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VOL. 121 | NO. 199 | Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Business Filings Down in Q3

Most activity originates in suburbs

By Rosalind Guy

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OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Lisa Duncan (foreground) and her husband, Tim (left rear), greet guests who attended the grand opening of their business, the PR Store, late last week. -- Photo By Rosalind Guy

Former University of Memphis basketball player Tim Duncan held a grand opening ceremony Thursday for his new business, the PR Store, a marketing superstore. The store officially opened a few months ago at 6139 Poplar Ave.

Duncan, his wife, Lisa, and their partner, Veronica Walton, are co-owners of the store, which will offer marketing products and services including brochures, print ads, newsletters and press releases.

At the event, Duncan and his partners thanked all their supporters, which included Pat Guy from the Memphis Regional Chamber and Tyler Moore, a small-business specialist at Southwest Tennessee Community College's Renaissance Center.

"I recently read in an issue of Inc. Magazine that Memphis ranked as one of the top 10 metropolitan areas for small business," Duncan told his guests. "We'd like to help take Memphis to No. 1."

In search of greatness

Though the store is in the 38119 ZIP code, it's one of the areas of the city that saw the greatest decrease in business license filings. Even so, Duncan said business is going extremely well for him.

Of the 1,834 business licenses that were filed in the third quarter, 43 licenses were filed in the 38119 ZIP code, compared to 60 filed during the same period last year, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com. That number represents a more than 28 percent drop for that area.

The ZIP code that saw the greatest percentage increase for business license filings was 38002 in the Lakeland and Arlington areas.

However, the 38125 ZIP code in the Hacks Cross Road area saw a rise in filings as well.

That increase doesn't surprise Robert Staub, founder and executive director of the Small Business Chamber of the Mid-South.

He characterizes areas such as Hacks Cross Road, which runs through Collierville, and the University of Memphis area, which includes the 38111 ZIP code, as hot areas with lots of development taking place.

And where new developments go, the businesses will follow, he said.

While the filings have increased over the second quarter, the total number of filings from the third quarter is down about 10 percent from the 2,034 filings in third quarter 2005.

A larger picture

Duncan attributes the success he's been experiencing to location as well as advertising.

"We recently started advertising on cable," he said. "And we've done some direct mailers."

But above all is his location, he said.

"Location is king in real estate," Duncan said. "The location we have here on Poplar and Ridgeway, I think we would have been successful anyway, but I don't think it would have happened as quickly."

"Sixty percent of the people who stop in the store say they were just driving by and just stopped in to see what we were," said Duncan.

Other areas of the city that experienced a high number of filings in the third quarter were in the 38135 ZIP code Bartlett, where 36 business licenses were filed compared to 30 during the same period the year before. Another area on the rise was the 38117 ZIP code, which is in the Poplar Avenue and Perkins Street area. Fifty-seven licenses were filed there compared to 48 the year before.

Business licenses are divided into classes that must be renewed at certain times of the year.
Class 1: Sale of perishable food items or building materials, expires Dec. 31
Class 2: Restaurants,
expires March 31
Class 3: General services (lawn care, car washes, etc.), expires June 30
Class 4: Construction work, expires Sept. 30
Source: Lonnie Johnson, lead tax collector, Shelby County Clerk's Office

In the 'burbs

About 75 percent of the total filings - or 1,327 business licenses - were made in the Memphis area. Cordova saw a total of 152 filings, and there were 73 in Bartlett.

As has continued to be the case since 2004, Memphis and Cordova received the highest number of filings.

Though not by much, the numbers could be slightly off with the appearance of filers from places such as Atlanta. Three business licenses were filed for Atlanta during the third quarter, one from Cameron, Texas, and one from Des Moines, Iowa.

It's not really possible to determine where those filers actually opened their businesses.

To get a business license, a filer goes to the Shelby County Clerk's Office, fills out paperwork and pays a fee to get the license. The fee is $42 for businesses within the city limits and $22 for all others.

Month-to-month filings have remained about the same with 734 filed in July, 582 filed in August and 518 filed in September. That's compared to the previous year's 772 filings in July, 672 in August and 590 in September.

Bigger head count

Staub said the increase in the number of businesses coincides with the increase in guests who have been appearing at Small Business Chamber functions.

At the organization's monthly Chamber-In-Action meeting, which typically draws around seven to 10 guests, attendance tripled last month. Now, he said, he's just waiting to see if the trend will continue in coming months.

The Chamber-In-Action meetings are more than just an opportunity to show up and shake hands, he said.

Of the people who attend the monthly meetings, 95 percent are business owners, he said.

"They're wearing all the hats and they only have a limited amount of time to go out and network and get the educational aspect of it, so we give as much as we can in as short a period of time," he said.

Another factor affecting business filings, Staub noted, is that people are moving away from the mentality that they have to work 20, 30 or 40 years for the same employer until they retire.

"They're getting burnt on a regular basis, so they go out and start their own businesses," he said.

Marketing to marketers

With his newest venture, Duncan finds himself in a unique position. He's a small-business owner whose job it is to shoulder the burden of others.

"We want to be the marketing department for small businesses and ... whatever their measure for success, that's what we want to help them attain."

As the son and grandson of small-business owners, he said he knows firsthand how difficult it is for small-business owners to get everything done.

"They're so busy trying to run their business that they really don't have the opportunity and sometimes the expertise to creatively market their business," he said.

PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783