Gypsum hires firm to study, plan and recruit retail business options to town
November 9, 2017
GYPSUM — It's no secret that the town of Gypsum heartily supports business development, especially businesses that bring in sales tax revenue.
The town demonstrated its commitment last year by creating a new position — economic development director — and then hiring Jeremy Rietmann, formerly of the Vail Valley Partnership, to the post. Now the town is partnering with a national retail development firm to complete a site assessment and market analysis of the community's trade area.
The Retail Coach, a national group based out of Mississippi, will work closely with Gypsum officials to identify market-feasible local and regional retail opportunities and develop a retail-development strategy for the community.
"They seemed compatible with small towns," said Gypsum Town Council member Tom Edwards during a discussion of the issue earlier this month. "We are trying to get businesses in town, and this is a step the town needs to take."
Master Plan Vision
Rietmann noted that last June, Gypsum approved a new master plan — a land-use document that reflects the community's collective vision for how the town should develop over the long term. The master-planning process engaged hundreds of Gypsum residents and businesses to share their ideas about how the town should grow and evolve.
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"With the new master plan in place, town officials have a good understanding of resident desires and long-term community land-use goals, but they know there can often be a disconnect between local land-use planning dreams and on-the-ground market realities," Rietmann said. "The town's new partnership with The Retail Coach aims to eliminate this disconnect by helping the community better understand local market potential and pursue feasible strategies to support the plan's goals."
After analyzing Gypsum's existing market and working closely with existing businesses and retailers, The Retail Coach's first step will be to determine the town's retail trade area. That area will encompass the defined boundary from which Gypsum draws 80 percent to 85 percent of its primary consumers. Using that information, the team will create retail profile reports and prepare marketing tools to represent Gypsum locally, regionally and nationally to retailers, restaurants and developers.
"Our team is excited for the opportunity to partner with Gypsum in this process and looks forward to spending time in Gypsum and the surrounding area as we develop the retail development strategy," said Aaron Farmer, senior vice president of The Retail Coach.
Another part of The Retail Coach's contract will be to determine what consumers are leaving Gypsum to purchase.
"This is essential in evaluating which types of retailers could be successful in the market and highlight missed market opportunities that might be better captured by existing local retailers," Rietmann said.
Because tourism plays a large role in the region, with many guests starting their Vail and Beaver Creek vacations in Gypsum at the Eagle County Regional Airport and Vail Valley Jet Center, the company will work closely with the town and existing businesses on strategies to better capture these potential customers in the community.
"We are big believers that in order for a community to be successful from a retail perspective, there must be a good mix of local, regional and national retailers," Farmer said. "We will be hosting local retail workshops with existing businesses and potential entrepreneurs on this analysis and how to be successful in marketing to the primary Gypsum consumer and tourists."
The Retail Coach will also work with Gypsum to recruit regional and national retailers and developers through outreach to retailers, brokers and developers. The Retail Coach will represent Gypsum at retail trade shows throughout the country.
Gypsum's contract with The Retail Coach is for 12 months with a work fee not to exceed $40,000, plus $3,000 in reimbursement for travel expenses. The firm was retained through a competitive request for proposal process that generated proposals from three additional firms, including Retail Strategies, of Birmingham, Alabama; Jeff Green Partners, of Phoenix; and Summit Economics, of Colorado Springs.
"This firm seemed to be the best fit for Gypsum, as their approach looks like it will blend nicely with our recent master-plan work and will be inclusive of business and resident interests," Edwards said. "The Retail Coach shares the excitement the town of Gypsum has for this project. We're looking forward to working with them."