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2018-05-16 / Front Page

EUP Could Support $60 Million in New Retail

Anyone who has ever dreamed of a particular new store or other commercial business in the Eastern Upper Peninsula may be intrigued by new expert analysis of the kinds of business that could be supported and sustained in seven EUP communities.

Newly compiled data on the topic of retail trade is expected to provide a springboard to growth for those seven communities. The seven studied were: Brimley, Clark Township, Mackinac Island, Newberry, Paradise, Soo Township and St. Ignace.

Retail Target Market Analysis (TMA) was performed for each, thanks to funds from the 2017 Regional Prosperity Initiative awarded to the EUP Regional Planning & Development Commission (EUPRPDC) for the project.

Birmingham-based Gibbs Planning Group (GPG) performed the analysis, which was complete in early April.

“Our research indicated that the seven communities studied could support a total of 244,400 square feet of new retail space with the potential to generate up to $60.5 million in new retail sales for the region,” summarized Dave Mangum, a certified urban planner with GPG.

“The $60.5 million in potential new sales figure represents a fraction of the dollars that are leaving these communities and being spent elsewhere. Residents, workers and visitors could prefer to spend that money in these communities, but the opportunities aren’t currently available,” he added.

These results, which are detailed for each community, open the door for wellinformed growth that could include the expansion of existing businesses, new commercial developments, planning and zoning changes and more.

The studies take a deep dive into the types of businesses that could be supported in each community, quantifying it by the number of total square feet that could be supported in a particular category.

A need for restaurants was one common thread among the seven communities revealed in the studies. In each community, capacity for additional full-service restaurants or expanded restaurants appeared in the number one or number two spot. In only two communities, Brimley and Paradise, capacity for grocery retail surpassed restaurants.

The study predicted two to three additional businesses would be supportable in the Newberry area for the following categories: apparel stores, full-service restaurants, limited-service eating places and special food services. In addition, it suggested one to two general merchandise stores and one each of the following:


Sporting goods/hobby store

Specialty food store

Shoe store

Office supplies/gift store

Miscellaneous store retailer

Jewelry store

Furniture and home furnishings store

Electronics and appliance store

Department store

Books and media store

There were fewer suggested businesses for Paradise, but they included two to three full-service restaurants, one to two limited service restaurants and special food services, and one each of the following:


Miscellaneous store retailer

Hardware and electronics

Grocery store

Gift store

General merchandise store

Apparel and shoe store

How does this information impact local growth? Existing retailers and entrepreneurs may wish to expand into those areas by growing product lines, opening another location or otherwise supplementing what is currently available. Developers considering the region may see specific opportunities in those categories where growth is possible.

Each of the reports examines spending potential and purchasing patterns of consumers in that particular area. For instance, when consumers shop using a credit card, researchers can find data about how and where people in a particular zip code shop and patterns can be discovered. GPG used data like this and a lot of other resources to measure existing demand.

Whether it is regular outof town shopping trips or purchases made online, the data helped experts see where demand exists and could be met locally with sustainable development.

Rebecca Bolen, a planner at EUPRPDC, is hopeful that organizations like Chambers of Commerce, economic development organizations, municipalities and others with take advantage of this information.

“We believe that community leaders and economic developers could successfully employ these studies as an attraction tool to show entrepreneurs the potential that exists in the community,” she explained. “There is a good deal of detail to be gleaned from each report, and it’s the kind of information that supports financial investment,” she noted.

GPG’s Mangum cautioned that change wouldn’t come about magically. “There are very few communities in the U.S. where retailers and developers are in a hurry to build or open new retail space,” he explained. “The communities that are successful work very hard to catch the attention of new retailers and developers. They attend industry trade shows, hire or train business recruitment staff, ensure their codes and policies are development friendly and tirelessly work to differentiate themselves from other communities,” Mangum said.

GPG experts encouraged communities to explore a variety of approaches. “There are several strategies that could be explored to expand the retail offerings and improve the shopping experience. Pop-up shops, food trucks, outdoor dining and public markets can be implemented in creative ways that can have a positive effect on a shopper’s perception of downtown,” Mangum suggested.

The seven studies can be viewed online at analyses.

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This is optimistic, but good

This is optimistic, but good news if any new stores were to arrive.