Retail recruiting consultant makes pitch to city leaders
Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017
NATCHEZ — City officials heard a pitch Tuesday night from a retail recruiting service that believes it can enhance Natchez’s retail landscape for approximately $30,000 a year.
Mississippi native Casey Kidd, CEO of retail consultant company NaviRetail, LLC, made a presentation to the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Mayor Darryl Grennell at a special call work session in the City Council Chambers.
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Others attendees included Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Hudson, Natchez Convention Center Manager Walter Tipton, FOR Natchez President Chesney Doyle, Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ and downtown farmer’s market coordinator Eddie Burkes.
During his pitch, Kidd said his company uses a combination of cellphone and credit card data, conducting retailer-led workshops and representing cities at trade shows to recruit retailers.
Stressing the importance of the data, the 27-year-old said the pairing of GPS data from cellphones and credit card information allows NaviRetail to not only determine every unique consumer of a certain business over the past three or four years and the area in which they live, but also their shopping habits in order to form what he called a “retail trade area.”
These areas can be used to pitch cities to retailers by showing the market potential.
Kidd also said the company attends 15 trade shows a year and called having representation at those events “imperative” for the city in its recruitment efforts.
As a company that is only two years old, Kidd noted that NaviRetail is still growing; the staff currently consists of 10 team members.
Grennell asked Kidd about the company’s success rate. Instead of providing an exact figure, Kidd said that NaviRetail’s longest-tenured client, a southern town which has been with the company for a year and a half, had successfully recruited three retailers over that time: two big-box stores and one small hardware store.
When asked by Grennell if he believed despite certain challenges — such as the lack of a nearby interstate or competition from online retailers such as Amazon — that Natchez could successfully attracted retailers, Kidd answered emphatically.
“I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Kidd said.
When asked by Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis what Kidd has seen in Natchez driving into town that evening, Kidd responded that he believes Natchez has plenty of characteristics that could attract people, but retail is currently not one of them.
“I think what that’s going to take is that we’re going to have to add to the selection of retailers that are here in order for it to be a retail destination,” Kidd said.
“I feel like a lot of people that shop here might be doing so out of necessity, but if you really want to make the tax revenue that you could out of the retailers that would want to build stores in this town … then you’re going to have to get past the necessity. You’re going to have to have things that they might want to come here and buy.”
Kidd said the services his company provides that typically most benefit cities would cost approximately $30,000 in the first 12 months, with zero commitment required after that time frame.
“We are so confident, basically, that we can accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish within 12 months and that you’ll want to hire us for years two; years three; four, five, six, that we don’t have any obligation outside of the first year.”
Kidd said a three-year agreement is typically what companies in his industry require.
If a city decides to re-up after the first year, costs generally are cut in half at that point, Kidd said.
Once the floor opened for questions, Doyle, who is leading the group that spearheaded Natchez’s downtown revitalization project, said that if the city moves forward with NaviRetail, she does not want these new efforts to conflict with what FOR Natchez has started.
“What we were hoping is that if the city decides to move forward with NaviRetail, that we could work together and the focus of this could be on helping recruit businesses for downtown,” Doyle said.
Doyle also mentioned that one of the consultants working on the downtown revitalization effort, Randall Gross, has already conducted a retail market analysis for downtown.
Kidd ensured that ways existed to make sure these efforts do not compete.
Earlier Monday, Doyle also sent Grennell and the aldermen a memo asking that their top priority would be to hire a director for the Natchez Downtown Development Association, a now defunct organization that had worked to promote downtown Natchez. Doyle said in the memo that recruiting retail would be part of the director’s job and the recommended salary for the director would be $60,000 to $70,000. Doyle did not mention these particular comments at the meeting.
After the meeting, Grennell said the city would have to consider the city’s current financial state to determine whether to hire NaviRetail.
More information about what the company offers can be found at www.naviretail.com