Clinton is already well known as a destination for its antiques retail cluster. Complementary shopping opportunities will bring a stronger foundation to local retail as well as attracting visitors. There are several “niches” that complement the antiques services: Arts and Crafts; Food-for-the Home; and Recreation Services.
THE OPPORTUNITY TREND
Small towns excel at providing authentic experiences. Visitors can easily connect with culture, history and a sense of place all in a walkable-sized package in a small town. International travellers are starting to make rural communities a destination must, seeking out local artists, authentic foods and hidden gems rather than famous sites. The buzz in urban planning (placemaking, walkability, public spaces) are what small towns are all about. Plus, it is easier for a niche retailer to get involved and make a difference, and a smaller project can make a bigger splash.
RETAIL SALES ARE THRIVING
Retail sales in BC were $71 billion in 2015, which works out to per capita expenditures of about $15,000 annually (BC Stats 2016). For the Clinton area alone that amounts to a market of $45 million, not accounting for visitor purchases. The visitor market potential easily surpasses the local trade sector. The antique stores are a good example of a destination cluster that draws from far afield and does not rely on a local market.
STABLE WITH ROOM FOR GROWTH
For a community like Clinton the fact remains that the economic and employment base is very stable and has remained virtually unchanged in recent years. In 2001, 10.4 percent of the labour force was in retail; in 2011 it was 10.1 percent. This means that despite the underlying challenges facing the retail industry (online shopping, big box stores), local businesses are adapting and surviving.
NICHE RETAIL IS PROFITABLE
The success rate within the niche marketplace is healthy. For general retail stores (NACIS 453999) in 2012, 72 percent of businesses were profitable with averaging revenues of $460,000 annually. For retail bakeries (NACIS 311811) approximately 70 percent were profitable in 2012, with the profitable firms generating average revenues of $540,000 per year.