroughfare.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Retail shopping as entertainment..... isn't there someting wrong with this picture.

Lawrence has been surrounded by retail,more selection and lower prices since day one. These places are not that far away. A helluva of a lot can be found in Lawrence,Kansas for local shoppers. A small town does not build retail in anticipation of attracting big city shoppers for that is not smart thinking. That is a formula for losing big bucks and bringing on high taxes.

Notice all the stores build downsize stores in Lawrence,Kansas.... there is economic logic behind that decision. Not enough retail dollars.

Lawrence should stick with Football,basketball, bring on more bike sporting events such as downhill racing and serious rock hopping,do two sidewalk sales twice a year(April &October), increase the number of art fairs and place them on Mass St in addition to Art in The Park, have spring and fall landscaping events on Mass that includes ALL of the farmers market vendors. Schedule these events on home game days as much as possible so visitors will have even more fun....and vendors too.

Last but certainly not least play all KU home games at home. Lawrence accomodates KU in a big way. All home games in Lawrence is not too much to ask!

It is going to be hard to make up for 25 years of bad city Chamber led management whose primary focus was a high tax bedroom community.

smot 10 years, 3 months ago


Wal Mart is just the most recent example. No one will dspute that Wal Mart does not pay high salaries but a core group of businesses are going to have to set up shop here before we see the higher paying businesses enter. In spite of this, the manufacturing jobs that may pay higher salaries will never be able to overcome the hurdles that you and the other malcontents will put up. Other communities have decided that they will welcome them with open arms....part of the democratic process. So if you are one of the ones complaining about the lack of businesses that will pay high salaries, look no further than your own mirror to see the reason why.

jumpin_catfish 10 years, 3 months ago

Compete or die! It's been that way for thousands of years, it will always be that way. Fight for your piece of the pie or go without. Simple!

BigAl 10 years, 3 months ago

I simply do not understand why a lot of you still live here. All I see is a bunch of whining and complaining. If things are that bad here, move. Seems simple to me. I happen to think Lawrence is a great town, warts and all. A lot of you work in KC and shop in KC but you live here? Why? No one is holding a concealed carry gun to your head. Go. Enjoy KC. Raise your kids in KC. Same for Topeka. Go. Please don't let those of us that want to be here get in your way.

craigers 10 years, 3 months ago

StirrrthePot, I have purchased Washer and Dryer (delivered), lighting, and a digital camera from NFM and had great experiences each time. I will say that some sales agents don't seem the brightest, but the ones we worked with made an effort to make us happy. My wife and I will be going back hopefully later in the year to get a new flat-panel TV there. I have no complaints there thus far.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

I think most all tax incentives are a bad deal considering it takes tax dollars to run a community. Therefore it seems small and medium size business would be the best targets. Small light industrial that does not come begging for tax dollar give aways. A local business that will keep money in town.

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

logrithmic (Anonymous) says:

"The pedestrian mall in Boulder was built in 1976. Thirty years later - still going strong. A college town has a lot of attractions that a non-college town. Students love the downtown area and many adults like to hang out with students."

Poughkeepsie is home to Marist, Vassar, Dutchess CC, The Culinary Institute of America, a branch of Adelphi, and there are a few more in nearby towns - I don't think it was a shortage of college kids that killed the Main Mall.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Comparing Programs across States

There are several dimensions across which tax abatement programs can differ, such as duration limitations, state or local awarding process, and program eligibility requirements.� In this section, three other measures are explored; one that deals with bearing the cost of lost tax revenue and two measures that many other states employ to ensure projects deliver promised benefits.

