A Chick-Fil-A In Wichita Falls? Don’t Hold Your Breath [UPDATED]
UPDATE (1/16/13): Construction is underway for Chic-fil-a in Wichita Falls!
Wichita Falls still has no Chick-Fil-A. In fact, 929 NIN has conducted several unscientific surveys over the last couple of months about what retailers are "most wanted" in Wichita Falls... The number one answer: Chick-Fil-A. So what gives?
In June of last year, the Times-Record news ran an article, stating that the restaurant chain was "anticipating building in Wichita Falls."
Well.... SOMETHING happened to change the company's mind. In a short reply to an inquiry I made about the company's plans for the Falls, Brenda Morrow (formerly Green), of the Chick-Fil-A PR department had this to say:
"Thanks for writing to inquire about Chick-fil-A coming to the Wichita (SIC) area. Chick-fil-A has expressed in interest in the Wichita (SIC) market, but as with any real estate interest, at this point, there is nothing specific that I can communicate."
Now, does that response sound like a company that can't wait to move into the market? I think not. If that is truly the case, and one has to believe it is, the next logical question is, "why not?".
For comparison sake, look at Lawton Oklahoma. According to Arbitron, Lawton, OK is market number 269 with a population of 92,300 persons and a median household income of $46, 830/yr. Wichita Falls is ranked market number 253 with population of 115,400 and a median household income of $54,857. Obviously, the Falls area is larger by more than 20,000 people with more household income. Yet, a quick drive up I-44 will show you which town is on the upswing.
First, Lawton has not one, but two Chick-Fil-A restaurants. One in Central Mall and a stand-alone on Cache Rd. And, just to rub it in our faces, they also have an Outback Steakhouse. But the differences don't end there. There is work already begun on a brand new shopping area that will totally revitalize the downtown business district. Old storefronts are being renovated at an extremely fast pace and, in some cases removed completely and rebuilt with new stores and restaurants. Additionally, new residential building is ongoing in Lawton as well. Disheartening, to say the least, for the Falls resident.
Obviously, there is a leadership problem in the Falls that really showed itself with the 2005 BRAC. How important is the Base Realignment and Closing commission to an area growth? Lobbying and petitions from affected areas begin surfacing as soon as the Commission was announced. In a nutshell, Ft. Sill was a HUGE winner, while Sheppard got realigned, basically reducing the number of families stationed there. Ft. Sill is adding roughly 4,044 jobs,now, and over the next few years, while Sheppard is losing jobs. These people have families too, so the gain in population for Lawton/Ft. Sill could top 10,000.
so let's get this straight... there are more people in Wichita Falls... they make more money.... yet, the city is not growing at the pace of the nearest comparable neighbor. More in the next installment.