JIM: Hey, John. Just got a note from a woman wanting to know how we could get Bed, Bath & Beyond to the area. This reminds me of the other requests that we get Trader Joe’s and Costco to come to town. While there’s a lot we can offer, those kind of decisions rest with corporations themselves using metrics that – in some cases – keep us out of the hunt.
JOHN: Bed, Bath & Beyond…sounds like a pretty nice little Saturday (Old School movie reference). Anyways, yeah those traditional metrics keep us out of the hunt…but we’re not your typical metro in terms of retail.
JIM: I mean major retailers looking for the best density of potential customers take a cursory glance at Mankato and see it has a population of only about 41,000 and limited demographics like high income. But Mankato is not just serving its own population.
JOHN: Exactly. We play way bigger than a typical metro our size. We have a stronger regional retail pull than other regional centers in the state. Remember that University of Minnesota study? It identified the top tier of retail communities in Minnesota and there were the usual suspects like Saint Cloud, Duluth, and Rochester…and Mankato. All of us had over a $1 billion annually in retail sales. But what stood out was focusing on retail sales per capita. Mankato had a higher sales per capita of all of them, by a WIDE margin: 60% higher. There are a few factors that contribute to it.
JIM: You betcha. Talk to the big retailers in the area like car dealers, the mall, and grocery stores. They all talk about how their customer base comes from northern Iowa and the far reaches of southwestern Minnesota. The civic center knows all about attracting from a wide area when it has concerts. And it’s that attraction to the area that helps feed our smaller businesses too. When they come to shop at the mall or a box store, they are just as inclined to eat at local restaurants, get a roll from the bakery or stop at the Children’s Museum.
JOHN: And doctor visits. We have a few health care providers that are regional destinations in Mayo Clinic Health Systems, Mankato Clinic, and the Open Door Health Center. Rural folks come to the “big city” for their doctor visit and do their big shopping trip, all in one shot. So Trader Joe’s needs to know that they are going to get people from an hour away in Kiester, Minnesota, for example, who are coming to the city for any one of several regional destinations. Why do I bring up Kiester? Because I just love that they are going to be part of an upcoming Preparation-H commercial. They have Preparation-H at Costco, right?