The Future of Local Retail in the Age of Online Shopping

Competing in the age of Amazon and being creative in a dynamic retail landscape is no easy task when you are digging out of a sales slump or struggling with minimum wage increases and workforce shortages. Can independent local retailers do a better job giving online giants and the big boxes a run for their money? What does the future of retail hold for our small town stores?

We tackled these questions and more on KZYX Mendocino Works at 7 pm. on 2 May 2018, with three expert guests:

  • Marc Willson is a Retail Consultant working for the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network and brings 35 years of retail experience to bear in helping retail, restaurant, and tourism-related small businesses refine and promote their concepts to the public. Marc is in Mendocino county to lead Future of Retail workshops this week in Willits and Ukiah.

  • Shannon Riley is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Ukiah, and owner of Shoefly and Sox in downtown Ukiah. She's also administrator of the city's Visit Ukiah program.

  • Stephanie Garrabrant-Sierra is the recently appointed City Manager of the City of Willits, where local retails are reeling from the impact of the Willits Bypass, which allows motorists on Route 101 to bypass Willits entirely.

Customers are purchasing less for a variety of social and cultural reasons and those that do purchase are looking for more than just bargains they are seeking an experience. While we rightly worry that big boxes and online on demand distribution are crushing our local shops, there are things store owners can do to turn the tide and grow their customer base.

Retailers have to go beyond the basics to better understand their market and where and how to reach new customers where they are. New technology tools – and some old ones – can help to get you there.Partnering with local organizations like chambers of commerce and downtown associations, and Small Business Development Centers, to pull down the barriers to entry for local retailers, generating lots more retail startups and activity in your community.

Torrey Douglass