EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insights on various topics in Marketplace column.
___ STEVE’S MARKETPLACE ____
Like the impressionable surface of the beach following a high tide, the face of the retail sector regularly and predictably changes here.
However, the change in the retail space just went exponential.
With longtime stalwarts Kmart and Food Lion both closing on Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach, that change alone would be significant. But as one door closes, another one opens.
The openings of retail goliaths Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx in Yulee will turn the retail sector on its side. The two department stores will compete with everyone from Walmart to Steinmart, including some smaller, locally-owned stores.
Both Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx specialize in retail with a discount flavor. They can compete on price and offerings by sheer scale. And they have deep pockets from their publicly-traded status.
While Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx are growing and expanding, some chains like Kmart and Food Lion are contracting. This is the cold way of life in the retail sector — the strong and popular often get stronger and more popular.
Some tiny, mom-and-pop retailers can withstand the assault through “local” customer service and a niche product strategy. There is always elbow room among the heavyweights to capture a profitable slice of market share.
In addition to Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx opening in the new commercial development along State Highway A1A, another Publix Supermarket will also take up residence there. The complex looks trendy and appealing, though still in its infancy phase.
Representatives of the new shopping/business complex have even contacted the owners of retail businesses in other areas, like in downtown Fernandina Beach. According to reports, representatives have solicited owners of downtown retail outlets to expand to or move to the new shopping center (next to Home Depot).
There are also changes inflicting the restaurant sector here. Not only is it widely expected that a chain-type restaurant or two will open in the same complex, but renovations at Omni Amelia Island Plantation will reportedly include new steak and sushi restaurants.
With more than 70 food licenses that are active on Amelia Island, the market for prepared food is already crowded. But as tourism continues to accelerate alongside an expanding economy, there are more mouths to feed than ever before.
One thing is certainly on the menu, however.