Tonganoxie retail scene ranks high
For the second consecutive year, Tonganoxie has been rated as one the "Little Giants" in retail sales in Kansas.
David Darling, Kansas State University community development economist, compared 158 communities, looking for retail activity.
His measuring stick, he said, was the amount of local sales tax generated per city. He uses that figure to calculate a town's "pull factor," an indicator of how well a community is attracting and holding onto retail business. A pull factor higher than 1.00 indicates that a town is attracting more business than it is losing. Cities with populations above 5,000 usually have a positive pull factor (above 1), and towns smaller than that tend to show a negative pull factor (less than 1).
Tonganoxie's June 2001 pull factor of 1.02, ranked the city at 13th in the state. Comparatively, in 2000, Tonganoxie's pull factor was 1.05. In recent years, Tonganoxie's lowest pull factor was tallied at .75 in 1996.
Businesses that seem to make the greatest difference are usually a general merchandise store, grocery stores and car dealerships.
"These are anchor stores in your mix, just like anchor stores in Metcalf South or the mall in Topeka," Darling said.
One of Tonganoxie's anchor stores, B&J Country Mart, is doing well, said Jim Gambrill, owner.
The store doubled its size this year and in January will open a pharmacy.
"Business has been fine," Gambrill said. "But it can always be better."
The store, he said has experienced a 13 percent growth in sales during each of the past four years.
"It keeps climbing and climbing," Gambrill said. "Of course there's more people coming into the area and so you offer more services and it keeps on going."
Kathy Bard, assistant to the city administrator, said that for about the last 10 years, Tonganoxie has levied a 1 percent tax on retail sales. The city relies on this income, Bard said.
"It comes to one-third of the city's general fund budget," she said.
Businesses such as B&J Country Mart are vital to the city's economy, she said.
"If we lost our grocery store, we would probably be in serious trouble because the grocery store is a huge player in sales tax revenue," Bard said.