Dealing with Lost Revenue

Tax abatement programs may help attract jobs and investment, but it leaves the state and local jurisdictions with lost revenue.� This can negatively affect public entities like school districts and libraries that rely on both local taxes and state aid.� Michigan is one of only five states that include provisions to reimburse certain organizations for lost revenues. (10)

Claw-Back Provisions

There are two effective elements to tax abatement programs that Michigan has chosen not to utilize. The first is a claw-back provision, so named because it allows a state to take back money from a project if the project fails to produce jobs, tax base, etc.�� In the case of tax abatement, this would mean companies could face a reduction or elimination of tax breaks.� It helps shield the state from losing money on unsuccessful projects.� Currently, 14 of the 35 states include this provision in their abatement programs. (11)

Special Conditions for Abatement

States often include special conditions that must be met in order for tax abatements to take effect.� These requirements vary, but usually include minimum requirements for job creation or value or investment added. (12) These programs are similar to claw-back provisions in that they provide incentives for companies to deliver what is promised, and also allow the state to avoid losing tax revenue on a project that does not bring the expected benefits to the community.� Of the 35 states with abatement programs, 20 set these special conditions for businesses. (13)

Lack of enforcement reduce all of the above to one huge loss to a community.

workinghard 10 years, 3 months ago


I have bought a lot of stuff at Best Buy. Had to take back something once, no problem, gave me back my money. I usually get the extended warrenties for Ipods, cell phones, and computers. Believe me my family is rough on electronics and BB has lost money in most cases, especially with the Ipods. This may not be the experience with others, but it's worked great for me.

shockchalk 10 years, 3 months ago

StirrrrthePot, Add me to the list with Craigers. I have purchased furniture, appliances, and electronics from NFM since they opened and have been happy with every purchase. Many of the people I work with, all from Lawrence, have shopped there as well and love it. As far as the Legends are concerned, it is anything but an outlet mall. Great food, great atmosphere, and a wonderful movie theatre give families plenty to do. If you have small kids, take them to T-Rex's, it's great! There are some neat places downtown and a few good restaurants as well but you do have to keep an eye on some of the people. I have had people approach me and my small children in a very threatening manner, demanding money, not asking, demanding. And several of the people I work with have encountered the exact same thing. You add this to poor customer service throughout the city and it's hard to justify spending ALL of your dollars in Lawrence.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

I shop outside of Lawrence as I have stated several times today (man I'm posting a lot today) but i don't work outside of Lawrence. I am so sick of the if you work and shop there move there rhetoric of so many posters. No i will not, heck I am not even from KS and just because i choose to spend my money where I WANT to, i will not be made to feel bad for it. I don't feel bad about it. Get some effin' places here to keep my money here. All those who like shopping in Lawrence, kudos! I am happy for you.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 years, 3 months ago

This is news???? I guess the writers at the JW do not remember the great "Cornfield Mall" debate where the city commission at that time fought like tigers to keep the dreaded "cornfield mall" "downtown mall" and a number of other plans at bay. We got the "Riverfront Mall". A classless assemblege of factory outlet stores (read "Dumping Ground Outlets). We got the vaunted "Tanger Mall" Another "factory seconds, thirds, and lasts assemblege. And the real culprits were the downtown "Joe Collegeshop" and bar owners that did not want suburban development competition and our meek and mild commissioners fell all over themsleves to do battle with the horrid develpers of the proposed "Cornfield/Downtown malls. And where are the Riverfront/Tanger malls today? Well don't look for them, they failed like a lead balloon. And what of the dreaded suburban development??? Can you say Target..Wal-Mart, Pennys, Office Depot, Bed Bath and something (I forget), and numerous other merchants on south Iowa, the erstwhile former proposed location of an enclosed mall????

Well, folks this is what we get when we avoid our duty to be responsible in voting for city offices. Remember this the next city election and try to avoid putting such mush-minded individuals in office to screw up the city some more.

del888 10 years, 3 months ago

I havent' read all the posts, so this may be a repeat. But the problem is (as I see it) that there are not enough good paying jobs in Lawrence. So a LOT of people work in Topeka or KC. And it is easier to get you stuff on your lunch hour or right after work, so they buy it where they work. People would not buy out of town if they weren't already out of town. The City Council and County gurus need to attract high paying businesses instead of scaring them away.

pomegranate 10 years, 3 months ago

Did you ever drive down Mass Street fairly early in the morning, when no cars are parked there, and you can actually see how crappy the place looks? Dress the storefronts upa bit, Get rid of all the trashy posters and flyers that are everywhere. Get rid of the homeless and boozers. Close up Mass and make a great entertainment area. Outdoor eateries, things for the kids--lots of shady benches for us old raisins. Then maybe a lot of us will shop here and not over at the Legends, and NFM both of which I love.

