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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Economy resurging, graduates still nervous”

Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

The new two-story REI store located at Tucson Mall opened May 21, 2010 and is the only REI in Tucson. The sporting goods store is currently thriving despite opening its doors in the midst of a poor economic climate.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat The new two-story REI store located at Tucson Mall opened May 21, 2010 and is the only REI in Tucson. The sporting goods store is currently thriving despite opening its doors in the midst of a poor economic climate.

While the Tucson business climate may seem sluggish, UA economist Marshall Vest said approximately 1,100 jobs were created in Tucson over the last six months.

In addition, Vest, director of economic business research at the Eller College of Management, said local retail stores have experienced a 9 percent growth rate in terms of sales over the same period.

Several recently opened Tucson retailers echoed Vest’s good omens for the

Tucson economy.

REI has seen a good deal of success since its grand opening on May 22. Sales are better than expected and there is little competition, said Eric Piper, a store manager.

Delias, a women’s clothing store in the Tucson Mall, has also seen success since opening its doors. Lillian Urias, a Delias store manager, said opening a location at the mall was a foolproof plan. The company was able to track sales and decided to open based on a strong catalog response in the area.

“”We plan on being here long term. We see no reason why not. So far the store’s doing great. We signed a lease to be here in the mall for at least five years,”” Urias said.

While businesses like REI and Delias have managed to keep their sales margin in the green, some local businesses and several UA graduates said they are not pleased with the business climate they find themselves in.

“”We have companies — retailers, restaurants, furniture stores — a whole raft of businesses that have gone out of business during the recession,”” Vest said.

He said additional degrees like a Master’s in Business Administration are valuable for students during periods of economic stagnation.

Kyle LaRose recently graduated from UA with a degree in political science. He is heading to law school in the fall.

“”A major motivating factor in going to law school immediately after graduating is that I cannot sustain myself on the pay from my current job alone,”” LaRose said. “”Further education is definitely needed, and will be helpful in insulating me from the effects of the poor economy.””

While UA graduates have the option of continuing their education, local businesses must identify weaknesses in their business models and adapt, Vest said. This can often include downsizing, he added.

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s Toys, located in the Tucson Children’s Museum, located at 200 S. Sixth Ave., is closing its current location. Manager David Correa said he intends on improving its business model by relocating and downsizing by more a third.

“”Right now we are focusing intensely on our business model, philosophy, what we can tweak and change to make our business more secure right now,”” Correa said.

Kristen Kellman, owner of The Oak Store, located at 405 E. Wetmore Rd., is closing the store but not for long. She said the store is expanding and reopening under a new name.

The business next door has left, so it is doubling its size.

“”With the slow economy, we want to be able to carry more of a variety of furniture than oak.

We’ll have mattresses, sofas and different woods,”” Kellman said.

Whether it is downsizing or reinventing themselves, struggling businesses must adapt to the aftereffects of a recession, Vest said.

“”The good news is that hiring is picking up once again. There are increasing job opportunities. The environment is improving,”” he said.

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