Laramie Retail Study Points to Opportunities
Laramie has a lot to look forward to, according to a recent retail study of Laramie’s retail options and opportunities.
The City of Laramie contracted with and Austin, Texas based firm called The Retail Coach. The study examined factors such as average household income, average age and educational attainment to gather data on Laramie's retail situation.
Aaron Farmer, The Retail Coach senior vice president, said retail looks good in Laramie, due to the ‘retail trade population’ being reasonably large – the town has a large number of people who do their shopping in Laramie on a regular basis. Farmer said the University of Wyoming students are also a boon to Laramie’s retail landscape.
Sarah Reese, economic diversification and community Initiatives administrator for the City of Laramie, said Laramie’s downtown is thriving.
“I think it’s arguably the best downtown in the state,” Reese said. “So we can buy anything from boutique jewelry, to antique books to high end skis or bikes right here in our downtown area.”
The 2017 retail study showed an estimated $149 million in potential retail growth.
But there is always room for improvement and the study explored ways that Laramie could make its retail landscape more diverse and appealing.
One of the things the city and The Retail Coach looked at was online retail. Reese said the city wants to help businesses already in Laramie expand to online formats. She used Dodd’s Shoe Store located downtown as an example.
“They are a prime example of small town retail reaching a national if not global audience,” Reese said. “That’s what we hope to happened for existing businesses. Through the city, we are very interested in increasing the sales of existing retailers.”
Laramie also tends to be overlooked in terms of the larger chain establishments or big box retailers seen in other similarly sized towns. Reese said the city wants to change that.
“One of the first revelations through this study is that Laramie has frankly just been overlooked by these national retailers,” she said. “But once our retail team got Laramie on the radar, what we learned immediately is that retailers are actually quite interested in Laramie.”
Farmer said Laramie’s retail team is continuing to recruit businesses on Laramie’s behalf. A few businesses, such as Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers and Carl’s Jr., have decided to open locations in Laramie. Farmer said they are exploring many other retail options.
“We are focused on a number of different things- casual sit-down restaurants, some additional fast-food opportunities, some clothing opportunities, maybe a craft, hobby store is another thing we are looking at – so a little bit of everything to be honest,” Farmer said. “We are also searching out developers – a lot of what we are seeing in today’s retail age is developer-driven, so we are recruiting retailers but we are also recruiting developers at the same time.”
Farmer said a challenge will be changing Laramie resident’s shopping habits and giving them reasons to stay in Laramie to shop rather than to travel to Fort Collins in Colorado or Cheyenne for their shopping.
Reese said the data from the retail study is being updated regularly and is available on the City of Laramie’s website if interested Laramie residents want to view it.