Capital Crossroads SID was excited to be part of the KickStart Columbus retail initiative (click here to learn more). However, the need for a program like KickStart Columbus reflects a problem that exists downtown for budding retailers: the lack of affordable and usable retail space. Much of the available retail space in the downtown area is either too large for the kind of small, independent retailer looking to open a business downtown, or requires significant renovation, or both.
Unfortunately, many downtown landlords have been slow to re-calibrate the available space to a new kind of retail market. The days of chain retailers opening their doors downtown is for the most part behind us. But an exciting new array of independent retailers stands ready to open shop in the urban core.
It’s the oldest tale in economics: that of supply and demand. Now that the demand for retail space has shifted from old chain retailers to smaller, independent retailers, the supply needs to adjust. While some landlords may be leery of the perceived risk of this new breed of retailer, the success of retail clusters that have developed on Gay Street and Fourth Street demonstrate that offering space of an appropriate size and price can succeed.
It requires a shift in mindset and an acknowledgement that a cluster of smaller retailers, whose businesses build on and support those around them, can create a thriving retail environment, though different from the old chain store days.
“As I work with individuals interested in opening retail space downtown, too often we find a lack of space that is appropriately sized and priced for a small start-up,” explained Business Recruiter Kacey Brankamp. “Retailers are in need of space that is "white boxed," affordable and in an area with demand, and those spaces need to be grouped together in a continuous stretch or cluster.”
Brankamp continues to court independent retailers and to encourage landlords to re-size and renovate their retails spaces. This has already been successful downtown on Gay Street, and its success is evident throughout the Short North, so Brankamp is hopeful that such success can duplicated in other areas of downtown.