Elizabethton city planner Jon Hartman is overseeing an effort to bridge what he calls the retail sales gap in his city.
"What our goal is with the gap is we're really trying to identify where we're seeing sales leakages and that particularly pertains to sales tax," Hartman said.
Leakages of retail dollars to Elizabethton's neighboring cities like Johnson City and Bristol. The analysis looks at where the leaks are the biggest. "The biggest gap area we're looking at is sporting goods, hobby stores, book stores," Hartman said. "Those types of retail establishments are where we're seeing the largest loss in sales going to other communities."
In downtown Elizabethton at Cannon's Fine Home Furnishings, president Chris Cannon tells us there are definite advantages for Carter Countians to buy in Betsy. "Big experience, local level and that's something we've been very successful at," Cannon said. "I think people are tired of the big box experience and they want to have a local option but still get that better service but get that great price, too."
Hartman says analysis data went on to show an over abundance of fast food restaurants in the city with a need for more sit down type dining. One way Hartman suggests closing the retail gap is for the city to encourage existing businesses to perform to their full capacity, something he says some retailers aren't doing. And that could be a marketing problem. "I feel that if we would focus more on marketing for our businesses that would definitely be a way to capture at least some of that sales leakage," Hartman said.
"I always tell people we need to keep our money as local as we can," Cannon said.