They will determine the potential for sales and then try to help Bishop merchants to keep customers from shopping out of town. Two executives from the firm, Retail Coach, came to Bishop last week to personally check out the retail trade area of the community.
We spoke with Retail Coach CEO Kelly Cofer, who said that he and Aaron Farmer spoke with more than 15 retailers, restaurants and consumers in and around Bishop. Cofer said they checked out the trade area boundaries and will determine the retail potential.
“We will try to assist the existing merchants to stop the outflow of dollars,” said Cofer. He added that his firm will draw boundary maps of the trade area, determine the demographic profile – ethnicity and income.
They pair will return in January and hold at least two meetings to hear more from local officials, merchants and citizens at large. Can they claim successes in other towns? Cofer said, “In every community we’ve been able to help.” He pointed to Bishops limitations in terms of expansion and said the focus is on existing merchants and the possibility of different product lines and other strategies.
Cofer said it’s important to open lines of communication between business owners and people in the Eastern Sierra communities. He pointed to the obvious market conflict – tourists versus local people. Cofer said by catering to exclusively one or the other, businesses sometimes lose out.
As a foot note, we had heard criticism from local people over the fact that the City of Bishop hired a Texas firm to analyze out of town shopping. When asked about this, Bishop City Administrator Jim Southworth said that there are very few firms that do this kind of work and none locally or in California.