Consultant: Pelham needs more grocery stores, restaurants

Pelham is working with the Retail Strategies company to help recruit new businesses to the city's major corridors, such as Alabama 119. (Contributed/Aaroads.com)

Pelham is working with the Retail Strategies company to help recruit new businesses to the city’s major corridors, such as Alabama 119. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham could keep about $167 million in consumer spending in the city by adding more businesses in categories ranging from grocery stores to florists, according to the Retail Strategies consulting firm.

During its Aug. 5 pre-meeting work session, the Pelham City Council heard a presentation from representatives from Retail Strategies. The council hired Retail Strategies several months ago to help the city market itself, to help identify retail gaps in Pelham and to help recruit businesses to fill those gaps.

“We’ve got the ability to go in and look at the region and tell you the amount of dollars that are being spent outside of your area,” Retail Strategies co-founder Chuck Branch told council members. “Filling those retail gaps has three benefits: It brings in new businesses, it creates new jobs and it increases the city’s sales tax base.”

Retail Strategies co-founder Robert Jolly displayed a list of 10 major retail gaps Pelham is facing, and said the city could keep about $167 million in the city by filling the gaps.

Pelham is most in need of two more grocery stores, Jolly said. The list also recommended a lawn and garden equipment retailer, four restaurants, three clothing stores, a department store, an office supply store, a electronics store, a shoe store, a florist and a hobby or toy store.

Jolly said Retail Strategies likely will work to recruit a major grocery store and a smaller specialty-type grocery store to Pelham.

In total, Jolly recommended Pelham add 16 new businesses in the 10 major gap categories, which represents about 260,000 square feet.

Branch said Retail Strategies will target businesses fitting the city’s needs, but said the company will reach out to “all retailers, whether they meet our target plan or not.”

Jolly said Retail Strategies has already marketed the city at a large trade show in Las Vegas, and said the company is planning to attend three more large trade shows over the next few months.

“There is no question we will have a good list of retailers interested in Pelham,” Jolly said. “The challenge is, where do we put them? For some national retailers, there is not an abundance of immediate existing space with the right co-tenancy for those national retailers.

“We’re glad that’s the challenge, and it’s not retailers not being interested,” Jolly added.