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

del888 (Anonymous) says:

"But the problem is (as I see it) that there are not enough good paying jobs in Lawrence. So a LOT of people work in Topeka or KC."

So you're saying if the Lawrence businesses aren't being competitive price-wise with the surrounding area, we need to pay people more around here so they can afford to shop locally and reward that lack of competitiveness? There's a good plan.

If people made more money, what's to keep them from doing even more shopping out of town rather than shopping here where the prices are still higher?

del888 10 years, 3 months ago

snotajayhawk: You sure read a lot from a single post! All I'm saying is that if people could get a good paying job here in Larry, they wouldn't be computing to KC or Topeka. I'm not talking about out-of-town shopping trips - those will always occur. I'm talking about popping in to the grocery store or kwik shop to pick up something on the way home. I was a programmer for several years and had to work in KC & Topeka because these jobs were not available in Lawrence.

XTC 10 years, 3 months ago

Downtown Lawrence in not a shopping destination for me. Where can I buy a pair of Levi's or work shirt downtown? Gosh, I miss Litwins..........

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

del8up says:

"All I'm saying is that if people could get a good paying job here in Larry, they wouldn't be computing to KC or Topeka. I'm not talking about out-of-town shopping trips - those will always occur. I'm talking about popping in to the grocery store or kwik shop to pick up something on the way home."

Which, as I said, will accomplish very little. It's the big-ticket items that are making the difference. Every person that buys a washer and dryer from NFM makes a much bigger difference than an awful lot of people who buy their cigarettes on the way home from work. And a lot of those convenience buys that are made on the way home are made a lot closer to home - not too many people stop at QuikTrip in Kansas City to put a gallon of milk in the car for the ride back to Douglas County, they stop at the convenience store near their house.

Bob Forer 10 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't hang my hat on the Boulder pedestrian mall. While it has proven successful, similar urban renewal was effectuated in several Kansas towns in the sixties, among them, Parsons, Coffeyville, and Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas experiments all proved to be abysmal failures, and have since been torn down.

volunteer 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't know about this pull factor business. Just because one economist says it's so doesn't mean it's so.

However..I did spend forty bucks at West Ridge Mall today. I try to walk briskly for 30 minutes three times a week. The mall is well-suited for that. And once I'm there, might as well buy lunch and look around at the sales.

The Legends also rocks. Giant dinosaur restaurant for the children, an arcade for teens, a bowling alley-cocktail bar for the young adults. It is always freezing in that Pinup Bowl. Pay attention young fellas, there is a lot of eye candy in that place late at night.

Speaking of candy, downtown Lawrence has the best candy store in the area. Very fresh and they will special order.

Finally, a Korean friend told me that she has experienced racism at certain Mass Street stores. Again, just because she says it's so doesn't mean it's so. When she told me this I decided to keep an ear open for other complaints of a similar nature, and today I read a post from someone else who asserted the same thing.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 3 months ago

Why do people leave Lawrence to spend money? Lets see... what does Lawrence have...

Run down movie theater? Check Lack of a variety of high quality restaurants? Check Lack of a variety of retail stores? Check

kcwarpony 10 years, 3 months ago

Leaving Lawrence to go shopping is nothing new. Thirty-five years ago, my family would go to Topeka to shop at the Sears store at White Lakes Mall. It was a day trip everyone looked forward to. This town has never found a balance between catering to the KU students and fulfilling the needs of the permanent residents, be it shopping or employment opportunities.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

KCWARPONY that is the smartest thing i have read all day and i have read ALL the posts on this topic.

FuttBucker (Anonymous) says: People don't come to Lawrence to shop, they just come here to shoot people: If you want some hippie clothes and over priced antiques, well, downtown Lawrence is your place! I have a few words for you... "You are an idiot"

pisafromthewest 10 years, 3 months ago

Groanmaggot (Anonymous) says:

"Banks will fail. Houses will fall. And the wealthy will not care at all."

Uh, okay, because the poor people would be affected more than the rich people by failing banks and expensive homes losing value? Sure, makes sense.

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

kcwarpony (Anonymous) says:

"This town has never found a balance between catering to the KU students and fulfilling the needs of the permanent residents, be it shopping or employment opportunities."

