Wahpeton Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce and Southern Valley Economic Development Authority conducted an online survey in the Twin Towns to gauge people’s feelings about local apparel stores.
The chamber decided to conduct the survey after a local business approached them, curious about what inventory they should be purchasing for their store, said Justin Neppl, executive director of SVEDA.
The survey found that 85 percent of the 281 respondents prefer to shop local, but 65 percent would also like to see more variety in what’s available. Survey participants noted that men’s, children’s and plus size clothing options were limited in Wahpeton and Breckenridge, Minnesota.
Neppl said for the most part, he was not surprised by the results. He expected some of the comments on variability, like the lack of “big and tall clothing.” The survey helped make that evident, with the data to back it up, Neppl said.
“Selection is always a big deal for all consumers,” Neppl said.
The survey, which was conducted over a period of three weeks in August and September, found 35 percent of respondents visited a local clothing store in the area between one and four times in 2020. Just under 10 percent of respondents reported that they had not visited a clothing store this year.
“The towns are very limited in plus size selections –– for both men and women –– which makes me do a lot more online shopping –– I would rather shop in the twin towns,” one participant wrote.
Another participant noted the lack of casual children’s clothing, and another the lack of everyday men’s wear. Sixteen people said they missed the JC Penny and Maurices because they were well-stocked, efficient and good quality.
Around 100 respondents said they were unsatisfied with the variety of apparel stores and around 125 said they could not find clothing for all occasions in the area.
“[I] liked the basics that JCPenny carried,” one respondent said. “PJs, socks, underwear, reasonably priced kids clothes.”
The majority of the participants were women, with men only taking up 13.9 percent of the 281 participants. Of the respondents, 86.5 percent have children. Most of them live in the area, just over 20 percent live out in the counties, the report stated.
Neppl was most impressed by the response the survey garnered from the community. The survey was only shared on a handful of platforms, Neppl said, so he was pleasantly surprised by the nearly 300 participants.
The people of the Twin Towns have spoken, and with a decent sample size, Neppl said local businesses should pay attention.
“I would hope that (stores) would listen to the feedback presented. I think it was valuable,” Neppl said. “The expectation is to take it and do something with it.”