COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — The retail market in Aggieland is hot, just take it from those bringing new retailers to town and one ready to ink a lease.
As an Economic Development Manager for the City of College Station, Aubrey Nettles helps recruit new businesses to town and she also makes sure existing ones are holding up.
During the pandemic, her role changed.
"We actually went from spending a vast majority of our time recruiting new businesses to spend a significant amount of our time working towards making sure our business was ok," Nettles added.
With various economic assistance grants and programs, many businesses stayed afloat, but some didn't make it.
"During that time, [we] lost some really great retail businesses. That was really difficult because not only were we losing amenities for our citizens in College Station, but we were losing jobs. Those were jobs of our friends and family members. That was really difficult," Nettles said.
Shifting gears to market vacant spaces, Nettles says with A&M back in full swing this coming fall and with full capacity, the plan for sporting events, fresh eyes for business gaze upon College Station, including Wesley Lawhorn's.
Lawhorn says he will be bringing four locations to the Bryan, College Station, Temple and Waco area.
"The first location we are planning is in College Station. We are in lease negotiations right now and hope to have that wrapped up in the coming weeks," Lawhorn added.
Lawhorn signed an agreement back in March to bring a Waxing The City franchise to town, now he's just scoping out the perfect place to set up shop.
Lawhorn says these waxing studios are really the only ones who focus solely on waxing. Lawhorn will be the Owner and Operator of the College Station location and says coming to Aggieland was a no-brainer.
"College Station is close to home for me. It was an opportunity to get close to family. I love the College Station market. It's booming right now, as indicators will tell you. There are lots of opportunities. You are close to Austin, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth. The infrastructure that is here, I feel like the City, is planning for it, to ensure they can support everything that is coming," Lawhorn added.
Lawhorn, an Aggie grad himself, is happy to be back and will be bringing a new option for waxing and brow services to the community.
"A lot of times, those services are done in the backroom in a nail salon, and so rather than trying to be good at a lot of different things, we are looking to be the best and excel in one area," he added.
Lawhorn says he is excited to create something not only for himself but for the employees he will eventually hire and for them to be successful as well. He says there are nearly 120 locations in 38 states, all independently owned and operated.
"Inspired by their loyal clientele and a belief that waxing is less about hair removal and more about boosting self-esteem, the founders of Waxing the City sets out to create a space that ensures a positive experience for everyone who walks through their doors," Lawhorn shared from WTC's website.
Lawhorn isn't the only one seeing the market boom, just ask Ken Belden, a broker in town who represents landlords and tenants, filling vacant spaces.
"It's really been pretty hectic. There are a lot of calls coming in. A lot of these businesses who are coming in from out of market that want to establish their presence here. I've talked to pretty much every other broker in the market and they are basically telling me the same thing 'we've never seen it this busy. It's a wild time right now,'" Ken Belden, Associate of Brokerage Services at Stafford Barrett Commercial Brokerage said.
Belden says the Bryan College Station market has been really aggressive the last couple of months.
"What we saw after the pandemic was this sort of resurgence of activity as people get mobilized again and people have the money to keep their businesses going or start new ventures," he added.
Belden says College Station is a safe bet and a good branch-out location.
"If you are starting in Austin and you've got a couple of locations and you want to get up to Dallas or have a mid-way point to Houston, College Station is right in the middle of all of that," he said.
Nettles says sales recent sales tax numbers are phenomenal and hotel occupancy is steadily improving. Pandemic or not, College Station is a place many want to consider.
"The conversation used to be 'We do want to do College Station, we might give it a couple years,' this year, for all intents and purposes, it's like almost every time we have one of those conversations, those people are like 'Yes, we want to do Bryan College Station, what do you have for us?'" Belden added.
Nettles says starting Memorial Day weekend through August, there will be nearly 40,000 visitors coming into town for different sporting events and various conventions, which helps showcase College Station as not only a college town but a tourism one as well.
"We have a ton of both sporting events and conventions this summer that are going to keep our business and hotels busy even when students go home for summer break," she added.