Much the same situation Baldwin is in now, torn between kissing up to the students (and recent graduates who buy houses and stay around) and taking care of the families who have lived there for generations. Hasn't been pretty, and it'll only get worse.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

Off dont you know that there arent any jobs in Lawrence

Joe Hyde 10 years, 3 months ago

It's true that Lawrence doesn't have everything that every shopper wants. But no city can claim that it does. People always have and always will travel to other cities to shop, just for the curiosity, excitement and newness factors if nothing else.

A lot of posters here have complained about the lack of quality clothing selection found in Lawrence stores. Maybe they are into "super-high quality" clothing instead of just "regular good quality". Regular good quality, I think Lawrence stores have got that covered pretty well.

A few weeks ago I bought a nice pair of dress shoes at Penney's, then went across the road to Kohl's and bought dress shirts, ties, slacks. I've always liked Penney's but had never tried Kohl's. Well, Kohl's is pretty nice, too. I got good quality stuff at great bargain prices at both these stores.

Of course, for the stuff I really love wearing there's Sunflower downtown.

If the most-often-cited "clothing complaint" is that Lawrence stores don't sell clothes that fit REAL BIG people, well, that problem has less to do with Lawrence's retail variety and more to do with the dangerously unhealthy eating and exercise habits of these complainants. Lose some weight and clothes sold by Lawrence merchants will fit right and you'll look cool wearing the stuff.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

When it comes to available retail dollars some think Lawrence is more than it is... it's not here and never has been here. More retail shops or malls do not increase the availability of local retail dollars. Either they are here or they are not.... obviously they are not.

Spreading more retail throughout the small town does not promote economic growth instead we have economic displacement. The governing bodies are living in denial.

Eudora and and Desoto are repeating what Lawrence has been doing and will find themselves in the same economic situation as Lawrence. Too many homes = higher taxes.

grimpeur 10 years, 3 months ago

"I live and work in Lawrence and I avoid Downtown like the plague. No place to park..."

You have got to be freakin kidding me.

Laziest dang people I've ever seen. The laziest.

Start there, follow the crumbs to the couch...there's your problem. Sad.

kslissa 10 years, 3 months ago

I agree with riverat. You can't please everyone all the time. I lived in Lawrence for the first 47 years of my life, but moved to Shawnee, KS, 4 years ago because that is where I have worked for the last 11 years. I commuted for 6 years and decided to move because the housing market was more affordable. I still frequent a few businesses downtown, i.e. Waxman Candles and Sunflower, when visiting family and friends. When I was growing up, downtown was pretty dead after 5:00 pm, with the exception of a few bars and the drug store. In the 60's we always went to Topeka's White Lakes Mall to get school clothes. Of course, back then there was no South Lawrence, except the old Holiday Inn. Lawrence's downtown caters to the students and tourists and always will. That's just a fact of life. So sad that many good stores that were once downtown are gone. Someone referenced Litwin's. Great store.

Time for new leadership!!!

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

I love living in Lawrence. I love that it takes me less than 10 minutes to drive to work; that my gym is within walking distance of my home and my job; that I can walk to a grocery store, a dry cleaner, a pharmacy, a hair dresser, several restaurants/bars and a liquor store and a numerous places of worship.

Lawrence is a great place to live and work.

Thats_messed_up 10 years, 3 months ago

I think once we get the best sales tax rate in the state we'll be good to go. (highest is best right?)

Midwestmom, thanks for the tip on the skating rinks- we'll be taking our 4 and 6 year olds there soon in between house hunting in OOOOOOOOOLATHAAAAA.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

Some choose where they buy their goods and sundries based on the ambience offered by, or employment practices or political affiliation of, the retailer.

Politics 101

Others shop where they can get the most for the least amount of money.

Econ 101.

Sigmund 10 years, 3 months ago

Those that work out of town are tired of bringing our MUCH higher paychecks back to Lawrence then being treated like crap by retailers that close a 5:30PM and then charge higher prices and then get new fire sprinklers paid for at taxpayer expense only to be lectured to by the local sock puppets determined to calm traffic till it comes to a complete halt and calling us immoral for saving a few bucks and some time by buying where we work and paying a lower sales tax to boot.

