By Wyatt Goolsby
ANDREWS - Every year the City of Andrews is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's because the people living there are spending a large amount of their money outside of town. On Thursday, Andrews Chamber of Commerce invited retailers and business owners to a special presentation, and talked about how they and Economic Development officials are trying to keep those dollars close to home.
"So I think it's just the world we are living in," Wesley Burnett, Director of Economic Development in Andrews, explained. "It's all related to numbers and how people shop, it's out there to find, we just needed someone be able to coordinate the data and give it back to us so we can do a better job of what we're doing."
It's no secret small West Texas towns like Andrews are losing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year when residents go to Midland/Odessa to shop.
"The big part for us was just having the demographics and really realizing what our trade area is and where our dollars are coming from and where they're going," Burnett said.
Officials told NewsWest 9 they don't know exactly how much money they could be keeping locally, so they hired a company out of Houston to figure out the town's biggest weaknesses.
"We're seeing a leakage in almost every category, which is kind of normal for a community this size being as close as it is to a large community," Aaron Farmer, with the Retail Coach, LLC, explained. "One of the ones that really sticks out to me is the casual sit-down restaurants, those seem to be a significant part of that leakage."
Corporal Ray's Coffee is one of those small businesses focused on Andrews. Owner Jerry Bevel told NewsWest 9 since it first opened several years ago, he's seen a slow down in business.
"Small businesses like me cannot afford to have lots of dollars invested in a wide range of inventory, so it's obvious we are not going to have what the people need every time," Bevel said.
Bevel said that's why everyday they work to make the best product out of what they have. He and other business owners told NewsWest 9 they are optimistic about the new research, but said no one can rule out population size as the key factor.
"We're not going to draw a Chili's, we don't have 30,000 people living here," Bevel said. "Midland/Odessa is not going to draw a Pappeduex's. They don't have 300,000. So, some businesses are based off population and if you don't have the population there's nothing you can do."
From here, Retail Coach will research Andrews County for several more months, then meet and share their research with business owners. They said they expect to be working with Andrews officials for the next year to 18 months.