Local retail

Competition for shoppers’ dollars will only increase, and local merchants and officials must meet the challenge.

August 26, 2011


This past Sunday’s Journal-World story that gave a thorough report on the ownership of business properties along the downtown section of Massachusetts Street sends a clear signal that these property owners and Lawrence city commissioners should be able to plan and develop a superior and visionary business district.

The report showed approximately 70 to 75 percent of the businesses are owned by local residents. In past years, a greater percentage had been owned by individuals or businesses located outside of Lawrence.

Local owners and local lawmakers should be able to figure out what is in the best interests of the property-business owners and the city. In past years, when out-of-town ownership was more prevalent, it was more difficult for all parties to agree on projects to enhance the business district, whether it was for the development of off-street parking lots, diagonal parking, benefit districts or other improvements.

Lawrence has an attractive downtown business district with tolerable numbers of vacant storefronts. Over the years, city commissioners have dug in their heels in protecting the city’s “central business district” and perhaps this has helped regional markets such as The Legends in Wyandotte County attract businesses that otherwise would have considered Lawrence as a location for one of their stores.

This is past tense, but hopefully serves as a lesson as to what Lawrence must do to be competitive with other shopping areas in the region and keep as many sales as possible in Lawrence rather than losing them to other cities.

One of the major questions is whether the central business district will be able to attract high-volume retail stores that require easy access, convenient parking and preferably one-level shopping areas. The Sixth to 11th Mass. Street business district is landlocked and it is doubtful if it will be expanded east or west. Therefore, will this area continue to serve as a concentration of small specialty shops, restaurants and bars with large retail stores located in outlying areas along South Iowa Street, 23rd Street and Sixth Street and, to a lesser degree, along Wakarusa Street?

Competition for Lawrence retail dollars will become more intense in the years to come and how local merchants and city officials handle this challenge is critical to Lawrence in many ways.

Nothing is guaranteed.


William McCauley 6 years, 9 months ago

The biggest problem in this town is how much of a PITA it is to try to open any business in this community, the mars plant is a great example of that..... done in two months vs the Lawrence & Dillon's deal still chugging along 11 mos later. Then we have the other issues of driving off other types on inflow of outside cash, such as driving off major events (off school season) like the Wakarusa music festival and then passing a noise ord for the whole county that's in place 24 -7. Instead of building on what little assets the city had to cater to such events, like building a concert stage and pavilion in Burcham park to host a number of community events aimed a drawing more people to our downtown district, no we give it away to KU for a fancy boat house.

Instead of working with in the law of the federal aviation laws and allowing a local start up company to use the tax payer funded @ 11.5 million dollars airport, no we get unlimited harassment and city sponsored harassment for that last 3 yrs. aimed at keep us out and off the property, the city has spent a more then a few hours and dollars fighting this, it's all good the FAA will be here to explain a few things soon.... Point is: People come this town and try to open businesses and pay taxes, hire people, market to Topeka, KC and the other 9 counties and western Mo trying to get people to come to this town to spend money at our business, and those people will need lunch, a tank of gas, might even buy some of that hippy dippy crap from your beloved and dying little downtown, some would get a hotel and buy more then lunch. However our lovely city would choose to cry in your news paper regularly about how no one comes here to shop anymore, yet at the same time bending over backwards to install as many road blocks as possible to new business locating here, and you people wonder why no one wants to come here to do business or shop here anymore. It's no surprise Farm Aid & Kansasrocka (sp) fest were both held in Wy co. Because Lawrence was to stupid to build on it's reputation as a music mecca for the last 30 yrs. before they killed it. How much money do you think was spent in Wy co and the area around there in just those two events, and we won't even get into the moving of the big BB FB games, more cash flow (and lots of it) not coming to our town!

That's some kind of leadership! Bet they learned all this over at Leadership Lawrence!

Jimo 6 years, 9 months ago

The Mars plant deal took 11 months to work out - not 2.

lunacydetector 6 years, 9 months ago

since all of downtown is over valued, except for a few.......for some unknown reason, why not have downtown become a special taxing district to off set the high property taxes? kansas sampler was accidentally over charging sales tax for months until a customer caught it....maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal to charge more, and the county can give some relief

ralphralph 6 years, 9 months ago

I would hope the Government will stop "picking winners and losers" by handing out special deals and secret taxes.

lucky_guy 6 years, 9 months ago

"I would hope the Government will stop "picking winners and losers" by handing out special deals and secret taxes. " So you think that Cabela's should be a loser? I'm fine with that if you can get the Wyandotte co commission to agree. The Gov picks winners and losers every day. In Browbackistan it will just get worse.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.