Archive for Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Town Talk: Gregg Tire sells out on Sixth Street; closing Vermont Street for Farmers’ Market mentioned; maybe Lawrence’s retail numbers better than thought

March 15, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• A longtime Lawrence tire dealer has moved out of the city to make way for a national franchise. The Gregg Tire Co. location at 4661 W. Sixth St. has sold and is now a Big O’s Tires. The changeover took place last week. Cory Mitchell is a co-owner of the franchise and said he’s excited about getting into the market. He said he attended KU about 12 years ago and has been looking for a business opportunity that would bring him back to the city. The Big O’s store kept the Gregg Tire work force, Mitchell said, and is looking to add three to four other employees to allow it to expand some of its service offerings. Mitchell said Big O’s will continue to be a Goodyear tire dealer, but also will sell 18 other brands of tires. Gregg Tire Co. kept its stores in Topeka and Kansas City. Gregg has been one of the longtime tire dealers in Northeast Kansas. It was founded in 1917, according to the company’s website.

• Here is something to keep an ear out for as leaders design the expanded Lawrence Public Library: Closing down parts of Vermont Street to accommodate the Lawrence Farmers' Market. I’ve heard that idea from a couple of people now who have been sitting in on design meetings related to the library. One of them was Bruce Flanders, director of the library. Flanders said he wasn’t sure how much traction the idea ultimately would get but said “that’s the latest thinking I’ve heard.” The concept is that the Farmers' Market could move from its current downtown locations and be held in a plaza area outside the library. That plaza area could include some restrooms and access to utilities, both of which are limited at the current spots. But whether there would be enough space to accommodate all the booths has been a question. That has led to the idea of closing down Vermont Street in front of the library to give the market more space. Several logistical details will have to be worked out, but it will be interesting to see how much talk the idea receives.

• The health of the city’s retail industry has gotten some attention over the past year with the city appointing a task force on the subject, and City Commission candidates bringing up the need for Lawrence residents to do a better job of shopping local. One of the key numbers that gets looked at is the city’s retail pull factor. That’s just a fancy way of measuring how the city’s per capita retail spending stacks up to the statewide average per capita retail spending.

Lawrence’s hasn’t stacked up too well lately. The latest pull factor for Lawrence was 0.99, meaning our per capita retail spending is about 1 percent below the statewide average. That number has been seen as bad news because back in 2006 the city’s per capita retail spending was 12 percent above the statewide average. A big question has been why Lawrence hasn’t been keeping pace.

Recently released census numbers may hold a clue. As we’ve reported, the census says Lawrence’s population is quite a bit less than what City Hall officials have been assuming. (Also below what the Census Bureau had been projecting.) Well, those numbers play a big role in determining the city’s pull factor, since it is a per capita number. The state’s department of revenue was using the larger population estimates to determine the city’s pull factor. So, I decided to see what the pull factor would look like if the smaller population totals from the Census were used. The result was that Lawrence’s pull factor jumped from 0.99 to 1.09. In other words, those numbers show Lawrence still has per capita retail spending that is 9 percent above the statewide average. That’s still a decline from 2006, but it is a decline that can be more easily explained. It will be interesting to see what the state’s next round of pull factors show for Lawrence. Those numbers probably will be released in August.


Bud Stagg 7 years, 1 month ago

Big O's should start over with new staff. Went to Gregg Tire twice last year and once they forgot to balance a tire, the other they did not do the promised rotation. There won't be a third try.

Bud Stagg 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes Seeker I did get it corrected. why would I go back when they are 0-2? It would be one thing if it was a hard item to fix, these were easy and just a lazy, poor job. In fact they argued about the rotation, I knew they hadn't done the job because teh front left had a mark on it. it was still there. They wanted to charge me for nothing.

ralphralph 7 years, 1 month ago

Big O is really Sumitomo ... giant Japanese conglomerate. That sucking sound is money leaving town never to return. That other sucking sound is more money leaving town.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe if Goodyear made a decent tire and didn't charge out the wazoo for them, they'd sell more of them. I've been really happy with my Sumitomos. The Goodyears that were there before, not so much. 'course I mail-order tires and install them myself, so the only thing I need a tire shop for is balancing.

timetospeakup 7 years, 1 month ago

Agreed. It's been a few years, but at the time I had a truck with about 40k miles on it and Gregg Tire told me it needed a LOT of front-end work, they weren't sure how I could hang onto the wheel while I drove!

