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Retail marketing group helping city ‘tell its story’

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Posted on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm


Staff Writer


Tullahoma Mayor Lane Curlee has been focused on recruiting retail businesses into Tullahoma to grow the city’s population.

“He gets excited to talk about economic development,” said Tullahoma Area Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Daryl Brady.

Curlee says he wants Tullahoma to be a place where customers go to shop and be entertained. Where children (even grandchildren) decide to stay (or return).

“The only way I know to do that is to grow the community,” he said.

Last year, the city hired the Shopping Center Group at a cost of more than $30,000 to attract retail businesses by drafting demographic and retail location information that will showcase the amenities Tullahoma has to offer.

City officials met with the Shopping Center Group last Tuesday at Tullahoma’s city hall to get an update on its progress.

The meeting also gave officials the opportunity to promote a new retail recruitment marketing package and its website, This site gives potential retailers a glimpse of what the city has to offer from its top-5 school system to its array of healthcare providers.

“We want people to know we want their business,” said Curlee. “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to invest in our community.”

Not just in retail, he added.

“That’s residential, industrial, that’s everything. We’re doing a number of things to tell our story.”

Helping tell Tullahoma’s story is a marketing package developed by the Shopping Center Group that goes into detail breaking down the city’s demographic rings that include driving time, education and income. It also includes an aerial map.

“Aerial maps go a long way in showing off a community’s business features,” said the Shopping Center Group’s director of marketing Lacy Beasley.

The Shopping Center Group’s director of marketing Lacy Beasley discusses a marketing package for retail development with local officials Tuesday afternoon at Tullahoma’s city hall. The package includes demographic information and an aerial map showcasing Tullahoma’s businesses. Tullahoma mayor Lane Curlee says it is important to tell the city’s story to better help with recruitment efforts. –Staff Photo by Ian Skotte

Several of the retail businesses Beasley highlighted included Publix, Bojangles, Dunkin Donuts, Firehouse Subs, GameStop and Golden Coral.

Tullahoma promotes itself as a retail hub for five counties.

To this date, the Shopping Center Group has brought several retail businesses to the area, including Northgate Mall’s Rue 21, according to Curlee.

However, according to Will Albaugh, a retail consultant for Select Comfort, who has previously worked with retailers including Target, CVS, Thomasville Furniture and Zaxby’s, retail decisions are based upon demographics, economics, potential profit thresholds and existing customer sales.

“When I was at BSM Properties back in the mid-2000s, we had a number of national casual dining chains interested in out-parcels of the Worth Plant site and traded letters of interest (LOI) with them, but they just wouldn’t pay enough given their analysis of Tullahoma’s trade area demographics to make the economics work,” he said. “One well-known restaurant chose Shelbyville because of its higher growth rate and lack of competition. But nonetheless, many chains, including recently-opened Chick-fil-A, have known about Tullahoma for almost 10 years; they just waited until the right opportunity and probably a cheap deal.”

When asked, Beasley said she didn’t expect Tullahoma’s population to necessarily “grow” as a result of adding a retail grocery like a Publix — rather the expectation that customers from other areas would come in from neighboring communities to increase the so-called pie.

According to Curlee, on the other hand, numbers – not just population, “but all kind of demographic information” drives retail development.

“Now [with the help of the Shopping Center Group] we have a world of information about Tullahoma that is of importance to retailers,” said Curlee. “That’s critical – being able to tell the story…You’ve got to be able to justify it.”

Tullahoma has the desire to grow, the mayor said.

But the city is still at a disadvantage due to its lack of interstate access and lack of growth in the last 10 – 20 years.

Albaugh says when comparing Tullahoma’s overall trade area to places like Columbia, Cookeville, Cleveland, Maryville and Cullman, Ala., Tullahoma matches up well. The two major challenges that Tullahoma will have to overcome versus these other places, according to Albaugh, are core city size and proximity to the interstate.

“So, Tullahoma’s lack of substantial growth over the past 10-20 years, not being on an interstate, and not being close to a major metropolitan area are significant obstacles,” said Albaugh. “The city must stress its positive features, including a larger overall trade area population, stronger education and income levels compared to other surrounding municipalities, a regional healthcare system and proximity to higher paying employment opportunities such as AEDC and Nissan. Retailers have to be convinced that residents from Winchester, Manchester, Lynchburg and Shelbyville will drive to Tullahoma to shop if they place a store here.”

Curlee points to 13 of the last 16 months of retail growth in the city of Tullahoma. He also says doing a better job of telling Tullahoma’s story will help getting those retailers who may not have previously heard of the city.

Original article appeared here

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