Marshallites make shopping wants known via MSDC survey

Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A recent poll conducted by the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation found that a shoestore was high on the list of demands from Marshall consumers. However, Marshall's Payless Shoesource is slated to close by year's end.

And the survey says: Marshall residents like to shop at home, but want a better selection.

The Marshall-Saline Development Corporation's Board of Directors found out what area residents would like to see in local retail selections Tuesday when it discussed the results of a recently conducted retail needs survey.

Mark Dawson, an economic development specialist with Aquila, oversaw the survey, which was conducted both online and through media inserts. He was on hand for the board's regular meeting Tuesday to review his findings.

Just over 80 percent of the 101 respondents lived in Marshall and 65 percent of them have lived in Saline County for more than 20 years. Despite the small sampling, Dawson said the survey was accurate enough to give MSDC an idea of what residents are looking for.

"It at least gives us a flavor of what the county says it wants," he said.

Interestingly, three of the top four responses for businesses residents would like to see take up addresses here have existed in Marshall before. Home improvement giant Lowes topped the list and was followed by former local business J.C. Penney's, any shoe store and Golden Corral.

Among the other popular choices for new businesses named in the survey were women's clothiers and restaurants.

Dawson said the survey also indicated some positive trends for Marshall. He said 67 percent of the respondents work in Marshall, which is something the city needs to capitalize on.

"People tend to shop going to work or [going] home from work," Dawson said. "If you can keep that captive audience, it's good for the home team."

Additionally, 62 percent of those taking the poll make at least 50 percent of their purchases in Marshall, a sign that people are willing to shop here -- if they can find what they want.

Now that the survey is completed, Dawson will work with MSDC Executive Director Roy Hunter to determine which retailers would be a good fit for Marshall. To do this, Dawson said, he looks at "economic DNA," factors including population base, housing units, educational level and household income.

Once the matches are made on paper it will be up to the MSDC staff to pursue those retailers. Dawson said the process can take as long as a year, but with the data in hand it's much easier.

Board member Bill Riggins said Marshall is poised for growth.

"We just have to make the effort to make it happen," he said.

Contact Chris Post at

marshallhealth@socket.net

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