Spencer’s not afraid to spend on retail attraction and growth.
On Monday, the Spencer City Council approved a three-year, $50,000 per year proposal from Buxton, a Fort Worth, Texas, data analytics company that specializes in the retail industry, to help the city recruit and retain retailers.
“I think this is a great tool that we can use to help us with one of our strategic goals, which was retail and business recruitment for the City of Spencer,” Orrison said. “That’s what we all agreed upon and I think this is a step forward. We’re taking a professional approach. We’re going outside to use outside expertise.”
Robb Miller, director of sales at Buxton, attended Monday’s meeting to share information with the council.
“We’ve spent 24 years working directly with retailers,” Miller said. “So we have all of this big data that gives us the ability to shed light on how people live there lives, how they spend their money, who lives here, who works here, how they behave as consumers.”
Miller said Buxton’s goal is to determine “how do we foster new growth in your community from a retail and commercial development standpoint.”
The council approved the proposal with a 5-1 vote. Council member Ron Hanson voted against. Council member Steve Bomgaars was absent.
Hanson said he wanted more information further in advance of the meeting.
Orrison said there was a meeting prior to Monday evening’s city council meeting in which information about Buxton’s services was shared. Orrison said discussions occurred at a previous community meeting.
City Manager Amanda Mack clarified.
“Part of what brought about the conversation around Buxton was the community meeting that happened about a month ago with leaders from Main Street, the chamber, Corridor, local bankers,” she said. “So it was that same group that got together this evening.”
Hanson said he didn’t receive notification of that meeting. He also voiced concerns that this isn’t the first time Spencer has worked with Buxton – and said the previous partnership wasn’t entirely fruitful.
“I thought the data back then was spot on, but it never got any traction or it never followed through and that’s what disappointed me,” Hanson said.
Miller said Buxton’s service will differ from its previous relationship with Spencer by being broader.
“Our goal is still to identify what retail should be in your community that’s not and how do we go out and get them,” Miller said. “But we’ve evolved both in the way we support you to go recruit retail and also, in fact, that we don’t want to just focus on new retail, whether it’s national retail that goes in downtown, whether it’s big (box stores).”
Account managers will also work with community partners, Miller said, to help target new retail and support current businesses.
Buxton plans to make its marketing software, Local Store Marketing, or LSMx, available at no charge to businesses as part of the company’s agreement with the city. LSMx can help businesses set up direct mail, digital ad and social media ad campaigns to reach customers.
Buxton’s proposal provides the city with exit options after the first and second years.
Prior to voting, Orrison said he agreed with Hanson that the last Buxton partnership did not work out, but he believes this time will be different.
“From what I’ve heard this evening and from the information talking with Amanda the last several weeks, Buxton has completely changed their whole philosophy on how they attack this issue,” Orrison said. “I think hopefully we can be a star child in their portfolio.”
Council member George Moriarty said he felt it was important for Spencer to utilize new data and platforms.
“I think it’s something communities that are looking to grow are going to utilize,” Moriarty said. “And if we don’t use it, I think some other community’s going to and we might as well be the community that’s doing it here in our area.”
This post was first published by Lakes Business News.