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Thread: Retail matching service

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Retail matching service

    Mattoon and Charleston are looking into a joint venture to hire a company to produce a demographics survey and match up retail business with the area. They gave a sales pitch before the last council meeting and I only caught the last part. I kind of felt like I was listening to a used car salesman, but the council and other business leaders in the room seemed interested in what he had to say.

    The company charges the community to do the survey and also charges businesses for the matching the two. I suppose if it all works, everyone is happy. But I didnít feel comfortable about them charging at both ends. I do like the idea of the cities taking a pro-active approach towards attracting new business. The old method of sitting by the phone and waiting for it to ring wasnít working real well.

    Is this a common method for communities to bring in new retail? Or are we likely throwing our money into the wind?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    On the one hadn it sounds a bit spivvy and unecessary.

    On the other ahnd, I've witnessed first-hand citizen's groups and oteh 'grass-roots' orgs who were somehow involved with the retail mix make very basic mistakes in their assumptions / choices so maybe some expert advice would be useful.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I am with you about being concerned about them charging at both ends. Have you talked with the business faculty at EIU to see if they can produce a similiar document, or have other companies that preform similiar services present to the city council?

    If you are trying to attract developers why are you going to charge them to prove Mattoon is an attractive place to open a business? Maybe I am missing something but you want developers to have as much information as possible and make choosing your area as hassle free as possible.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    To clarify, are you talking about a Retail Market Analysis?

    Link to Ohio State info on RMAs: http://www-agecon.ag.ohio-state.edu/...20is%20rma.htm

    and an example (PDF, and I did not read it closely to determine the quality): http://madison.osu.edu/ag/LondonRMA.pdf

    We're doing a downtown master plan that includes a market niche analysis. We chose to include it because those interested in redeveloping downtown do not have a clear consensus or understanding of what business categories they should target to improve the health of downtown.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman GŲring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    To clarify, are you talking about a Retail Market Analysis?
    That is about what I invisioned from the meeting.

    Retail Recruitment analysis is how it was described in the paper
    http://www.jg-tc.com/articles/2007/0...ws/news003.txt

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    It looks like Buxton has done this before in a various other communities. I would call these towns and see what success they experienced and what they wished they did differently.

    Is Mattoon and Charleston in desperate need of retail? Retail is not a strong economic development tool. If creates low paying, low skilled jobs, and it tends to be very cyclical which does not help the economy out in down times.

    Where are some knee jerk questions:
    How do the citizens feel about a company buying their credit card records and tracing their spending habits and preferences? It also appears that Buxton keeps the data and is able to sell it to its corporate clients, thus getting paid twice. How secure is Buxton with all its data? What recourse does the city or the citizens have if their information is compromised?
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Is Mattoon and Charleston in desperate need of retail?
    We have a mall that is half empty, an empty K-mart building that is being converted to a strip mall that is looking for clients, several other strips that are partially empty and of course a downtown that is mostly vacant. Charleston also has several empty stores. There is also a lot of empty commercial subdivision space available. A big part of which has recently been designated a TIF district that the City is putting a lot into to. (if it holds up in court but that is a whole different animal)

    We are constantly being passed over by retail looking to move from into smaller cities (15k-30k). They usually choose Effingham over here. Effingham has worked to attract retail, but they are also in a much better location.

    Mattoon and Charleston are starting to work together as a community of 40k instead of 2 communities of 20k in hopes of bringing in more retail.

    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Where are some knee jerk questions:
    How do the citizens feel about a company buying their credit card records and tracing their spending habits and preferences?
    I hadn't thought of this, I figured that's the price you pay for using credit cards. I am not sure how detailed the data is. I figured they would just be gathering numbers, not names. I will look into this.
    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    It also appears that Buxton keeps the data and is able to sell it to its corporate clients, thus getting paid twice. How secure is Buxton with all its data? What recourse does the city or the citizens have if their information is compromised?
    Being paid on both ends was a red flag for me to, that is what prompted this thread. I was curious how common this was. As to security, again, I hadn't imagined they would be getting personal information, just numbers.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Savemattoon I am really curious about this, please let me know what happens.

