Four Big Box Retailers Headed to the Beach - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Four Big Box Retailers Headed to the Beach

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The empty sign at the old Rooms-to- Go location says it all.

Four major big box retailers in Panama City are headed to the beach, the furniture store is already a distant memory and Pier One imports is advertising their moving sale. But, Michael's and Kirkland's Home will also be on the out and out.  

"I'm ticked off," said Panama City resident Leslie Johnson. "It's ridiculous. Everything is moving to Pier Park and you have a whole town here in Panama City that if you want anything you have to drive to the beach when we want to spend our money right here."

Panama City's planning department regrettably confirmed the closures Monday.

"Well first of all we know its a loss of sales tax," said Planning Director Mike Lane. 

Lane says the city never stops looking for new business in, but now they must stop the bleeding -- and May is the month to start.
May is called recon month among retailers. Lane and others from the city's Planning Department will travel to Las Vegas to the Retailers National Convention to try to persuade new stores to fill the vacancies left behind.  

"When you look at the population on the east side of Hathaway Bridge you're looking at 130,000 people roughly," said Lane. "So, it is sustainable to go after the bigger guys."

Population, traffic studies, and median household income all go into the toolbox lane uses. That, along with the city's location and proximity to the water, he hopes will give Panama City the edge back.  

"We are working and we are trying to get things going," said Lane. "But, it takes time and we are hopefully going to be showing some signs of success here shortly."

As for customers, some will be looking for other places to shop as some are unwilling to make the drive to the beach to do it.  

"Why put it out there for tourists?" said Johnson. "Keep it for the locals! I mean open up another branch out there, but keep this one."

The city is expecting a new Denny's by the end of this year. Developers plan to renovate the old B & S Liquor Store just north of Target on Highway 77.