WinCo? Hobby Lobby? Sam’s Club? Logan Has Them, St. George Does Not
I may have majored in Journalism in college, but I can still do basic math.
The number 99,000 is much greater than the number 53,000.
The number 191,000 is much greater than the number 137,000.
The first set of numbers are the population totals from 2021 in St. George (99,000) and Logan (53,000).
The second set of numbers are the 2021 population totals for Washington County (191,000) and for Cache County (137,000).
And so imagine my surprise as I drove up Main Street in Logan last week when I came upon a Hobby Lobby. A few blocks later I passed Sam's Club. Right next door was WinCo.
I was in Logan for the 4A State Basketball Tournament (Sky View won it all, Dixie came in a close second).
But as I drove by these coveted stores, I couldn't help but wonder out loud, "Why would Logan, with barely half the population of St. George, have all three of these stores and St. George does not?"
The answer we've gotten from these retailers has been a convenient "Your population base is too small."
I here to decry, "Baloney!"
The population argument just doesn't hold water. Not only is Logan (and its surrounding counties) much smaller than St. George and its surrounding area, but folks tend to leave Cache County in the winter, where it is bone-chillingly cold.
The opposite happens in Washington County, where the population has been known to swell up to 240,000 during the "Snowbird" winters.
I can only conclude that the real reason these stores aren't ready to open up in St. George is this: Land Values are just too high down here for these stores to justify the cost.
Stores like Hobby Lobby and Sam's Club won't buy an existing building (not that there are any available), they'll build their own.
That means these corporations would have to buy a large plot of land and then take the expense to build here. You'd have to sell a lot of protein drinks and muffins to turn a profit if you build in the current St. George market.
A quick search for undeveloped commercial land in Washington County tells me that it's about $900,000 per acre. A Sam's Club needs about 14 acres of room for the store/parking lots. That means it may cost more than $12 million dollars for just the land.
Meanwhile, in Logan you can get that same commercial land for about $200,000 an acre, or about $2.8 million dollars for the 14 acres.
Now it's all starting to make sense.