Y'all can bite me. I and many other high income residents will buy where we like. You force us to support local businesses by giving our tax dollars to the rich downtown landlords so they can improve their private property, waste $1,500,000 per year every year on empty diesel buses, but you can't force us to spend our money here.

Raise your sales taxes and play your political games. You got no good jobs other than KU and the City, you can't raise taxes forever and you will be forced to cut budgets or go bankrupt. For the 7th smartest city in the US your ignorance of basic economics is staggering.

misseve 10 years, 3 months ago

I love the comments about from the peanut gallery. Lets see if i did start looking like i didnt know what a meal was, there is still no decent place to shop unless i wanted to look like EVERYONE that shops in those stores. My son, is 8 can wear a 8 slim in pants, but needs a 12 because he is so tall. So what is your asinine comment about him eh? Lawrence caters to the thin and stupid ( sorry if you are thin and or stupid) and as far as quality, is there places that sell GREAT quality clothing here that wont cost me my first born? Lawrence as i have said for years caters to the students and their parents and could care less about those of us who CHOOSE to live, work and shop here. Its a nice day out... i think im going to the Legends.

Bryan Moore 10 years, 3 months ago

Good luck trying to compete with NFM. I come back to the area (Tongie) 2 or 3 times a year and have bought something from NFM just about every time since they opened. I picked up a table and chairs set during Christmas this past year. I can buy something there and drive it two days back and it's still cheaper than buying furniture here in Phoenix. To be fair though I always stop at Yellow Sub if at all possible and usually buy some KU garb downtown and grab a beer at Jonny's. I love Lawrence and would love to return to live someday, but I am resigned to the fact I will not be able to untill I'm at the point I no longer need a job because I'll never find one (in bridge engineering) there. I did notice that the (side) streets in town have really gotten bad and the sidewalks look like obstacle courses (mostly from heaving and cracking), too bad. Kind of like seeing that beautiful cheerleader you dated in High School is now 75lbs and and addicted to meth. Just kind of makes your heart sink.

Dixie Jones 10 years, 3 months ago

you know seriously as a some what a outsider of lawrence ( i live in Jefferson co) but do almost all my shopping in lawrence........ if i were to be someone who was looking to moving into this area kc lawrence etc and i came here and read this blog and all the wonderful input everyone is putting here i would not move to lawrence ..... seriously you are the ones who live in lawrence no one knows the area better than you, you may have just saved some people from making a huge mistake of moving into town. so your blogs do help people no matter what some say..

BigPrune 10 years, 3 months ago

The people who don't want good paying jobs are the same people who don't want retail in our city. To rid our city of these parasites, I'd be willing to pay an extra 1 cent per dollar sales tax so these people can set up a commune in some green field far away from our town, so they can live off the land without running water or automobiles - just like they want the rest of us to live.

chocolateplease 10 years, 3 months ago

I'm not sure the solution, but one thing I know is that the "buy local" theme is not only ineffective, it is downright annoying, and I've had a similar conversation with friends of ours who feel the same. Lawrence businesses need to stand on their merits to attract business instead of goading us into their stores based on loyalty to the town in order to line their pockets. Many do that, and they are successful, but many don't. It feels like we're being badgered to spend money here when the selection is small, the prices are above average, and service is quite variable. I hate that campaign. Everytime I hear "buy local!", it makes me want to go to Johnson county and spend money. At least they can stand on their selection, prices, and service.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

So let's see if Lawrence copies what everybody else is doing and all places are the same how will that do Lawrence any good? People will no have reason to come to Lawrence cuz it's right out their back door.

Considering Lawrence does not have anywhere near the amount of retail dollars as does Wyandotte,JOCO,Shawnee or KCMO why would retailers have any reason to locate in Lawrence,Kansas? Do you all think they are stupid?

It is stupid to pretend that Lawrence has the same amount of retail dollars. Lawrence would be better off to stop pretending and be Lawrence,Kansas instead of producing small town sprawl,raising taxes and increasing user fees. Continuing down the road of small town sprawl only increases the wealth of developers and their financial supporters yet increases the cost of living due to economic displacement and is certainly not fiscally responsible.

