Experts tag Sequim a 'destination' market

It's undeniable that

Sequim has grown and changed tremendously over the years.

Houses stand on acreage that used to be farmland and big box chains have replaced mom-and-pop-type stores like Rookards, Lady Truffles and most recently Swain's Outdoor.

Some people might be surprised, however, at just how much the once agricultural-based town has evolved into a retail-oriented city.

According to The 2010 Washington State Retail Survey - a 500-page market data and analysis published annually since 2004 - Sequim is the third-highest ranking Washington city in retail-sales growth over the past five years, increasing by 13.9 percent.

According to Linda Rotmark, executive director of the Clallam Economic Development Council, it's because of big box stores - love 'em or hate 'em - that Sequim retail sales have grown so much.

"There were a series of letters to the editor discussing the benefits, or lack thereof, having big box stores in

Sequim," Rotmark said.

"The fact that we have big box availability benefits everybody. If we didn't have them here, people would be leaving Sequim to go to Silverdale for Costco and The Home Depot."

Some privately-owned businesses cannot compete with big box stores and have closed as a result, Rotmark said, but that doesn't make them all "evil."

"The little (family-owned) stores might suffer initially when a big box store comes to town but in the end they benefit because it keeps people shopping in the area."

The 2010 Washington State Retail Survey analyzes the retail performance of each of the state's 39 counties and 290 cities, including 11 years of sales data for 30 types of stores such as department stores, clothing and shoe stores, jewelry, sporting goods, auto dealers and more.

The survey is an independent market research publication that focuses on the Washington retail market. In addition to historical sales-trend data, the survey includes a variety of statistical measurements - performance, growth persistence, relative strength, sales, sales growth, populations, etc. - that evaluate the past performance of individual markets and the potential of growth.

Elizabeth Scott, a labor market economist with the Employment Security Department, hadn't yet seen The 2010 Washington State Retail Survey but described the Sequim retail market as "having a great reputation for fantastic retail" and a "great balance between small businesses and big boxes."

According to Scott, July 2010 reports regarding retail jobs in Clallam County showed growth while other counties experienced decline.

"We saw a statewide decrease in literally hundreds of jobs in July over June, but not in Sequim," Scott said.

"Overall, the demographic factors of Sequim lean toward a healthy retail market, and Sequim has become a destination."

For more information about the retail survey, go online to www://washington or

call Eureka Group, the publisher of the survey, at

530- 647-1219.

Washington's top 10 markets' annual retail-sales growth rates over the past five years, according to the 2010 Washington State Retail Survey:

· Covington, 23.5 percent

· Marysville, 16 percent

· Sequim, 13.9 percent

· Lacey, 11.1 percent

· East Wenatchee, 10.8 percent

· Bonney Lake, 9.7 percent

· Poulsbo, 8.4 percent

· Snohomish, 7 percent

· Moses Lake, 6 percent

· SeaTac, 5.8 percent

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