Newnan Chamber to Host State of Commerce/Retail: Art vs. Science Lunch at Ashley Park

Staff Report From Newnan CEO

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

The Newnan-Coweta Chamber will host a “State of Commerce/Retail” Lunch on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the former Jos. A. Bank store at 376 Newnan Crossing Bypass.
A panel discussion will be moderated by Assistant City Manager Hasco Craver of the City of Newnan, and the speakers will include Ashley Park General Manager Mark Curran, Senior Project Manager Retail-Commercial Guy (Mill) Graves with Electric Cities of Georgia, Senoia Downtown Development Authority Chairman Suzanne Helfman and Main Street Newnan Manager Courtney Harcourt.
The Chamber’s popular “State of Community” Lunch Series began last year with programs that focused on local government, education and health care. A program earlier this year focused on economic development, so Chamber leaders decided it was time for a focus on Coweta’s growing retail sector.
“We’re hearing more and more about how Coweta County is a great place to live, work and play, and of course we also enjoy pointing out that it’s a great place to shop as well,” said Newnan-Coweta Chamber President and CEO Candace Boothby. “From our hugely successful Ashley Park retail development to the wonderful charm of our vibrant downtown areas in Newnan and Senoia, Coweta County is truly a regional shopping destination with something for everyone.”
Hasco Craver, who served as Newnan’s business development director before assuming his new duties for the city last fall, continues to stay abreast of retail trends and said he looks forward to sharing information about the “science” of retail. Today’s commerce is almost entirely data-driven, he said, and retailers today want to see the numbers on everything from “rooftops” (number of households) and per capita income to sizes of available retail sites and daily traffic patterns.
Newnan is well positioned in the retail scene, according to Craver. He said that while a store like Kroger will usually draw mainly from its immediate neighborhood, Newnan also has stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a shopper from nearby Troup County will make the drive here just to shop at Dick’s since their county doesn’t have one.
While it’s true that e-commerce, especially from giants like Amazon, has altered the retail landscape, Craver said, “I don’t think we have to worry” about losing old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores anytime soon. He noted that Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers, and he said this sometimes-criticized group is actually a positive one for retailers since they are known for desiring “authentic” experiences that are readily available in a place like Coweta County. A Millennial might not care to visit a chain like Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Atlanta, but they value the fact that they can actually have a conversation with the chef at a place like Meat ’n Greet in downtown Newnan, Craver said.
And it’s no accident that leaders from downtown Senoia and downtown Newnan are on the upcoming Chamber program. Downtowns “are very different, but the foundations (in retail) are all the same,” Craver said. He said that someone who is a loyal customer of a certain brand of men’s shirt might drive out to Ashley Park to quickly get a new shirt at Dillard’s, but the customer who wants to spend more time with the merchant and talk about size and selection can find that experience at C.S. Toggery on the square in downtown Newnan. “ The entities aren’t at war with each other,” Craver said. “They complement each other.”
The “State of Commerce/Retail” Lunch on June 21 is sponsored by Newnan CEO, Coweta-Fayette EMC and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Registration for the lunch is $35 for Chamber Members and their guests and $50 for General Admission.