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Old 03-31-2018, 09:54 AM
 
2 posts, read 967 times
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It seems to me that many of our old "hangouts" are becoming haunts. How many will admit saying to their child(ren) "When I was growing up, we hung out there." Places such as the Ft. Henry Mall, the Gold Mine, the skating rink, familiar parking lots are becoming has beens- and we don't even have a skating rink anymore. I was there almost every time the doors were open. Our young adults really have nothing like we had back in the day. I don't understand why things have taken the place of just hanging out and having fun because most all of us want our kids to stay away from drugs but also to have good clean fun as a youngster. What happened to spending all your yard mowing money on pieces and parts for your 'race car' to cruise and look good on Broad Street and not having the money to take your girl to anywhere but a fast food place? Most of the time, we didn't care because we looked good in that passenger seat with you!
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Old 03-31-2018, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Kingsport
184 posts, read 218,315 times
Reputation: 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
Yeah, that 50+ demographic is probably accurate. They need to pull in the younger crowd, otherwise they'll remain the same or continue declining for sure.

I agree that the mall dug itself a hole so deep that it is hard to get out of now. Also, I think the mall is at an overall disadvantage too in terms of location. It sits at Memorial Blvd and Fort Henry Drive, two roads that are locally important, but not major highways like John B Dennis, Stone Drive, or at an intersection with the interstates of I-26 or I-81.

In terms of a restaurant, a chain like Ruby Tuesday's format would do well there--not specifically Ruby Tuesday's....but it could thrive too, I would think. If the mall really could negotiate and win back chains successfully, a HUGE win would be a chik fil a in that spot. But, that would be a shocker and probably not gonna happen...we'll see.
50+ is the Kingsport market. That's the largest segment of the Kingsport population right now. But there are more people over 65 than 19 and under and 29 people a week are turning 65. Millennials have a small share of the local population, but the group is not a roust retail prospect. I think the reality is retailing and service providers in Kingsport - and the ret of the region for that matter - will have to more and more focus on the wants and needs of that older generation. And from what I read the name of the game is providing both the product and specialized service. Unfortunately too many look at this component of the demographic as a problem, not a resource. Those who do understand the longevity economy stand to profit. Those who don't have a tough row to how.
And, this isn't just a Kingsport issue. While Johnson City has a slightly younger demographic its population is aging almost as fast as the rest of the area and the birth rate is not higher. In fact, the 2017 birth rate in Sullivan County was higher than it was in Washington County.
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Old 03-31-2018, 09:00 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,180 posts, read 21,994,118 times
Reputation: 36145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Page2 View Post
50+ is the Kingsport market. That's the largest segment of the Kingsport population right now. But there are more people over 65 than 19 and under and 29 people a week are turning 65. Millennials have a small share of the local population, but the group is not a roust retail prospect. I think the reality is retailing and service providers in Kingsport - and the ret of the region for that matter - will have to more and more focus on the wants and needs of that older generation. And from what I read the name of the game is providing both the product and specialized service. Unfortunately too many look at this component of the demographic as a problem, not a resource. Those who do understand the longevity economy stand to profit. Those who don't have a tough row to how.
And, this isn't just a Kingsport issue. While Johnson City has a slightly younger demographic its population is aging almost as fast as the rest of the area and the birth rate is not higher. In fact, the 2017 birth rate in Sullivan County was higher than it was in Washington County.
I agree Kingsport is mostly a 50+ city. The mall has to cater to the needs of its customer base. With that said, progress has all but stalled on the mall's rehabilitation. Tilt, the arcade that has been in the mall since I've been a kid through thick and thin, was supposedly kicked out by the new owners saying Tilt's clientele didn't match their expectations. I think this is the wrong move. There have been at least two retro arcades, one in Johnson City, one in Bristol, that are doing well. This concept could have been leveraged well instead of run out of town.

Kingsport residents 25 or younger don't even remember a healthy mall. The mall isn't on their radar. Many customers who do remember a healthy mall have moved on.

Kingsport isn't The Villages or a similar true retirement community. The plants, smell, pollution, and crime are going to continue to be headwinds. Even among seniors, I rarely hear Kingsport mentioned as potential relocation destination for people not from the area. Kingsport retains a lot of natives who are currently seniors. To be frank, I have no idea why Kingsport interests seniors. Johnson City is a far nicer and more livable city. I could see an argument being made for Bristol for those looking at a slightly lower price point and slower pace of life. I don't understand the appeal of Kingsport at all.