Truck was fine. I drove it for another 55k miles before I traded it in, without any repairs.

slowplay 7 years, 1 month ago

My last 3 sets of tires have come from Gregg's. Excellent service, reasonable price. I had a slow leak they couldn't find and they replaced the tire free of charge even though it about 2,000 miles on it.

countrygirl 7 years, 1 month ago

We don't go anywhere but D & D for tires anyway.

countrygirl 7 years, 1 month ago

I know they do brakes and tune ups. Not really sure aside from that. Most things on the car the hubby does. If he can't handle it we either go see Jim at D&D or see who they recommend. And I just said we don't go anywhere but D&D for tires. No mention of other services.

Bassetlover 7 years, 1 month ago

Chad - Any update on the reopening of First Watch? They are still closed. Miss it soooo much!

somedude20 7 years, 1 month ago

Yeah Chad-dog, what is the word with the Vermont St BBQ. Thanks you rock (well, pebble, but you can still roll)

Chad Lawhorn 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm trying to get in touch with their corporate offices to get an update. For those of you who haven't kept up, here's what we reported about First Watch's closing earlier this month:

LogicMan 7 years, 1 month ago

If they've been closed this long, the chances are fading. But maybe someone will come through; I'm sure they'd be interested in hearing from you if running a business like that is your cup of tea.

ralphralph 7 years, 1 month ago

I've eaten at First Watch, and can't imagine what you're missing so badly. Is there something they were doing that you can do more quickly and inexpensively at home?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

We're being scolded for doing the best that can be done with what has been forced down our throats. Don't blame the consumers who BTW never asked for any of the retail nonsense. BLAME the real estate industry!

Lawrence is within reasonable driving distance of several retail experiences which the real estate movers and shakers fail to admit. Lawrence got bad planning and management instead.

Lost retail establishments:

Those who do not "believe" the market is over built or say we should not be concerned about concerns of an over built market should not be elected. That is reckless economics. This community can no longer afford economic displacement that which is the result of an over built community.

"Free Market Thinking" = Laissez Faire government = unfriendly to business and taxpayers

Every community has only so many retail dollars to work with no more no less. Once the markets become saturated every retail operation is then pulling retail dollars from the same pie. It's like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. More new retail operations do NOT magically create more retail dollars..... never has never will.

Once the market is over saturated all retail operations suffer and so do we taxpayers because these new operations are NOT paying their own way.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

What retail stores has Lawrence lost? Abercrombie and Fitch Borders Talbots Liz Claiborn The Riverfront Mall shops Tanger Mall shops Eddie Bauer numerous restaurants K-Mart There are NEW vacancies that have never been filled Lands End at Sears Lawrence cannot support a camera shop Arensberg Shoes Johnson Bros Furniture Everything but ICE what have I forgotten is more like it....

Over stored = unfriendly to business ======================================================== The “Free Market” has spoken and has been speaking for a few years. ======================================================== High Rent and Sales tax districts = unfriendly to business

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't confuse him with facts. This is the same cut and paste he uses over and over...

dogsandcats 7 years, 1 month ago

Big O? Tee hee. So they are "full service"? You'll be happy at the end.

irvan moore 7 years, 1 month ago

if flanders is for it i'm against it, haven't seen the community win on one of his ideas yet.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 1 month ago

I could be wrong, but think Big O tires are a Nebraska outfit which made big. In other words a little rural company who went big.

govh8ter 7 years, 1 month ago

K's tires is the best place for tires in lawrence, and border bandito has a list of places that they have outlasted!

ralphralph 7 years, 1 month ago

Border Bandito ... no meal I ever ate there outlasted that sprint to the john in the morning.

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