Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Retail Replacement

I attended the Cambridge Economic Development Board informational meeting held at the Cambridge Community Building about a replacement store for the Duckwall's that is closing. (BTW - Duckwall's/ALCO, go pound sand!) ED put on an interesting meeting letting folks know what they are doing to try and get a replacement variety store to replace Duckwall's, and to be sure, this seems like a huge undertaking for the ED board.

I've been critical of ED on this blog in the past, but this time, I'm on ED's side. The board has attempted to contact several "chain" type variety stores, but only Dollar General responded, and their response was related to the crowd as "maybe, but don't hold your breath".

ED wants to fast track this project for several reasons. There are 5 people about to lose their jobs, and the city is about to lose $26,000 a year in sales tax revenue. Not only that, but ED feels that it will adversely effect other downtown business as well.

It looks like ED is locked into the old Duckwall's location, and has gone so far as spend money on the store shelves and fixtures. We were informed that the city has charged Duckwall's around $1100 per month rent.

To me though, the meeting asked many more questions than were answered. First up, I think ED is putting the cart ahead of the horse on this. While it would be desirable to open a new store ASAP, there is no real business plan that I can tell other than a business "model" from the town of Clark, South Dakota.

There is no lawyer involved with the plan so far... how can you ask for investment if you don't have some kind of plan other than... "we want to keep the management and employees the same as is now". The problem with that is that the current management has limited control over the local Duckwall's, especially when it comes to investor relations.

The town wants investors... Get a management team to be responsible or everything ED does about investing and setting up the business could be not what the new management would want or can even use legally.


  1. The ED board said its goal is to have the building empty for the least amount of time because of the loss of $26,000 in taxes. In no way will any new business that they can scrape together within the next 6 months bring in equivalent sales tax revenue. Nor will the young variety store they picture need the entire building in its first few years. I'm curious if they have considered mixed uses. Why not a small starter variety store that carries the necessities (most of which are already available down the street at the grocery store) and identify a CREATIVE way to bring in some money in the short-term, such as using a portion of the building as rentable office space or something to that effect. I applaud the efforts of the ED board and feel they are taking the right path; the small town variety store survived hundreds of years as a sustainable business model. Community pride is in no way lacking in Cambridge and if a small store has enough character and appeal, it can develop a solid local base of customers despite competition with Wal-Mart in McCook.

    I feel the board is jumping the gun on requesting investment after the blow many investors took after the closing of the ethanol plant (I was glad to see it in operation again while back for the holidays). The route they are recommending requires a great deal of creativity from a board that has not identified many creative means to a successful outcome other than ONE isolated example from SD. If they take a step back and not rush the reestablishment of a business in the soon-to-be vacant building, I think success will come much easier. Census data will soon be available and will more than likely paint a much better picture of the community and region for that matter. The master plan expired in 2009 and is quite honestly created for a much different region. Demographics have changed, industries have evolved, new businesses have sparked activity on main street. Duckwalls closing is extremely unfortunate. The City should capitalize on the community's involvement and concern regarding the Duckwalls issue and use the time to craft a community vision and a legitimate comprehensive plan that lays out the best approaches to achieving such a vision.

  2. I think the biggest disappointed blow was when area (Cambridge) people invested in the Arapahoe Bio-diesel plant. At least with the ethanol plant "community owned" or not Cambridge has an alternate place to take corn and also income from the taxes and employees (that will shop at the new store). Cambridge people took their money to Arapahoe and received nothing in the end. Not that Arapahoe didn't try, but it just didn't work out unfortunately. Now we don't even have an alternative place to take the soybeans. I think you have to remember, some times an investment into this store isn't about a return, it is about saving a trip to McCook($7 depending on gas mileage) for that last minute birthday present or that cooking utensil you need for a special project. Trust me in the last month (for me) there has been multiple times were I went to the grocery store in Cambridge and they didn't have what I needed, so it went on my list for McCook. But I do know that Duckwalls had carried it.. I can probably think of $100 dollars worth of stuff I had to buy in another town in the last month, because the store was closed. I am looking forward to the store opening again and I think it will be a success because the community will want it to be.

  3. Does anyone have any Comments now that the store has officially opened??? All I can see is GREAT JOB!!!!