Clark County plans to target retailers with help of recruitment firm

Clark County plans to target about 20 retailers to open locations in the area with the help of a Texas-based retail recruitment firm.

Buxton Co. has pledged to attract retailers that would be a good fit for Clark County through its connections with its more than 3,500 clients and research on local demographics and buying habits, Clark County Community Development Director Tom Hale said.

RELATED: Upper Valley Mall faces uphill battle to attract tenants

“The times are changing,” Hale said. “The malls across the country are seeing a decline in attendance so we felt that Buxton could help us not only focus on the mall but the other areas we have.”

The one year contract with the company will cost the county $50,000, he said, and can be renewed when the year is up. But it could bring in more revenue to the county for local schools and government entities, he said, through increased sales tax collections.

“It has the potential for income, it has the potential for jobs,” Hale said. “It has the potential for people to experience the other things that the community has to offer.”

The company’s research has found that local consumers tend to like bowling, NASCAR and audio books, Buxton Account Manager Antoine Long said in a presentation to the county commission last week.

READ MORE: Two new stores opening at Upper Valley Mall in Clark County

Many people in the area also own cats, buy camping equipment and live in multi-generational households, he said.

Most local consumers are looking to purchase home improvement goods, furnishings and clothing, he said. The company can determine what retailers are most likely to locate to Clark County, he said, and what businesses will be sustainable and successful.

Buxton will begin to reach out to retailers in January, Long said. It’s looking to place businesses near the new site of the planned Kroger Marketplace, 2630 Springfield-Jamestown Road in Springfield Twp., and the Upper Valley Mall to fill vacancies there.

The community has seen a retail shift away from the aging mall and toward Bechtle Avenue.

Retailer Rue 21 said in late October the company would move its store out of the mall and into a new location on Bechtle Avenue. The mall has also seen several national chains leave in recent years, including anchors like Elder Beerman, J.C. Penney and Macy’s and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Upper Valley Mall leaders believe Buxton will benefit the mall and all of Clark County.

“We welcome Buxton Company’s support in attracting uses in areas where a void exists within the community,” Mall General Manager Brenda LaBonte said.

The mall is also looking to attract less mainstream tenants, she said, and more nontraditional ones, including health-care providers and entertainment venues.

The county is also in talks with retailers interested in the mall, Hale said.

“We certainly don’t have anyone that’s ready to move in but there’s certainly a lot of good conversation that’s going on,” he said.

Local leaders have also recently attracted some national retailers, including a new Dick’s Sporting Goods location on Bechtle Avenue and a Rural King in German Twp.

It will take time for new businesses to appear in the county, Hale said, but he’s optimistic the partnership with Buxton will be a success.

Angela Butler came from her home in Troy to shop at the Upper Valley Mall last week. She used to do all of her holiday shopping there but Butler was disappointed that there weren’t more stores there now.

She would like to see more stores in Clark County so she doesn’t have to drive to Dayton.

“I drove from Troy, so i’m hoping to find something … Locally there’s not much within a 20 mile range where you can go with the bigger stores,” she said.

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