Shopping in Rural Nebraska

Our friends over at the University of Nebraska’s Center for Applied Rural Innovation released a pretty interesting report titled “Living and Shopping in Rural Nebraska.”  In the report, CARI surveyed nearly 3,000 rural respondents about quality of life factors in rural Nebraska that included retail, shopping and living opportunities (You can download the 47-page report in its full glory here).  The responses were striking:  while the majority of rural respondents indicated high levels of satisfaction with fire protection, parks and recreation, libraries and religious organizations, a huge majority had strong *dissatisfaction* with entertainment, retail shopping, restaurants and cultural activities.

This feedback jives with the results of the business visitation program results Valley County Economic Development completed in May.  While we have quite the selection to choose from here in Ord and the surrounding area, we do have some gaps, admittedly when it comes to formal wear, shoes, culture and arts and diversity of entertainment options.

Another extremely important bit of research that was unearthed in the report was regularity in which rural shoppers made online purchases.  Over two-thirds (2/3) of rural shoppers made online purchases in the past year, up from less than one-third (1/3) in 2000!  Even more amazing?  Of those online shoppers, rural residents spent over $500 or more on those purchases.

This has us thinking:  what should economic development do to address these issues, if anything?  One of the challenges we’ve found is whether or not people would frequent a new coffee shop for example, or a new boutique clothing store, or microbrewery to name a few.  While we dig into this report, we want to hear from you.

Our question to you is: what other retail needs do we have?  How often would you shop there if we recruited it to Ord?  Thoughts?

If you are a local retail business, what are you doing to showcase your inventory online?

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