Due to lack of current shopping options, national firm sees lots of retail potential for Gypsum
GYPSUM — With the exception of Costco, the town of Gypsum doesn’t really have a wealth of retail opportunities.
But it could, according to consultant Aaron Farmer, of The Retail Coach.
“I think the prospects for Gypsum look good,” Farmer said. “Obviously Coscto is a blessing to Gypsum, and I think we can play off its regional draw.”
Farmer delivered his optimistic report to members of the Gypsum Town Council last week. Late last year, the town hired The Retail Coach to examine the community’s current retail status, determine opportunities and ultimately reach out to national companies. The Retail Coach is a national group based out of Mississippi that works with communities to identify market-feasible local and regional retail opportunities and develop retail-development strategies.
The company’s initial study of Gypsum showed what people know — consumer spending isn’t just leaking out of the community, it is flooding out of Gypsum. For example, the Gypsum area provides potential clothing sales for more than $28 million, but actual clothing sales that happen within the town total just $391,000. That means $27.9 million of those sales dollars leak to other jurisdictions.
But leakage alone doesn’t tell the whole potential retail story for Gypsum. The community also has median income statistics that are attractive to potential retailers.
Strong income stats
Median annual income in Eagle County is $98,763. In neighboring Eagle, that number is higher, at $111,808, and in Gypsum itself, the figure sits at $79,286. Gypsum Economic Development Director Jeremy Rietmann noted that nationally, medium income is in the high $50,000s to low $60,000s, which helps make the case that Gypsum is a strong market for retail development.
Rietmann said that argument is also strengthened by the most recent real estate sales figures out of Gypsum. In 2016, the community saw $77 million in total real estate sales volume. By 2017, that figure jumped by 36 percent to $120.8 million.
On the downside, Gypsum needs to expand its job base.
“We need some more, permanent employment in town. It’s really important to have that employment in town because that’s your daytime population for retailers,” Rietmann said. “As a bedroom community, it drives home the point that we still need to be focusing on bringing primary job development to town.”
Two part approach
Gypsum’s plan to expand its retail base has two parts. First, the town wants to reach out to existing businesses to help them learn more about local shopping data. By making sure that companies know more about their customers, Rietmann noted that Gypsum can help businesses make more money and increase sales tax revenue.
The second part of the plan is to identify development possibilities and pair them with retailers who fit with the community. Once the town knows where businesses can be located and which businesses would likely be successful, The Retail Coach will begin recruitment efforts.
Rietmann noted the initial report from the company outlines some of the most promising prospects, including a mid-size sporting goods retailer, fast-food operations and casual dining restaurants. The Retail Coach report also noted that building materials sales has huge potential for Gypsum, with potential sales for building materials and garden equipment estimated at more than $106 million. There’s already a company ready to jump on some of that need.
Next week, the Gypsum Town Council will consider a special-use permit request for a True Value hardware store proposed at 220 Cooley Mesa Road. The store proposals calls for 12,500 square feet of retail space, a 2,500-square-foot covered storage space and a second-level mezzanine that includes 1,100 square feet of administration/office space and a 1,400-square-foot apartment/living space to be restricted for exclusive use by Gypsum True Value employees.
The project is proposed on a 2.42-acre site just south of Costco.
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If the coronavirus sparks migration, what will that mean for places like Eagle County, which local economic development officials say is well-positioned to offer people the recreation and lifestyle opportunities they may be seeking?