‘Match’ list needs trim

Published 10:13 am Friday, November 11, 2011

AHOSKIE – It’s a win-win scenario for all.

The next step has been taken regarding a marketing strategy to make Ahoskie the home of new businesses. That step was taken here Tuesday morning during a meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council who heard an update on The Buxton Group’s Oct. 20 presentation at the Ahoskie Inn.

“We’re at a point right now where they are making matches for the community,” Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond explained to the council members. “They provided 16 business matches for us. Of those 16, they will assist us in marketing this community to 10 of those best matches. What they will do is prepare letters of introduction and send them out to these businesses in hopes of we being able to bring them in to our community.”

Hammond said the next step was to bring the community and council members together in a public setting in an effort to whittle the list from 16 to 10.

“It was suggested at the Buxton meeting that we need to set up a public workshop, bringing the public in and give them the opportunity to talk about this,” Hammond said.

Hammond recommended that due to the traditional busy calendar that everyone experiences during November and December due to the holiday season, it may be wise to wait until after Jan. 1 to hold that public workshop.

“Buxton has agreed to come back for that meeting and make another presentation,” Hammond said. “They are here to help us market our community.”

“I’m still excited about this,” said Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Dan Joyner who attended Tuesday’s council meeting as well as the Buxton Group presentation. “I was very pleased with the Buxton presentation a few weeks ago. It answered a lot of questions, especially helping us understand the process and Buxton’s relationships with the companies they work with and the advantages of Ahoskie using Buxton so we can actually begin to make contact with prospective new businesses. As they told us that night, they give us the rod and reel and the bait, we have to go out and catch the fish.”

“We have to get everyone on board, the businesses and the Chamber to buy in to this,” Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn said. “This is not a town (government) driven effort, we’re just pushing the cart. Buxton can help us, point us in the right direction, to have new businesses park right here in Ahoskie.”

Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. is the tentative date for the public workshop. It is scheduled to be held in the old Ahoskie High School Band Room.

With the Buxton study in hand, Hammond said the town and community members can focus resources on recruiting specific retailers that match the local trade area’s consumers. That main trade area is defined as a 15 minute drive time; there is a secondary trade area that extends out an additional 15 minutes in drive time.

The Buxton Group launched its study in March. Their methodology in performing its research of the Ahoskie/Hertford County retail trade/restaurant area was to first identify who those customers are, where they live and what is their value to the local market. After developing the trade area, Buxton used data gained through over 350 consumer information sources to match the best retailers to fit that area.

The list of “good matches” for the Ahoskie/Hertford County market included (listed alphabetically) Auto Zone, Badcock Home Furnishing Center, Bi-Lo, Inc., Curves, Hardees, Huddle House Restaurant, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Papa’s Pizza To Go, Peebles Department Store, Shoney’s Restaurant, Sonic Drive In Restaurant, Tractor Supply Company, True Value Hardware, Western Sizzlin Steakhouse and Zaxbys.

Casey Williams, Director of Sales for The Buxton Group who made the Oct. 20 presentation, said this is not an “end all” list. He was encouraged by Ahoskie officials to look at other popular restaurants, to include Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday. In each case, Williams’ research revealed that the Ahoskie trade area exceeded the criteria used by those restaurants to study possible expansion.

However, Williams said that while the Ahoskie trade area meets the criteria, those restaurant chains are only located in a handful of small markets in the South Atlantic region. On a positive note, Williams said Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday do favor a retail area that includes a Wal Mart Supercenter. A Supercenter is currently proposed for construction on US 13 South, adjacent to Freeman Metal Products.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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