Chevy_Hotrodder 10 years, 3 months ago

I was born and raised in Lawrence but six years ago I moved to a much more affordable Jefferson County and my husband and I hate visiting Lawrence. Our last experience was terrible and involved your wonderful KU students. As we rode our Harley down Mass Street, three male students attempted to kick our bike over as they jaywalked across the street. That was last year and honestly the last time I will ever visit Downtown again. I moved to Jefferson County to get away from the rude, disrespectful and noisy students and from the congested streets with silly roundabouts. Also the damn public transit that stops in the weirdes places in the middle of the road. The city REALLY should have thought to make bus pull-offs at the stops BEFORE they created the transit system. Another agenda item that failed? The SLT! I certainly don't condone building over the Baker Wetlands, and the city should not assume that Haskell would just let them build. If the city would have been smart about this we would already have a COMPLETE by-pass. As a bedroom community, this completion would've been beneficial for the majority of city residents. But no, the city is worried that they would lose out on sales revenue. Get real. I haven't driven down 23rd street since I graduated Lawrence High. Why? It's dangerous and it's the thoroughfare out of the city so everybody drives down it. Don't forget that there's about 6 business entrances crammed into every 100 feet of road.

I don't find Lawrence to be an attractive town for young couples with small children (what are they going to do with them? Take them to a bar downtown?), the retired or business professionals. It's great for commuters and those who like to open bank accounts, since there are multiple ones on every corner! I choose to spend my dollars in KC (Legends, The Great Mall or the big-box stores on Shawnee MIssion Parkway) or Topeka because not only do I have selection but the sales people are friendly. Even with high gas prices, I would rather drive to spend my dollars where the employees treat me with respect and are grateful that I am shopping there. There is something to be said about shopping in a store run by adults and not by 20somethings still in college who don't give a rats behind about you.

Lawrence does have it's own uniqueness, but it can't be unique forever. At 100,000+ residents, Lawrence needs to grow past it's hippie uniqueness and recognize that it's a growing CITY, not a community or town. This city lacks a living wage, career-oriented businesses, affordable single-family housing and effiecient routes of transit, just to name a few. If it's problems aren't recognized and dealt with, Lawrence will just become another empty downtown Topeka. I mean, you guys already have 2 empty malls, and your own little Wanamaker on South Iowa.

Kookamooka 10 years, 3 months ago

There was only one post in 201 that addressed the real issue here. Rents for retail are too high. That's right, Compton and his cronies have driven the free market over the cliff and into the abyss.

1. Little or no competition among landlords downtown is resulting in out of sight rents that mean the small business isn't able to make enough money to stay open.

Many of our family friendly destinations of years gone by have died due to development on S. Iowa (remember putt putt and the dollar movie theater? We used to have a roller rink!) AND greedy landlords (remember when this town had three kids clothing stores and a children's book shop! High rents and landlords comfortable with empty storefronts drove them out. Nothing ever went into Children's Orchard next to tellers-but they did remodel the upstairs into an overpriced chi chi loft. The loft is what satisfied the landlord.)

2. Discover why these developers can have empty retail all over town without consequences! Sure I see the for lease sign at Bucky's right now but it's just a ruse. Compton will keep the rent too high for anyone to rationally consider opening a restaurant so he can write it off. I think Merrill is right when he/she says it's tax related and beneficial to them. It isn't beneficial to the community so what can we legally do to prevent this "blight abuse"? What do other cities do? Increase competition!

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Johnson Bros Furniture Store a long time provider of high quality USA furniture at competitive pricing was forced out of business when their location was bought and the new owner increased their rent beyond reason.

jonny_quest 10 years, 3 months ago

The primary cause of Lawrence's problems- (low paying jobs, high taxes, exhorbitant real estate prices, boon-doggled city projects, etc.) can all be traced back in one form or another to a small group of local family businesses. During the past 25 to 40 years a handful of family real estate firms, construction firms, banks, and a few others have raped this town repeatedly with city government help. In some cases, these family members were the city government.

Keith 10 years, 3 months ago

50yearresident: "I get really nervous after 1 1/2 hours and have to rush back to my car to prevent getting a parking ticket. "

OMG it's 2 dollars, if that makes you nervous you should stay home and recycle aluminum cans.

