Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Readers want new retail, eating options

A few weeks ago, the Victoria City Council received a report on a retail study that says Victoria is missing out on more than $1 billion in business. Two of the areas that Victoria needs major improvement in were big-box clothing retailers and casual, sit-down dining options.

The building of a new 36,000-square-foot strip mall on the Houston Highway brought this information into a practical setting. So far, the center has announced it will be home to a new Dollar Tree, which will feature a frozen foods section, and Aaron's Rent To Own.

When the announcement was made and the story posted on the Advocate's website, our readers responded with more than 100 Facebook comments, many of which expressed disappointment at the plans for the new stores. Readers shared their suggestions for stores or restaurants they wanted to see come to Victoria, including Burlington Coat Factory, PetCo, Kroger's, Whole Foods, Forever 21, Michael's and Costco. Some also expressed the desire for the return of retailers and restaurants such as Gap, Fudrucker's or Old Navy, which used to be here.

Unfortunately, filling a shopping space is not as easy as calling a company and asking it to open a store in Victoria. Companies go through market studies and complicated processes to evaluate a community's economy and spending habits before deciding to open a new location. With that in mind, we hope the recent retail study can be used as a tool by the Victoria Economic Development Corp., the city and others who play a part in attracting new businesses to Victoria. If an effort is made to show the need for more retail and dining options, that could be a valuable asset that shows the potential for companies to cash in on the $1.1 billion in business being spent elsewhere by Crossroads residents because of these gaps.

Perhaps the city of Victoria should look into options to offer tax incentives to some retailers or restaurants to sweeten the deal and encourage more companies to relocate to Victoria. Residents' reactions to the strip mall's plans show that many are not satisfied with the current shopping options, and that is backed up by the results of the retail study. But as we've seen before, businesses have come and gone before. If a new business comes to Victoria, residents must also do their part and make sure they patronize the new locations, or it was all for nothing.

Victoria already has some good stores and restaurants, but more variety would be appreciated. If it comes, we plan to take full advantage of the expanded options.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.