• Open for Business: Increased Development Poses Challenges and Opportunity for Local Retail Market

    Santa Maria is open for business. In recent years, the city has seen an influx of new commercial buildings and new businesses come to town. 

    “Santa Maria is on a great growth trajectory, and our new retail additions in recent years have sparked the interest of other retailers,” said Suzanne Singh, Economic Development Director for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. “ They see the opportunity here, and the need to be involved and benefit from that growth.”

    Many businesses and property management companies have already begun to experience the benefits of this growth.

    Ally Green is the Vice President of Marketing for Westar Associates, the property management company for The Crossroads shopping center and College Square shopping center in Santa Maria. Green says they have seen an increase in customers visiting Santa Maria to shop, which has benefitted their shopping centers.

    “The enhanced retail development along the Betteravia intersection continues to attract consumers across the Central Coast,” Green explained. “The new additions, such as Lowe’s and Costco, to the already existing retail hub has made The Crossroads shopping center and surrounding commercial developments more valuable and attractive to prospective tenants.”

    Green says the growth of the housing marketing in Santa Maria has also been a benefit for retail.

    “As the housing market continues to grow in Santa Maria, so will retail development and redevelopment,” Green said. “While this may create more competition in attracting prospective tenants, the commercial growth in the trade area will attract new businesses that may have not have previously considered the Santa Maria market.”

    While Santa Maria’s growth has brought opportunities for local retail, business owners and property managers are grappling with challenges presented from the rising popularity of online shopping. 

    “The increased presence of e-commerce in the retail industry and changes in consumer spending habits have required tenants to increase their omni-channel marketing efforts and direct shipping services in order to remain competitive,” Green said. 

    Westar Associates have seen this result in many of their big box tenant decreasing square footage requirements and opting for smaller retail space.

    “We’ve had to become more aggressive in attracting traditional anchor businesses or be willing to consider non-traditional retail units in big box vacancies, such as co-working concepts and entertainment venues,” Green explained.  “In addition, several medical concept businesses are moving to retail shopping centers due to the customers’ increased desire for a more convenient experience both closer to home and other businesses that they frequently visited.”

    Singh, who works with many local businesses looking to open in Santa Maria or grow their existing business, says she has seen businesses begin to adapt to challenges posed from the growing popularity of online shopping.

    “Most of the larger retailers have an online component to their current business plan,” Singh said. “Our local retailers are moving in that direction and will eventually be as robust in the online marketplace as the larger retailers to stay competitive.”

    Though local retailers are facing new challenges, business continues to boom in Santa Maria. Wester Associates recently developed two new building pads at The Crossroads shopping center located along South Bradley road. The new development consists of a 5,500 square foot pad with a drive thru, and a 16,000 square foot building pad for lease. 

    “Krispy Kreme will occupy 2,760 square feet of the 5,500 square foot building pad and is projected to open Quarter 4 of 2019,” Green said. “Businesses opening in The Crossroads shopping center in 2020 include Work World and Golden Corral.”

    In a market competing with online retail and regional competition, Santa Maria remains open for business.

    “Santa Maria’s population has grown and we continue to be the largest city along our region of the Central Coast,” Singh said. “That growth will continue, and with population growing, more retail and services will follow.”