News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

November 5, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Nov. 5, 2013

Meijer better in northside location

Another good news-bad news scenario for Terre Haute. The major retailer Meijer wants to build a store here in Terre Haute. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are planning to build it in the wrong location.

According to published reports, Meijer is currently in negotiations to build its shopping center at the northeast corner of the New Margaret Drive. While this property is part of the economic development zone for the airport (a positive), it is not in the most competitive location for the shoppers it intends to draw. Let me explain my reasoning.

A few years ago Walmart was interested in building a second “Super Center” in Terre Haute and a site on Ft. Harrison Road was being considered. Residents in the north end of town, like myself, were elated. Finally “north enders” would have another shopping choice for groceries and sundries without making the trek to the south end of town.

Excitement and anticipation were soon replaced by disappointment and disbelief when behind-the-scenes negotiations stole Walmart away and placed it a mere five miles or so from its existing facility on U.S. 41 and the second store was indeed built on Indiana 46. That theft and subsequent favors to the developer by the city was a major factor in the election of a new mayor.

Allow me to digress for a moment. Menard’s and Lowe’s are major competitors and yet they successfully coexist here in what many would consider a limited market (based on the population size and the economic cross section of Terre Haute.) Why? What I would call “safe separation.” Menard’s draws it clientele from the north end of Terre Haute plus the northern municipalities of Clinton and Rockville. Likewise most Lowe’s customers come from the south end of Terre Haute and residents of southern towns like Sullivan and Riley. Similarly Kroger has three locations in town; each is logistically located with “safe separation.”

I believe Meijer should locate in the north end, perhaps the site formerly considered by Walmart for its second shopping center. A north end location would afford Meijer the “safe separation” I believe would secure a substantial number of clients not only from the northern half of this city, but points north like Clinton and Rockville as well.

Disclaimer: Yes, I live in the north end of town and there would be an individually selfish benefit if Meijer were to build near me. However, let me assure you, I own no amount of land that could be considered as a building site and therefore I am not seeking to line my pockets or help anyone else line theirs for that matter. My opinion and personal assessment are based upon what I believe would be most beneficial to Terre Haute and to the long-term success of Meijer.

— Douglas Elia

Terre Haute

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