Archive for Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Study: New store needs community ‘ownership’

The closed store on Lexington Avenue was one of three sites considered for a new grocery in a market and feasibility study completed for the city of De Soto. The study says a small or mid-sized grocery store could succeed with the right management if it was responsive to community needs and identified closely with the community.

The closed store on Lexington Avenue was one of three sites considered for a new grocery in a market and feasibility study completed for the city of De Soto. The study says a small or mid-sized grocery store could succeed with the right management if it was responsive to community needs and identified closely with the community.

October 28, 2009

A market and feasibility study into the potential of a new De Soto grocery store recalls the fairy tale of the three bears by sampling three sizes to find one right for the community.

Although the largest store studied was found to be “too big,” neither a small grocery store such as the one in Eudora or a mid-sized store twice that size earned the stamp of “just right.” Both those option would face challenges that would need a strong sense of community ownership to be overcome, the study says.

Last month, the city contracted with Dakota Worldwide Corp. for a $6,000 feasibility and market study on grocery store options in De Soto. The Minneapolis, Minn., firm delivered the study to the city last week.

The study’s author, Terry O’Connell, looked at three different sites and the types of stores best suited for them. The sites were the closed store on Lexington Avenue, the new store east of the Pizza Hut in KTen Commercial Park, and a new store at the intersection of Kill Creek Road and 95th Street south of Kansas Highway 10.

The study assumed the community’s current trade area had a population of 10,417, which is an increase of 1,521 since the official 2000 Census. But it estimates the population would only increase by 260 people in the next five years. The trade area extended south to 143rd Street, north to Woodend Road, west to the county line and east to Cedar Creek Parkway.

By far the most successful of the scenarios studied in capturing market share in the trade area was a large 58,000-square-foot supermarket similar in nature those of Price Chopper or Hy-Vee stores on the Kill Creek Road/95th Street intersection south of Kansas Highway 10. However, the expense associated with the store, which drops its sales per square foot to half of the other options studied, makes such a facility impractical until an additional 2,000 to 3,000 people live in a 4-mile radius to support it.

“Once this happens, the city city will attract a large full-service supermarket and additional retail,” the study states.

The size limitations of the closed 17,000-square-foot store would limit its role to a “secondary or convenience” grocery outlet for the trade area. The undated store would also need a makeover inside and out and stripping and more lighting would have to be added the parking lot to make it feel safer, the study states.

“The operator should pick a department to excel in, whether it is in the bakery, deli or another department, he should offer the overall best quality or prices in the trade area The store, based on its size, cannot be everything to everybody. However, it can be very good at what he does do.”

To understand what those areas of focus should be and to increase the sense of ownership, the operator should have a meeting to ask residents what they want in a store. The operator should also make an effort to become involved in the community and include De Soto in its name.

The study suggests the same measures be taken for a 30,000-square-foot supermarket in KTen Commercial Park. Even with the added size and greater sales volume the study estimates, the store, too, would be primarily fulfill the same secondary and convenience functions as the new store in the closed store site.

“Even with these parameters, it is doubtful that a 30,000-square-foot supermarket will have the adjacent retail help and offering necessary to stop enough trade area residents from doing their primary shopping outside of the trade area at larger stores,” the study concludes.

The study was forwarded to De Soto City Council members last week. On Tuesday, Councilman Ron McDaniel0, who has been a vocal supporter of the city’s involvement in attracting a new store, said he read the study over once but needed to study it in more detail and get clarification on some passages.

His early impression was that it appeared a medium sized grocery store would work in the site beside Pizza Hut, McDaniel said. He was disappointed the study looked at a large supermarket on Kill Creek Road, because chains had already informed the city the community wasn’t big enough for such a store.

The council needed to schedule a community meeting and do a survey to find out what residents wanted and would support, McDaniel said.

The market study will be discussed at the Nov. 5 De Soto City Council meeting.

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