Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Laws of Attraction (and Destination)

Wikipedia defines a tourist attraction as "a place of interest where tourists visit." A tourist destination, on the other hand, is a "city, town or other area the economy of which is dependent to a significant extent on the revenues accruing from tourism" and has multiple attractions.

For example, Silverwood is an attraction that people are willing to drive several hours to get to and spend the day there. Orlando, with dozens of huge theme parks, is a destination where people come from all over the world to spend a week or more visiting. The same comparisons can be made between the Coeur d'Alene Casino and Las vegas.

The destination principle applies to retail shopping. That is why we have auto rows, shopping malls, strip malls, and clusters of big box stores.

Scotty touched on this quite well the other day. We have two grocery stores and two building supply stores in Pullman, but the photos in the paper showed WSU students and their parents purchasing groceries and lumber at Winco and Tri-State in Moscow. Why? It's Business 101. West Pullman Road in Moscow, with Wal-Mart, the Palouse Mall, and the other large stores lining the street, is the shopping destination on the Palouse. When people think of going shopping, that is where they go; they don't drive all over town to widely separated stores.

Today, Old Navy will open in the Palouse Mall, to be followed soon by Bed, Bath and Beyond. These are shopping attractions that will further enhance the status of Moscow as the shopping destination of the Palouse.

According to last Saturday's Daily News
The first thing Lindsey Kwate, 4 and her 8-year-old sister Sarah wanted to do once they got to the Palouse Mall was to go to Old Navy.

The store isn't open quite yet, so they'll have to wait for the grand opening scheduled for Wednesday.

Old Navy, along with Bed Bath & Beyond are replacing Gottschalks, which closed over the winter.

Bed Bath & Beyond hasn't announced an official opening date, but Palouse Mall leasing and property manager Jim Bendickson estimated an opening date in the middle of August.

The Kwates slurped on smoothies from Orange Julius with their babysitter, Beth Bailey of Moscow.

"I usually go to Maurices when I go to the mall, but now that Old Navy is here I'll probably come a lot more," Bailey said.

Bendickson said he has been working for four or five years to get Old Navy to the area.

"They are marketable to students and their families in the Palouse and the Lewiston/Clarkston area," he said.

He said Bed Bath & Beyond was a little less of a challenge and has taken about two years.

"A lot of people go to Spokane to go to these stores, and now they don't have to travel as far; it's also good for the LC valley," said Stacey Holbrook, marketing director for the Palouse Mall.

Bendickson said bringing the stores to the Palouse keeps people shopping locally and not filtering out to places like Spokane or the Tri Cities.

Old Navy is employing 50 people and Bed Bath & Beyond is employing 100 people, according to Holbrook.

Bendickson said the flavor of the mall has changed over the years, but he would like to continue to include local stores into the mix.

He said he is looking forward to having more of a draw of entertainment, restaurants, foods and services at the mall.

"We are going to continue in that direction and we're working with possible tenants usually in larger major metropolitan areas, and in spring 2008 I think you're going to see tenants that have been wanted by consumers for a long time," he said. "We are looking at what can we do to add stores that complement each other, not drive each other out."

He said he has heard a lot of positive feedback from the public.

"The public is very excited about clothes coming to the area, right here in market," he said.

Melanie Waldron of Moscow walked by Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond to view the progress.

"I'm excited that the mall is getting better," she said. "It'll be nice to have more of a variety of clothes... Bed Bath & Beyond always has interesting things."

Bailey said she made a trip to Spokane to go to Old Navy last weekend.

It will be nice to have Old Navy closer by, she said.

"Going to a large city makes shopping more exciting, but it will be nice to have more variety close by," she said.
"We are going to continue in that direction and we're working with possible tenants usually in larger major metropolitan areas, and in spring 2008 I think you're going to see tenants that have been wanted by consumers for a long time." That's what our local elitists don't get. People WANT national chain stores. Only the snobs who can afford boutique shopping feel that they will "ruin our small town charm."

The Old Navy in Moscow will be like a license to print money what with two universities close by. My family does extensive back-to-school shopping at the Old Navy in Spokane Valley every year. It will be more convenient, but I'm very envious. Not as much money may escape from the Palouse now, but it sure will continue to escape from Pullman and Whitman County.

The only way Pullman can hope to become a shopping destination is to have a variety of big-time shopping attractions. That starts with the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Bishop Blvd., which is already bringing in lots of smaller retail stores. In time, Bishop Blvd. could become another West Pullman Road. But you can't just depend on those smaller, PARD-approved stores. There would be Universal Studios Orlando without Walt Disney World. And Pullman will never be a shopping destination on the Palouse without a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

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