City officials are actively seeking new businesses for the buildings soon to be vacated by Kmart and Factory 2 U.
The separate corporations running the businesses announced the closure of the two Ceres stores earlier this year.
At the Dec. 10 City Council meeting, newly-seated Councilman Channce Condit asked city of Ceres Economic Development Manager Steve Hallam to educate him and the council on how the city is recruiting new businesses to fill the vacancies – both of which are within Condit’s Council District #1 on Hatch Road. Factory 2-U is completely closed and Kmart is liquidating its stock through the holidays.
Hallam explained that the market and demographics are the main drivers of retailers to any city. He said the city uses the annual Retail Sales and Gap Analysis Report to identify the types of businesses that are deficient in the community.
“Frankly, that is typically the best tool we have to look at, okay, what are the retailers that we can market that fills a gap we have in our retail sales,” Hallam told Condit and council.
Hallam explained that he routinely emails businesses and corporations in an effort to entice them to Ceres. The city maintains a Retail Lease Track document, offered through Opportunity Stanislaus, that serves as a “cookbook” of demographic standards which businesses look at in deciding to locate in a community.
“My experience is when a retailer comes to you or you’ve identified a site, nine times out of 10 that retailer has already decided they want to come into our market or they don’t. Very often, local economic development people are kind of behind the times from a retailer operation.”
There are exceptions, however. Hallam said when Staples left Ceres, city staff brainstormed ideas for retailers that could fill the building while filling a local retail need. Because they knew that Ceres captures only about nine percent of Ceres’ retail apparel needs, and because they knew dd’s discounts was doing well in Ceres and that the parent company owns Ross Dress for Less stores, the city shot a cold email to Ross. The company liked the idea of coming to Ceres and set up shop.
“That is rare,” Hallam told Condit.
With the two vacancies on Hatch, the city sent a “cold email” to a retailer named Five Below – which Hallam termed a “step up from Dollar General” – because the company is looking to open 80 stores in California next year. The company only has a footprint in the Los Angeles basin. The company expressed interest in checking out the Kmart building.
City Manager Toby Wells said he and staff have contacted the new owner of the Kmart property and they plan to market the property or sell it to a new buyer. He said the 88,000 square feet may lend itself to splitting the building up four ways or so.
“The number of retailers that could occupy that full space is pretty limited when you look across the full spectrum of where retail is headed,” said Wells. “So it’s likely, depending on what the owner wants to do with that building, it may mean a different shape or form and so we need their help to show us where they’re headed.” He told Condit that the marketing effort to fill a 20,000-square-foot retail space is different than trying to lure someone to fill 88,000 square feet.
Condit suggested letting WinCo Foods know of the Kmart vacancy, noting that the WinCo distribution warehouse is located on Crows Landing Road south of Service Road.