Kookamooka 10 years, 3 months ago


No one writes off rent. That is considered earned income to the landlord. What Compton writes off is loss. When no one rents your building, all of the things you mentioned in the post are written off as losses. If you have high income from other ventures (stocks in oil companies, other successful ventures in other, more lucrative cities for example) then you need some "dog's" in your portfolio to balance it all out.

Obviously, Marion is not from a wealthy family.

Kookamooka 10 years, 3 months ago

Marion says: Again: "I was trying to tell the readers that as a landlord you cannot write off rents that you do not recieve. that's all."

Kook says: Again:

You are insinuating that if he gets rent from a tenant, he can write it off.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

If Lawrence shoppers exhaust their efforts meaning cannot find what they want then why not shop elsewhere? There is no way that Lawrence has the retail dollar power to demand more retail. In fact Lawrence is better off living with the fact that shoppers look elsewhere rather than further promote economic displacement. Lawrence shoppers have been shopping KCMO/JOCO or Topeka forever. This is not new stuff.

For those who moved here or are thinking of moving here yet love to shop, Lawrence, Kansas cannot meet your demand and may cause depression. It is neither frugal,practical,prudent nor fiscally responsible to even think of meeting that "shop till you drop" level of availablity.

There is a lot to be found for everyday living in this town without shopping elsewhere appliances included.

Further development of new bedrooms also takes Lawrence further on the down the road of higher costs of living for this reason: "If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch," Scruggs said. "But with increased numbers of houses/residential you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality."

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Retail drain: Lawrence shoppers taking their dollars to Wyandotte County

But will their boom mean our bust?

Absolutely ......If our governing bodies continue to approve more and more bedrooms. Higher taxes will be the end result and warehouses will not fill the gap. If every hard worker in Lawrence is not drawing $17.50 per hour or better then what's up? This is not average wage we're talking REAL wages.

Lawrence may not die but become the Aspen of the plains meaning too expensive to live for low wage workers and/or chasing Lawrence natives out of town.

shasta 10 years, 3 months ago

I love The Legends! Lawrence offers NOTHING for shopping or entertainment. Even the Home Depot sucks--it doesn't carry anything. The only movie theater in town sucks too. The most uncomfortable theater I've ever had the displeasure of sitting in for over two hours. Went there once, and won't go back. I hit the theater at the Legends, the pinup bowl, all the GREAT restaurants at Legends and Village West!! I have to admit, I moved to Lawrence with fond memories of my college years here, and didn't really check it out before uprooting myself to move back "home". After I get here, to my dismay, I find that in the past 20 years, Lawrence has gone from a wonderful clean and quaint college town, to basically a filthy run down little town that offers literally nothing in terms of a decent job, or a decent place to live---unless you can afford a few hundred thousand for a small newer home. Eventually, I will pry end up in Johnson County.....I've already known of 3 families to have moved there. They say you have to be "rich" to live in JoCo, but I find the opposite is true. For the same money, you can buy a really nice large home with a finished BASEMENT in a beautiful neighborhood with excellent schools for the same price you sell your much smaller, much older home in a Lawrence neighborhood overrun with slumlords. What on earth happened to this town? IT'S SOOOO SAD.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

The eastside of Lawrence which in this context is east of Iowa the city was logically planned and designed. When the consultants Placemakers were in town for a week they did give a thumbs up to the older neighborhoods and downtown. The streets interact well with each other and the character of the older architecture was well received not to mention the choice of sidings.

The cost of new housing was inflated by the industry which unfortunately the buyers supported which may also have been somewhat supported by sub prime lenders. How odd to have the so called conservative element stimulating inflation hmmmmmm.

Unless someone is in the market for lumber Cottins Hardware is an excellent place to do business, Customer service is very good. Cottins can also special order most any quality power tool at decent pricing.

The new theater is very uncomfortable unless the first row of seats is available.

The bottom line is Lawrence shoppers have been shopping kcmo/joco or Topeka forever. This is not new stuff. Some local developers,focus on a bedroom community,small town sprawl and no regulations mandating a variety of economic impact studies has in the end created financial problems for a once solid college town economy.

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