■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
The San Jacinto City Council approved a three-year agreement Tuesday with Retail Strategies—a national retail firm partnering with cities to expand retail opportunities—for an economic development retail recruitment program.
“We really have two options to increase our revenue,” explained San Jacinto City Manager Rob Johnson. “We can increase the amount of homes that we have to increase our overall property tax to the city, or we can increase our volume of sales tax by attracting retailers.”
“We need to look for alternative ideas, methods, and means to cast a broader net to attract retail commercial entertainment,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz met with Retail Strategies last May at the International Council of Shopping Centers event in Las Vegas. There, Executive Vice President Joseph Fackel discussed changing San Jacinto’s message, culture, and strategy to attract business.
Instead of just providing information and presenting it to city staff, Retail Strategies will be providing San Jacinto with a quantitative market research report. Additionally, it will identify a market retail trade area, provide GAP analyses, a tapestry of lifestyle studies, aerial imaging, retail competitor mapping, analyses of future retail space requirements, and an in-market real estate analysis. To do this, the company will bring a team of people to San Jacinto for a week, walk the streets, catalog retail establishments, and evaluate commercial properties for development.
“They do the studies, they understand our community, and they come in and actually do the retail recruitment for us,” explained Johnson.
Having a competitive analysis of existing shopping centers and retail is important for the city, said Johnson.
“Think of it this way,” he said. “If all the surrounding cities have the same stuff, where are all of the competitors to those, and why didn’t we bring them here?”
Johnson believes that some businesses outside of California may be waiting to break into “the right community,” and San Jacinto might just be that community.
A short list of Retail Strategies’ national partners includes familiar names such as Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Petco, Petsmart, Office Depot, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Harbor Freight, Dunkin Donuts, Chick-fil-A, Bed Bath and Beyond, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Aldi, Ross, Marshalls, Five Guys, Trader Joe’s, and Texas Road House.
However, Johnson expressed interest in the not-so-well-known businesses, including Yeah Burger!, Char Bar 7, Revelator Coffee Company, The Local Taco, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Zaxby’s Real Chicken, Which Wich, Chuy’s Mexican Food, Hibbett Sports, Wegmans, Talbots, Pei Wei, and Moe’s.
“In my opinion, we need to embark on a different strategy,” he said.
Johnson compared San Jacinto to cities like Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, and Corona, which all seem to contrast to San Jacinto’s noticeably rural charm. He suggested that a segment of the Americana/rural population might want to relocate to San Jacinto.
Johnson also recommended that the city utilize Retail Strategies’ help in developing the City’s General Plan as they work on the economic development element.
With only three offices nationwide, 32 members, 128 partners, a 5-to-1 client-to-staff ratio, and 150 years of retail experience, Retail Strategies may be the perfect partner for the City of San Jacinto, officials believe. Nor will the firm partner with others in the vicinity while under contract to San Jacinto, officials said.
The total cost to San Jacinto of Retail Strategies contract will be $135,000 across three-years, or an average of $45,000 per year.
During the first year of the contract, within 30 days, the city will pay $20,000 for a quantitative market research study. An additional $20,000 will be paid at the end of the following 30 days for a completed in-market real estate analysis. Within 120 days of the contract’s execution, Retail Strategies will be expected to also deliver a retail recruitment plan in exchange for $10,000.
During year two, Retail Strategies will create annual invoicing, and annual updates of quantitative market research, and the city will pay $45,000, and then another $40,000 for the same services in the following year three.
With an Aldi, a Sonic, and another Starbucks already on the way for San Jacinto, the city will be facing many positive changes in the foreseeable future, officials believe.
“If you do the same thing over and over again, you’re going to get the same thing you’ve always gotten,” said Councilwoman Ruiz. “So it’s time we change that strategy.”