Local News

Study: Build on existing retail in downtown Raleigh

Posted March 11, 2009 3:05 p.m. EDT

— City officials should focus on building on existing retail instead of trying to attract brand-name stores downtown, according to a consultant.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance hired Michael Berne of MJB Consulting to devise a plan for developing retail traffic downtown. In a report released Wednesday, Berne said efforts should initially focus on serving people who live and work downtown and those who attend events downtown.

"It is fitting with who's already here. In marketing terms, it's always easier and less costly to get more from existing customers than trying to attract a whole new one," Berne said. "There is more to be had from those existing customers. Let's get that right, and the rest will follow if that's successful."

Local specialty stores and minority-owned businesses could serve as gathering places to build a sense of community, the report said. The odds of a supermarket succeeding downtown are slim, but niche stores that attract certain demographic groups could eventually make the area a shopping destination, the report said.

Downtown Raleigh Alliance continue to recruit stores and restaurants to the central business district, and organization officials said they plan to meet with local merchants in the coming months to develop a plan to market the area better to shoppers.