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Guess why retailer Chose Manteca: Its due to city maximizing lure
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One store doth not a recovery make.

Having said that, the fact Guess is opening next month in Manteca is a good sign.

Guess has weathered the economic storm fairly well.

The latest financials show that second quarter revenue for Guess was up 17% to $677 million to the same period the previous year. North American retail sales were up 8% at 490 stores and department stores such as Macy’s and Dillard’s that carry the trendy Guess clothing and accessory lines.

That is a significantly better performance than many other clothing retailers.

Guess understands their market and demographics.

From that aspect, Manteca makes sense for the company.

Yes, there is 14 percent unemployment. Yes, there are tons of foreclosures. Yes, the economy is rough.

There are things beyond those negatives that play heavily into Manteca’s favor. It is at the bulls-eye of two key markets. First, is almost a million consumers in roughly a 30-mile radius with Manteca at the center of the Modesto-Stockton-Tracy triangle. A growing trend since the start of the recession was for stores that do expand to pick sites central to targeted markets or to close existing stores and move to such a location. That is what Vans did last year when they moved from Tracy to Manteca.

The second is the outlet market that Manteca can tap into. You can include the Northern San Joaquin Valley in that but in reality it is anchored by two unique markets. The first is the transient Bay Area market that travels throughout the year for mini-vacations in the Sierra and Yosemite whether it is skiing, hiking, or water sports and pass through Manteca. The second is Bass Pro Shops’ fabled 100-mile drawing power that lures over 2 million customers a year to their Manteca store.

Manteca has the location. But the real magnet is Bass Pro Shops. Outlet stores and Bass Pro Shops appear to be a logical marriage. It hasn’t happened anywhere else but that is why Craig Realty jumped at the opportunity to put together one in Manteca at Orchard Valley even as signs of the recession started surfacing.

They aren’t abandoning the concept obviously. They are tight-lipped about other retailers they’ve talked with. Most firms have been in a wait-and-see mode given the days of fast and loose expansion are well over. Guess joining Vans with the Bass Pro Shops anchor will help momentum pick up.

Shopping is a form of recreation for many. Combine it with other draws such as Bass Pro, Big League Dreams, and possibly even a Great Wolf Resort with an indoor water park plus conference center would create synergy that no other outlet stores complex in Northern California can touch.

Manteca’s demographics are still decent with the average household income surpassing $60,000. That, however, isn’t why Manteca landed a Guess. It has everything to do with location and how Manteca has actively turned it into an economic ace in the hole.

Location alone doesn’t draw investment especially in tight times.

Manteca’s effort to maximize its location also has expanded to distribution centers and business parks. It takes a lot of things to make it work including mundane stuff like securing and developing adequate sewer and water and pursuing critical road projects.

And as far as that goes, Manteca’s unparalleled development potential along a key freeway corridor with three interchanges a mile apart and a fourth one a mile to the west of Airport Way at McKinley Road in the works simply adds to the appeal.

Smart money doesn’t panic. It looks for solid opportunities even in economic downturns.

Guess’ decision to open a store in Orchard Valley says a lot about Manteca’s economic future.