The birth rate bit is interesting. My guess is that the higher birthrate comes from a less affluent base of child bearing age women in Sullivan County.
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Old 03-31-2018, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
7,135 posts, read 10,430,789 times
Reputation: 6018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Page2 View Post
50+ is the Kingsport market. That's the largest segment of the Kingsport population right now. But there are more people over 65 than 19 and under and 29 people a week are turning 65. Millennials have a small share of the local population, but the group is not a roust retail prospect. I think the reality is retailing and service providers in Kingsport - and the ret of the region for that matter - will have to more and more focus on the wants and needs of that older generation. And from what I read the name of the game is providing both the product and specialized service. Unfortunately too many look at this component of the demographic as a problem, not a resource. Those who do understand the longevity economy stand to profit. Those who don't have a tough row to how.
And, this isn't just a Kingsport issue. While Johnson City has a slightly younger demographic its population is aging almost as fast as the rest of the area and the birth rate is not higher. In fact, the 2017 birth rate in Sullivan County was higher than it was in Washington County.
Yeah, good points about Kingsport and the region having to embrace and accept the "over 50 demographic" as being it's market. That is probably what needs to happen to survive--and thrive for businesses.

It will be interesting to see how the region continues to grow through the 2020s. I think the tri-cities will continue to be a retiree destination. Many folks from the north and midwest love the natural mountain beauty, the quieter pace of life, and the abundant lakes and rivers in the tri-cities region. Plus, healthcare is good, houses are inexpensive and the winters are relatively easy and mild, compared to up north.

As far as the mall goes, they are still working on the renovation and recently added new signage (it looks really well done too) at 2 new entrances from the street. The renovation of the mall seems to be humming along nicely, but the business development/marketing of the mall is either not very convincing or focused, or the reality is that a lot of business do not want to risk opening stores in a mall in a city of around 50,000 people/300,000 metro--especially with Johnson City's thriving mall about 25 miles away.

Not sure what is up, but they need a new angle to lure in new stores, otherwise the renovation was pretty much done to just maintain the few stores that are still holding on.
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Old 03-31-2018, 11:00 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
7,135 posts, read 10,430,789 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
Kingsport isn't The Villages or a similar true retirement community. The plants, smell, pollution, and crime are going to continue to be headwinds. Even among seniors, I rarely hear Kingsport mentioned as potential relocation destination for people not from the area. Kingsport retains a lot of natives who are currently seniors. To be frank, I have no idea why Kingsport interests seniors. Johnson City is a far nicer and more livable city. I could see an argument being made for Bristol for those looking at a slightly lower price point and slower pace of life. I don't understand the appeal of Kingsport at all.
I really don't think the smell is as big of an issue to most people though? I know it is definitely not desirable, but I've never met someone (honestly and I grew up in Church Hill) who says they would leave Kingsport or not move to Kingsport because of the smell.
People I grew up with who live in Kingsport for decades/generations never bring it up. It smells maybe twice/three times per week that is noticeable--and only if directly downtown or if the wind is blowing a certain direction or the air is stagnant. It's not a terrible smell, in my opinion either--call me crazy haha.

Johnson City is a great option for sure. I really love a lot that is has going for it--ETSU being there adds a terrific energy to it. I think JC's growth benefits Kingsport, and vice-versa. (Bristol as well) If all 3 cities worked together as one more cohesive unit, I think the whole region would continue to benefit from not only retirees, but also Gen Xers and Millenials and the new generations beyond these.
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Old 04-01-2018, 04:03 AM
 
Location: Kingsport
184 posts, read 218,315 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post

Johnson City is a great option for sure. I really love a lot that is has going for it--ETSU being there adds a terrific energy to it. I think JC's growth benefits Kingsport, and vice-versa. (Bristol as well) If all 3 cities worked together as one more cohesive unit, I think the whole region would continue to benefit from not only retirees, but also Gen Xers and Millenials and the new generations beyond these.
Population, retail and economic growth is not a zero-sum game divided among cities local 20-25 miles apart. As much as some don't like to admit it, each city gets some benefit for growth in the others. And the commuter patterns here show that big numbers of Bristol and Johnson City residents commute to Kingsport. At the same time a lot of Kingsport resident commute. And when you compare totals Johnson City is the commute target for the largest number of cities.

State Data Center projects put the year that Washington County will outpace Sullivan in population at 2019 or 2020. But I think population is just one measure of success. The local government that serves its citizens well and efficiently is a bigger point.
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
7,135 posts, read 10,430,789 times
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A sidenote observation--

I was over at the Mall at Johnson City yesterday (a Sunday), and it was bustling with crowds of people. The center of the mall had carts upon carts of vendors selling items from food to tshirts to leather goods, etc. A boat show was going on, and boats were on display in the center of the mall at various points.

