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Tough task for Ripon to lure retailers
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The days of big box retailers may have seen its better days.

According to City of Ripon Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart, e-commerce might be the next trend in shopping. He and Councilman Jake Parks, in an attempt to attract retailers to Ripon, attended the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Monterey Idea Exchange last week.

“We were there as participants and not (City of Ripon) representatives,” said Parks at Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting.

What is e-commerce?

Short for ‘electronic commerce,’ this type of retail business model enables a firm to conduct day-to-day operations via electronic network, typically, the Internet.

For Parks and Zuidervaart, the Monterey Idea Exchange was a two-day educational, informative and networking-type of event. Representatives from Oakdale, Tracy, Gilroy, and Merced were also on hand to learn of the current industry trends.

“The future of shopping centers will either be (big box) Wal-Mart or the specialized stores,” said Parks.

Zuidervaart indicated that at least 50 businesses, mostly food related, were there, looking to locate in Northern California. “Unfortunately, they were looking at the Bay Area,” he said.

At the ICSC event, Zuidervaart was told that businesses favored Ripon’s demographics and the “nice town” feel.

On the downside, he heard that the small population and the location – wedged between Manteca and Modesto – played out against Ripon. “We were told to be patient and to look at the type of businesses not offered in Manteca or Modesto,” Zuidervaart said.

The Jack Tone Road interchange and the Mistlin Sports Park could be ideal places to bring in new businesses considering the large volume of traffic, according to Parks.

“We also learned that transit centers have become hubs for bringing in businesses,” he added. “A lot of people filter through them each day.”

Back in December, Council heard from the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission about possibly expanding the Altamont Corridor Express train and rail service to Ripon.

The prospect of that happening could be promising. “An ACE train station would be a boom to our downtown,” Parks said.

Another shopping center trend is open space with a park-like feel.

“We have to re-think shopping centers,” Zuidervaart said. “These could be (open space) places where people might enjoy and hang out.”

Parks supports the idea of working with prospective businesses in an effort to “get them to think differently of Ripon.” In order to do that, he suggested creating marketing brochures while promoting the City of Ripon.

“We have our work cut out,” Parks said.


To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, email