December 21, 2018 06:46 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- For years, community members in Albert Lea have asked city leaders to bring more shopping and employment options to town. Now, the city is sharing preliminary results of a new initiative designed to do just that.
Six months ago, the city began working with Alabama-based Retail Strategies to more effectively market Albert Lea to retailers and others, City Manager Chad Adams said.
"Then we started to see some businesses closing, so we felt a little bit more of an urgency to contract with a company like this to actually go out and recruit retailers," he said.
In the time since, Retail Strategies has talked with 22 businesses, five of which are actively considering setting up shop in Albert Lea, Adams said.
"We're getting some good feedback from some of those direct conversations and connections between Retail Strategies and retailers that there's an interest to be in Albert Lea, so now it's just a matter of trying to keep things moving forward," he said.
The city's most recent citizen survey shows just 18 percent of respondents feel positive about the city's shopping options. Hiring the consultant is one way the city is hoping to boost that number.
It's not just large businesses eyeing Albert Lea; on Nov. 22, Detroit native-turned-Albert Lea resident Charmaine Tinsley opened her new clothing store, Couture Queen, inside Northbridge Mall.
Tinsley had developed a network of customers from her time working in the beauty industry in town, but she longed to start a new business. That's when she found the space in the mall.
"I needed somewhere to lease the spot and when I saw the mall was empty it was like this voice inside of me," she said. "It was like an overwhelming sense of 'They need you here.'"
Touting her people skills and belief that all women should be a queen, Tinsley said she wants to give people an experience unlike what they're used to and unlike what they can get online.
"I thought 'why not bring options that they've never seen and stuff that I've never seen here in Albert Lea?'" she said.
While Herberger's was still open at the other end of the mall when she signed the lease, Tinsley's store now fills a niche brought on by the national chain's departure.
The store lets her be her own boss and give to the community in her own way.
"I've made so many friends, I've met so many people," she said. "I've got customers coming from Austin, I've got customers coming from Mason City; it's a feeling I can't describe."
Created: December 21, 2018 06:46 PM
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