    My security concerns came from reading this article about the company,

    http://www.buxtonco.com/Buxton_FWBP_WEB.pdf

    It starts by the CEO of Buxton sating if you give him 10 minutes he can tell you what radio station you listen to on your drive to work.

    If he can tell you that then his organization keeps track of all sorts of data and makes them a prime target for id theft. By doing the study on Mattoonians his company will have what I would assume to be complete dossiers on those that use credit cards in the area.

    From what I could find this is the only company that does things like this. My concern is you pay for the research so he can buy the data on your citizens from the credit card industry and then he turns around and sells it to firms that want demographic and marketing information.

    Not controlling the information worries me. Can the cities request the demographic information at anytime free or charge to use in their marketing efforts?

    I would love to see their successes. But from what I can tell of Google and their website they are a legitimate company that has helped Fortune 500 companies and cities alike.

    What in addition are these communities planning to do? Have the towns figured out how to wrap the services being provided by Buxton with the current retail attraction efforts of both cities to ensure a return on the investment besides creating a TIF?
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  9. #9
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Buxton is legit and quite big--they had one of the largest booths at APA National 2006.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman GŲring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I spoke with the City Manager in Charleston about this today. He first met up with Buxton at the conference in San Antonio and has been dealing with them since. Heís checked with other communities that have used them and is very comfortable with the company.

    The retail division is completely separate from the municipal division, almost like two separate companies. He said their goal isnít to match their retail clients with their community clients, but to help their clients target the right customers. This isnít the impression I got the other night, but maybe I misunderstood.

    If he can tell you that then his organization keeps track of all sorts of data and makes them a prime target for id theft. By doing the study on Mattoonians his company will have what I would assume to be complete dossiers on those that use credit cards in the area.
    The credit card info is information that is already available to anyone willing to pay for it. No personal information is given and there is no security risk.
    From what I could find this is the only company that does things like this.
    I guess MapInfo has a similar program
    Have the towns figured out how to wrap the services being provided by Buxton with the current retail attraction efforts of both cities to ensure a return on the investment
    The Cities have spent a lot of effort in contacting companies to take a look at the community. But canít even get a call back. They hope this will allow them to contact companies and show them why they would work well here. They also donít want to spend a lot of effort into contacting business that donít fit. This study is also supposed to show underserved areas that may not warrant a new storefront, but may allow an existing business to expand and offer that line. The Chamber's of Commerce will be the one's using most of the information in their campaign to bring in business.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Does the chamber attend the ICSC convention? DC has been able to recruit retailers as a result from the initial meeting. This occurred 6 years ago when no one wanted to come to DC unless it was to Georgetown. Home Depot opened a store in NE and grocery chains are opening in neighborhoods that have been red-lined in the past.

    Cold calling rarely works. Most large retailers have a 5+ expansion plan and have identified where they are planning to go. By a plan I was thinking of a strategy to engage the targeted companies with advertising, attempts of communication etc. Hopefully the chamber and the cities can take Buxton information and put together a targeted campaign to take advantage of the information. If they only plan on cold calling then you are better off to save your money.

    Keep me posted on the progress. I am curious to see the results.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    This study is their first step away from cold calling. After talking to C-town, they seem to have put a lot of thought into it. We'll see if there are any results.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Interesting. We do the same kind of analysis as part of our package of services. Based on what I see, I would have bid the project around $50,000.

    Buxton or any other company doing this work goes to several vendors for its data, just as any other consultant would. When they talk about credit card data, etc., they are really talking about Claritas, Dun & Bradstreet, or some of the other data vendors who collect and distribute this information. "Matching" means accessing a database such as Plain Vanilla Shell to get profiles of retailers. Certainly Buxton, or any consultant, draws heavily upon their own knowledge and contacts within the retail industry. Still, it appears as if they are selling themselves as more than they really are.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I came across this article from Business Week on how sophisitcated retail site selection has become.

    http://www.businessweek.com/technolo...05076_7033.htm
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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