Florence retail recruiter to bring new businesses to historic district

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Florence Downtown Development Corporation has hired someone who they say will bring businesses to the historic district.

The downtown retail recruiter position was one of the top three priorities voted on by business owners in Downtown Florence. The vote was made during the planning retreat, and in addition to the recruiter, business owners asked for more housing and increased pedestrian safety.

“It’s the best room in town. I have a feeling,” says Patrick Carney, who’s visiting Downtown Florence for the first time from San Antonio, TX.

“I’ve been walking around town this morning and it’s exciting, fun and a beautiful day. Residents of Florence should be very proud of the renaissance of this town,” suggests Carney.

Carney said he noticed all of the construction and plans to visit Downtown Florence again in the fall.

“I’d love to see a big sports bar. It would be fun to support Carolina sports,” Carney says.

The Texas resident says he’d also like to see a men’s clothing store, which is where Bob Sager comes in. Sager was hired by the Florence Downtown Development Corporation as the retail recruitment consultant to bring more businesses to the area.

“This is going to become a shopping area,” says Sager. “We are not going to compete necessarily with Magnolia Mall or Florence Mall but this will be at least the second or third popular area to shop because there are going to be a lot of different things here.”

Sager has more than 40 years of experience with retail. So far he’s made a list and met with every business owner in the area.

“I really took a look at what was here already and came up with an idea that Ray Reich and some of the local merchants here on what they felt was really missing,” explains Sager.

Each week Sager visits surrounding areas, as far away as Columbia or Myrtle Beach, to meet with successful businesses with the goal of bringing them to Downtown Florence.

“The mission is to look at those places that have already done this and the look at the businesses that are already successful there,” says Sager. “It’s not to steal the business, because if they are successful they are not going to leave anyway. The idea is to see if those people would like to get involved with us.”

The development corporation hopes to bring more clothing, entertainment and restaurants to the area with incentive grants or low-interest loans through the City of Florence.

“When you look at downtown, we do have some ladies wear down here. We don’t have any men’s wear or children’s wear. Those are at the top of our list, but we are certainly not ignoring anyone in terms of the type of business but we have to start somewhere,” explains Sager.

Sager is currently on a five-month contract with the Florence Downtown Development Corporation.

He plans to host a ‘downtown possibilities tour’ with realtors from across the state April 5 to view all of the available properties.