Some local businesses have closed for good in spite of the promising market from military presence and the close-knit but widespread Killeen-area community from Copperas Cove to Harker Heights.
The CVS store in Copperas Cove will close its doors for good on April 1 after more than five and a half years of business.
The recent merger with the insurance company Aetna was designed to boost the company’s healthcare benefits segment, but financial reports from the CVS website show the company’s retail side has been in decline.
CVS media representatives did not respond to requests for comment on the Cove closure.
CVS has joined major retailers such as JCPenny, Sears, Macy’s, Payless, and Kmart which have closed stores nationwide. Another in the series of store scaling back on a national scale is Toys ‘R’ Us, which closed in Killeen on June 29 of last year. Sears, one of the first stores to open in the Killeen Mall in the early 1980s, is in the process of closing.
Gander Mountain, a sporting goods store that was built from the ground up in Killeen, closed just two years after it opened. The building is still used as the Halloween costume store Spirit Halloween in the fall.
Another notable business closing in the area is Richard Rawlings Garage in Harker Heights, which closed earlier this month after two years in business.
Richard Rawlings Garage claimed to offer “revved up country food” in a family friendly atmosphere when it opened in 2016, replacing the Twin Peaks restaurant that closed in 2015.
Sandwich shop Potbelly Subs opened March 20, 2017, at 3126 East North Central Expressway, but it closed less than two years later.
Meanwhile, new restaurants continue to open around town, including the Dunkin Donuts on Clear Creek in Killeen.
Killeen has also seen a rise in local grocery stores including Aldi, which opened its second local branch on Stan Schleuter in November, a new H-E-B on Fort Hood Street and Stan Schleuter in April of 2017, the Walmart that opened on Stan Schleuter four years ago in April of 2015. The neighborhood Walmarts that have popped up throughout Killeen are also thriving.
Residents have raised the question: Why do new chain restaurants, grocery stores and car washes continue to open in Killeen — especially when others they see pop up and close down in such a short time span?
The supply and demand for these sorts of businesses is what drives the market, according to John Crutchfield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce.
“The demand for what they provide is such that very few lose money because people keep buying their products,” Crutchfield said. “It is often the case that what people want and what they will spend money on are two different things.”
Crutchfield predicts until demand is met, investors will continue building fast food restaurants, car washes and other popular businesses.
Retail gap analysis or “leakage reports” help the chamber and other city officials target retail spending.
“This tells us what people are leaving this market to purchase in other markets by product and amount,” Crutchfield said. “You can never totally stop leakage, because some shoppers like to travel to shop. But it can be reduced.”
A $1.5 billion leak
According to the latest leakage analysis report on the Killeen Economic Development Corporation website, the potential sales of more than $3.4 billion and actual sales from local businesses of more than $1.9 billion leaves a gap of about $1.5 billion that could have been spent locally but was instead outsourced.
If investors focus on providing “leakage products” that are popularly bought elsewhere, it will enhance their probability of success, Crutchfield said.
The Central Texas Business Resource Center also offers support and advice for businesses looking to excel in the local market.
With the booming military community and local development in the manufacturing sector, there is ample opportunity for businesses to succeed. Crutchfield said failure is avoidable for businesses that study and capitalize on the marketing possibilities.
Many businesses that fail in Bell County suffer from a poor business plan, inadequate financing, bad location, weak marketing, an inadequate understanding of the market, lack of internet presence or expanding too rapidly, Crutchfield said.
Another trait that causes businesses to fail is a lack of commitment to the business, evidenced by poor quality products or poor service, he said.
“Successful businesses take time to understand the market because they have spent time analyzing the market to determine if there is a demand for their products in that market,” Crutchfield said. “Then, they develop and implement a business plan that will allow them to be successful before they enter that market. Obviously, not all markets will work for all retailers.”