Lack of Retail Growth Affecting Williston | VideoEvan Kruegel | 6/19/2012
The majority of the people moving to Williston are coming for oil-related jobs. They`re expecting high wages and many aren`t bringing family members who also need jobs.
"The large scale retail stores, which people really want and desperately need, are still nervous. They look at Williston and go, `I know if we could be there we`d make lots of money.` But they`re just afraid of, `Will we be able to find the workers we need?’” said Williston Mayor Ward Koeser.
There`s plenty of room around the outskirts of town for retail growth, but companies may need to alter their business plan to succeed there.
"Some of this retail, they may need to charge a little more for their product. But I think people would still be willing to pay that as opposed to driving to Minot or someplace else. It’s going to have to take a different type of business model. The retailer is going to have to look at Williston and say how can we make this work," said Koeser.
One of the only new restaurants in town is the Pita Palace. Owner Kyle Burkle admits he was initially nervous about retaining employees, but he`s adjusted his business to pay higher wages.
"We`re probably a dollar higher on the same things that places in a slower economy are to pay for the high cost of wages, high costs of rent and everything else."
While they may be cautious, companies across the country are keeping an eye on Williston.
"Whether they be restaurants, retail or whatever, they all seem to be looking here because they see what`s going on. And for years we couldn`t even get them to look here. Now they`re looking here and we`ve just got to convince them to bite the bullet and come," said Koeser.
City officials believe retail stores can be successful here, but they may have to increase prices and wages to stay competitive with oil field salaries.