Buxton – Part 2

Published 10:32 am Monday, January 9, 2012

AHOSKIE – The next step in identifying possible new businesses to locate here will be taken next week.

The public is invited to a 7 p.m. meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the old Ahoskie High School Band Room (701 West Main Street adjacent to the Ahoskie Police Dept.). There, The Buxton Group will outline the scope of the research they were hired to study in an effort to attract new retail stores and restaurants.

Next week’s gathering marks the second time Buxton officials have met with the public. At their initial meeting on Oct. 20, Casey Williams, Director of Sales for The Buxton Group, revealed a list of “good matches” for the Ahoskie/Hertford County market. That list 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.

At their November meeting, members of the Ahoskie Town Council learned that Buxton would assist in marketing the town to 10 of the 15 “best matches.”

“What they will do is prepare letters of introduction and send them out to these businesses in hopes of us being able to bring them in to our community,” Town Manager Tony Hammond told the council at that meeting.

Hammond suggested the next step was to bring the community and council members together in a public setting in an effort to trim the list down to 10. That suggestion led to the Jan. 12 meeting.

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.

While Williams did identify the top 15 at the October meeting, he stressed that 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.

The Jan. 12 meeting will be hosted by the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, Hertford County Economic Development, the Ahoskie Town Council and the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce. Those planning to attend are urged to RSVP by calling the Ahoskie Town Hall at 332-5146.

Earlier last year, the Ahoskie Town Council agreed to spend $11,000 towards a $25,000 contract with The Buxton Group, a firm based in based in Fort Worth, Texas. In December of 2010, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to fund $11,000 towards the project. The remaining $3,000 was paid by the Mid-East Commission.

Buxton’s Community ID division developed a program specifically designed to help small client governments, economic development organizations and chambers of commerce identify and recruit retailers. Buxton officials say that program assists in the recruitment by identifying retailers that have existing locations in similar-sized communities.

In the case of Hertford County/Ahoskie, Buxton used their Community ID process to identify and analyze all households in the county’s and town’s drive-time trade area. Previous work performed by the company has revealed that customers shop by convenience, measuring distance by time rather than mileage.

Based on more than 75,000 categories of lifestyles, purchase behaviors and media reading, the households in the local drive-time trade area are assessed to gain an understanding of the types of retailers that would be attracted to Hertford County/Ahoskie.

Boasting of possessing the largest database of retail information in the world, The Buxton Group works with over 1,300 retailers and has recruited over 17 million square feet of retail space for the 300-plus municipalities stretched over 36 states that use the company’s services.

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.

email author More by Cal