There were several new stores that had opened, and several more "coming soon." Sears is still there and seemed decently busy, as did JCPenny with the Sephora beauty area within the JCPenny, and Belk was bustling too. On Saturday, I heard that food trucks were lined up in the parking lot, and it was absolutely packed.

This mall really makes me scratch my head and completely defies the past few years of the national trend in retail of total stagnation, decline and bankruptcy. For all intents and purposes, this mall should be a mirror image of what has happened at Fort Henry Mall the past 10 years or so--but instead it is a bustling, vibrant, "go-to destination," in the region for shopping.

So, I had to pop into the Fort Henry Mall in Kingsport, as a comparison, on my way from Johnson City. Granted, it was 530pm on a Sunday, but Fort Henry Mall seemed like almost total opposite. The area around the theater was bustling, as was the area around Piccadilly--and Belk still had a lot of shoppers. But inside the mall, the traffic was slow to very little. It is safe to say it has to do with many of the sheetrocked, but muraled over, storefronts that line the mall's halls.

This mall is on life support, despite the millions I'm sure the new owners have invested in it over the past 2 years or so. I'm not sure what their plan is for Fort Henry, but whatever they are doing, it is not working to draw in new stores.
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,180 posts, read 21,994,118 times
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One thing to keep in mind is that not all malls are doing poorly across the country. Higher end malls tend to be doing better. The Johnson City Mall, at least for the better part of two decades, has been the higher end, "destination" mall between Knoxville and Asheville.

The Johnson City Mall has typically had the first or only of a store in the area (Hollister, American Eagle, Aeropostale all came to JC first - JC has the only remaining Sears, only Hot Topic, and some smaller stuff) and much nicer Belk/Penney's than Kingsport has had. That mindset of JC Mall being in first place really hasn't changed.

Even with all the efforts into rehabilitating the Fort Henry Mall, you can't win back your customers overnight. As Fort Henry declined, consumer behavior shifted to other shopping centers in the area. I don't know how, or even if, that can change, but I remain skeptical that it will. I think the mall was simply too far gone, which caused people to shop elsewhere, for too long, which caused people to completely dismiss the mall in the state it was in. Honestly, I think it would have been better if the mall had outright closed rather than continuing on in a zombie-like state for years. A full rehab and grand reopening would have created a buzz that might have generated enough momentum to keep going. At this point, it seems they've lost any steam they had, and I don't expect the mall to regain it.

I went to the Johnson City Mall Saturday for the food truck rally. My girlfriend wanted to go shopping and we bought a few things. We wouldn't have come without the food truck rally. I haven't been to the Fort Henry Mall in months - maybe since Christmas. The Fort Henry Mall, aside from the big carnival they have in the Sears parking lot, never does anything "fun" to at least get people on the property, at which point they might do some shopping. A food truck rally and things like that are not "culturally Kingsport." This kind of stuck in a rut mindset has to change for the mall to have any chance at success, and more broadly, for Kingsport to find some sort of meaningful identity in the future.
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Old 04-23-2018, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Madison, AL
440 posts, read 370,054 times
Reputation: 261
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
JC has the only remaining Sears
You seriously want to brag about having the only remaining Sears?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Page2 View Post
Population, retail and economic growth is not a zero-sum game divided among cities local 20-25 miles apart.
An excellent point IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Page2 View Post
State Data Center projects put the year that Washington County will outpace Sullivan in population at 2019 or 2020. But I think population is just one measure of success. The local government that serves its citizens well and efficiently is a bigger point.
So the US census bureau is estimating Sullivan County population at 157,158 on 7/1/2017, a 0.2% increase over the 4/1/2010 population. For the same date Washington County population at 127,806 which is a 3.9% increase over the 4/1/2010 population.

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fa...e,TN/PST045217

So if Washington County grows at 600 heads per year (rate of last 7 years) and Sullivan County grows at 0 heads per year (it's been about 40, but be pessimistic), then it takes 48.9 years for the population of Washington County to surpass Sullivan County. Call it 2066 give or take.

If the State Data Center is really expecting Washington County's population to surpass Sullivan County's population in the next two years, they all need to be fired. That would require 30,000 new residents in Washington County in two years. Facts are stubborn things.

Last edited by cooldiver; 04-23-2018 at 12:23 PM..
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Old 04-23-2018, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,180 posts, read 21,994,118 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooldiver View Post
You seriously want to brag about having the only remaining Sears?
Sears has been grossly mismanaged, but I still like it for certain things. It was great to be able to get your oil changed or tires done at the mall.
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