The city makes an estimated sales tax revenue of nearly $694,000 each year and has created 140 jobs. Retail and restaurant brands that have opened include Publix, Jimmy Johns, Planet Fitness, Kay Jewelers, Jersey Mike’s, Babcock Furniture, Aldi, Shoe Sensation, Sprint and Starbucks.
Serving as a regional shopping hub, Tullahoma, Tenn., boasts a population of 20,000 residents with a countywide population of 53,000. Thom Robinson, executive director for the Tullahoma Area Economic Development Corporation (TAEDC), has a focus on specifically dealing in the sectors of retail and healthcare development.
“I’ve been doing development work for nearly 40 years and this was the first time that retail development has been such a big part of what I do every day,” said Robinson.
When Robinson joined the TAEDC the economy was thriving, yet the team wasn’t satisfied with the new retail coming to town. The mall went through a phase where it was struggling, so they decided to hire a firm to assist with retail. After interviewing several retail recruitment consultants, the TAEDC team chose to hire Retail Strategies.
Beginning in 2014, the Retail Strategies team started putting boots on the ground to understand the market not only in terms of the demographics of the citizens but also the commercial properties and their owners. The Retail Strategies team compiled a list of prospective retailers that would be a good fit for the Tullahoma market. This allowed for a focused recruitment effort to begin immediately.
“Hiring Retail Strategies is like having three people working for me,” Robinson said of the decision his team made. “It’s not just figures on paper, Retail Strategies provides twice the service for a fraction of the cost that other consultants will charge.”
There are regularly scheduled calls with TAEDC, the Mayor’s office and the team at Retail Strategies where there are updates on activities and outreach with retail prospects. This meeting serves as a time to check in from all sides of the partnership
Over the last five years Tullahoma has seen a yearly sales tax revenue of $694,000 and the creation of more than 140 jobs. Retail and restaurant brands that have opened in Tullahoma include Publix, Jimmy Johns, Planet Fitness, Kay Jewelers, Jersey Mike’s, Badcock Furniture, Aldi, Shoe Sensation, Sprint and Starbucks. Recruiting and retaining these companies results in an annual sales tax of approximately $366,000 each year.
Robinson says he continues to work with Retail Strategies because, “There is a team working really hard for me. When I’m recommending Retail Strategies, I tell people that the networking is great. They talk to real estate professionals all the time and are constantly promoting us. You just can’t buy that.”
Publix, Jimmy Johns, Planet Fitness, Kay Jewelers, Jersey Mike’s, Babcock Furniture, Aldi, Shoe Sensation, Sprint and Starbucks.
Beyond Retail Recruitment
There is a former Kmart building sitting vacant in Tullahoma and the owner lives outside of the state. The city and Retail Strategies team have actively been trying to fill the empty box for the last 18 months through constant communication with the building owner and the property owner, encouraging both sides to come to the table. While the process has been lengthy, Robinson is hopeful they’ll be able to make a deal work.
“If it wasn’t for John and Jordan at Retail Strategies telling the building owner that Tullahoma is a great market, I don’t think we would be as far as we’ve made it today.”