Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lawrence retail task force proposes database for local retailers

February 9, 2011


There are databases out there that will tell you what brand of pants Lawrence men between the ages of 40 and 55 years of age are most likely to purchase.

“It is kind of 1984-ish,” Tom Kern, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, told city commissioners on Tuesday.

It also might be the kind of thing city commissioners are willing to spend money on in the future. Maybe.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting received a report from the city’s Retail Task Force that recommended the city pursue creating a detailed database that would provide important statistics about the Lawrence market to local retailers.

“This is the same type of data that is used by national retailers, quite honestly,” said Commissioner Rob Chestnut, who also was the chair of the task force. “We think this might help level the playing field for local retailers.”

Commissioners agreed to have the task force put together a request for proposals that would allow consultants to give the city price estimates for creating and maintaining such a database. But commissioners also said the project would have to compete for funding against a host of other priorities in the city’s 2012 budget. The database is expected to cost anywhere from $10,000 to more than $50,000.

The task force — comprised of local retailers, chamber leaders and commercial real estate professionals — also recommended the city explore facilitating joint advertising opportunities for retailers, Kansas University, the chamber, Downtown Lawrence and others. It also recommends that the city consider funding a new position — perhaps within the chamber — that would be dedicated to helping local retailers expand and prosper. But the report specifically says a new position shouldn’t try to recruit retailers from outside the community since that could create questions about whether local government is spending money to attract competitors to local businesses.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners:

• Directed staff members to hold a public meeting with residents of the Miller/Wells Acres neighborhood about annexing that rural neighborhood into the city limits. The meeting likely will be in March, and would be the first of many steps needed to move forward on annexation.

• Agreed to rezone 51 acres of property at the southwest corner of N 1800 Road and E 1000 Road to general industrial. Commissioners previously had given preliminary approval to the rezoning. Commissioners approved it on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Aron Cromwell opposed. He had wanted it to be rezoned to a lesser industrial category after several neighbors previously expressed concerns.

• Approved a $394,170 contract with Bartlett & West Engineers to design the reconstruction of Iowa Street from Harvard Road to the Irving Hill Overpass.


UNIKU 7 years, 2 months ago

Market research is something every biz owner should be doing on their own. Why is the city and joke of a chamber just helping retailers. What about plumbers, electricians, accountants and every other biz owner or entrepreneur in town?

vuduchyld 7 years, 2 months ago

There is a lot of power in co-operation between businesses when it comes to market research. More than 95% of ALL businesses do $500K in revenues or less annually. If they each try to spend 2-10% of their revenues on market research, they will probably go broke before it helps them much.

It is not at all uncommon for economic development folks to offer this type of service. It's honestly probably MORE uncommon for the data NOT to be available. The trick is the implementation. I agree that it would be strange to offer it to retailers only, but I don't suspect that will happen. I would also say it might be tricky to fund a position through the Chamber if only Chamber members would be eligible for that kind of service.

somebodynew 7 years, 2 months ago

Do we still have a DLI organization???? If so, why are they not paying or cooperating with the Chamber to purchase this. This is certainly NOT going to help the taxpayers whose money they are suggesting be used.

CHKNLTL 7 years, 2 months ago

Because the people in the commission that own businesses want to use taxpayer funding to conduct market research for their own personal benefit. DUH! None of these persons are a plumber, electrician, accountant, nor do they consider themselves to be like every other biz owner in town. and don't bother calling them entrepreneurs. they are swindlers and spendthrifts.

BigPrune 7 years, 2 months ago

$10,000 - $50,000 for something most retailers looking for a city to expand too already have? Get the stuffed shirts at city hall to make Lawrence business friendly and no more studies will be needed. It's OUR poor reputation as being one of the most restrictive communities in the entire nation to businesses is our problem.

Eric Neuteboom 7 years, 2 months ago

No doubt BP! As usual, they spend valuable time and money spinning their wheels. All they do is treat the symptoms instead of the disease. If this is in fact such a valuable commodity, then they - retailers - should pay for it themselves! And who honestly comes to a meeting and says "it'll be $10-50,000, more or less." Anywhere but in Lawrence they'd be laughed out of the room. Our city is run by morons.

chuggy23 7 years, 2 months ago

The commissioners want to know why they are losing money to places like johnson county and wyandotte, because they have real stores people want to shop at. They also dont have a bunch of homeless people asking more money. I admit, I would rather drive 30 minutes just to have a better selection and scenery.

pace 7 years, 2 months ago

It is so stale to not be able to know what a store has for sale or even who they hope to sell to. I am an old woman and even I know Lawrence marketing is stuck in an old Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie of poster ads. The downtown Lawrence Association has been handled like a mini jaycee's meeting. Yes, the retailers should develop a database and the various organizations to promote business should not only develop the base but learn how to use it interactively. Want economic development, train Lawrence retailers to e-market, include educating Lawrence customers to learn to shop. In no way should this data be considered a static one time photo. make it a discussion between sellers and buyers!

cowboy 7 years, 2 months ago

Complete waste of oxygen here. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Downtown is quaint , do I need anything from downtown , no. Would I look for a deal downtown , no. What do I want when I shop , selection , fair price , and convenience. None of these are available downtown. I'll go to KC or online.

This approach by small retailers is noble but simply an epic fail. It's like trying to win the Derby with a mini horse. Your too slow , too small. Do something the big box can't do or start encouraging some big box stores to come to Lawrence instead of creating an obstacle course which is our current and past practice.

timeforachange 7 years, 2 months ago

If the current retailers aren't smart enough to understand the market in which they work, then they are too stupid to use some expensive database of useless information. Every market is different so using this database with information gathered from who knows where is a waste of money and time. Just another example of the Chamber trying to implement a useless and costly outdated tool. Unless the data is constantly being updated, and I do mean constantly, the information this system would provide is already outdated before it even gets loaded into the system. And how unique are markets? Do you think Lawrence and Topeka would be willing to use the same database? Two markets of roughly the same size within 30 miles of each other, so you would think so. But no! As I said two markets completely different, so sharing the same database would be all wrong. Listen Tom Kern and the rest of you suit wearing wanttobe's you stick with your luncheons and the Taste Of Lawrence. Anything above that is way over your head! If anyone of you knew anything about actually running a business you would be doing that instead of shaking the hands and patting the back of those that do.

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