According to the Daily Camera Albertsons will soon join a list of retailers who have left town over the last several years. The others I can think of are Sears, JC Penney, and KMart. Boulder was not specifically targeted in these closings. This time it’s no different. Every closing was part of a larger plan by these companies to close down stores that in their judgement were under-performing. The interesting thing is most of these retailers have stores just outside of Boulder. There’s a Sears and a KMart in Longmont.
According to the Daily Camera, the Albertsons store on Iris and the one along 30th St. will be closed in the next couple months. The Albertsons stores in Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, and Westminster are staying open.
It’s not because these towns have less competition. There are Wal-Marts in Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville, and they have grocery sections. Talk to any grocer and they’ll tell you that Wal-Mart is definitely competition for them. Sears and KMart also face stiff competition from Wal-Mart, yet they’re still operating in at least one town in Boulder County that has one. Ironically, they’ve all left the one town in the region that does not have a Wal-Mart: Boulder. Truth is stranger than fiction. You’d think all these retailers would be dying to stay here, what with all the talk about how withering Wal-Mart’s competitive tactics are.
So one would suspect that it might have something to do with Boulder’s policies towards these stores, but I think it has more to do with Boulder’s policies towards residential land development. It might be that Boulder has been going through a demographic shift, and the customer base here just wants something different. As a result of Boulder’s land planning, property values have risen. Poor and middle class families have probably been moving out, and more wealthy residents have been moving in. There are a lot of people who commute into Boulder because they can’t afford to live here. Low-cost retailers probably do well in the outlying towns because that’s where more affordable housing is, so their clientele shops there, rather than here.
What I’ve noticed tends to happen with the larger vacant lots that come open as a result of a store leaving, is that another store comes in to take its place fairly quickly. When KMart left its location at Iris and 28th St., a large Safeway moved into that location. Before this, Safeway had been trying for a few years to open up a store in North Boulder, but ran into resistance from citizens. When the opportunity presented itself, they took it. So, I’m optimistic the same thing will happen here. Hey, maybe we’ll get a Wal-Mart after all…Nah!
Also, this should help Boulder’s tax base in the long run. If a store is under-performing, that also means it’s taking up space and is not producing that much tax revenue for the city. It’s better that such stores move out so that stores with a larger clientele can move in and thereby increase tax revenues through sales taxes.