Huron store competition may affect Mitchell
Two local economic experts predict the opening of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter next week in Huron will affect Mitchell's economy. Bryan Hisel, executive director of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce...
Two local economic experts predict the opening of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter next week in Huron will affect Mitchell's economy.
Bryan Hisel, executive director of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, said Mitchell will probably see a temporary adverse impact on its taxable sales, which grew at an average annual rate of 7.56 percent during the last 10 years.
"The growth of our taxable sales overall may be smaller or nonexistent this next 12 months," Hisel said.
The slowdown in taxable sales growth will be caused largely by people going to Huron's Wal-Mart instead of Mitchell's, Hisel said. Dave Mitchell, a professor of business administration and economics at Dakota Wesleyan University, agreed.
Mitchell said some people north of here and west of state Route 37 are likely to start traveling more to Huron. Still, he said, the Mitchell Wal-Mart is not likely to suffer terribly from having another store open 50 miles to the north.
"I'm sure Wal-Mart's done its studies," Mitchell said. "I'm sure they're convinced that it's not going to hurt their store down here to open up a store there."
Mitchell and Hisel said some other stores in Mitchell that benefited from the increased traffic generated by Wal-Mart may also be impacted. But Hisel said people will continue to drive to Mitchell for its unique offerings, including Cabela's and Menards.
"If you're looking to have a fun weekend or day of shopping, Mitchell has become an alternative (to bigger cities)," Hisel said. "A unique name and a unique store is a powerful draw, not just in the region but in a multistate area."
A Wal-Mart, in and of itself, does not make a city a unique destination, Hisel said. People north and west of Mitchell may start going to Huron's Wal-Mart, he said, but they will still come to Mitchell for the other unique shopping and eating experiences to which they have become accustomed.
Hisel said the new Wal-Mart in Huron could be viewed as a positive for Mitchell, because it could add to the overall growth of the population and economy in the James River valley. Besides, Hisel said, the main competitors for Mitchell and other cities in eastern South Dakota are not each other, but the Internet and Sioux Falls.
"A healthy, vibrant Huron is not a bad thing for Mitchell," Hisel said. "... We have to get past the feeling that someone else having good things happen somehow weakens us. I don't buy into that."
Hisel said Huron has been trying to attract a major retailer for years. Mitchell already has several "big-box" retailers, and Hisel said the main goal locally should be steadily building the city's population through the addition of core jobs in the manufacturing, office and communications industries.
"It's less about recruiting retail than it is about building a population base that can support retail and more of it," Hisel said.
Huron's new Wal-Mart is in the southern part of the city. The Barn restaurant, a regionally known eatery, was closed to make way for the store. The site will also be home to a new Running's Farm and Fleet and a strip mall.