Sunday Column: They long for a Target

This week, I wrote about a Facebook group dedicated to begging for a Target/Starbucks in Lee County. Do I think it could happen?
Read on.



3 thoughts on “Sunday Column: They long for a Target

  1. I think your research in the Herald article pretty much sums it up, Sanford has a little way to go to support some of the higher/mid range discount stores and other franchise chains.

    Along with the oft mentioned Target, Starbucks, Chilis, Home Depot, another item high on citizens’ wish lists is a big box book store.

    But along with the aforementioned challenges with Sanford’s current economic status, the current national economy… along with the changing marketplace, is also really putting a strain on some chains like Starbucks(recently closed 600 stores) and rumors abound that Borders is on the precipice of bankruptcy.

    So although I believe that Sanford is really making progress, am a huge supporter of growth here, and may be on the cusp of starting to attract this next tier/phase of economic development….. I think we’ve got some challenges locally with incomes & population compounded by the economy as a whole nationally.

    However, I do believe that Sanford has made slow but steady ‘smart’ growth over the last 10 years, and if we continue that pace, our unique geographic location and projects like BRAC will undoubtedly continue to help Sanford reach the tipping point where it does make sense for these businesses to come here.

    Although one caution, be careful what one wishes for. Although I too like Target better than Wal-Mart for all the standard reasons, more big-box stores and chains mean more competition for local vendors…. often contributing to their contraction until/unless the market has enough disposable income to support a local thriving arts and/or boutique economy. But that phase is usually well after the big boxes have already arrived, if ever. It’s a tradeoff.

    I am excited about what the future holds for Sanford though, and I think we are in store for great things over time. Maybe just not tomorrow 🙂


  2. I concur with Al, curiously enough the lead in the poll on your blog is the one saying they think our county could support a Target. It all comes down to a business case for landing a national chain. Its not just income, but disposable income. Its not just disposable income, but the tendency for a targeted market to want to spend their $$ there. If Lee County does not have both the disposable income, or have a good number of persons who are likely to shop at the location, its not coming. I think both are still lacking in Lee County, compared with some of our contiguous counties.

    I also agree with Al on what will happen to the fabric of this great community if a big box retailer does locate here. From my short tenure in the County, I am really impressed with the variety of local stores, shops and restrauants. I fear that the advent of a big box migration to our area would seriously dimmish the essence of the community which I see is its individuality. Its hard to maintain that individuality when a chain comes in because everything is standardized, and employment freedoms sometimes become lost. Examples include a local retailer being able to give time off with pay above and beyond expected to an employee who is ill or has ill family members. It would be near impossible for this to occur in a chain due to standardized human resource policies. So that flexibility is lost and I feel the community ties are broken when an area is beset with numerous chains.

    Another concern I have is the lack of reinvestment in the community. I have seen extrordinary effort to give back to the Lee County community by our local businesses and industry. Most profits from local businesses, and sometimes, business expenses are put back into the community whereas a chain store will take those profits back to their headquarters to build new stores, or pay stockholders the dividends which are extremely unlikely to benefit the community. Yeah they do some corporate giving, but nothing like our local neighbors.

    While I do wish I didn’t have to drive so far to purchase items that I can’t find locally, I see it as a good tradeoff for maintaining the vibrancy of our community. I think Lee County is stronger for it.

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