PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — News 13 recently reported about many new businesses coming to the area, so we asked viewers what kind of businesses they’d like to see plant roots in the Panhandle.
Almost 2,000 Facebook comments later, here are the top 10 responses:
Wawa is a convenience store chain headquartered in Pennsylvania. The store features food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they can also cater.
“It’s always great to hear there is excitement about Wawa in new Florida markets,” Lori Bruce, the senior manager of media relations for Wawa told News 13. “While we are always actively looking for new potential store locations, we don’t have any details on [Bay County] at this time.”
#9: The Cheesecake Factory
Chain restaurant The Cheesecake Factory, headquartered in southern California, features a variety of food and, of course, cheesecakes.
The current closest location to Bay County is in Gainesville, Fla.
IKEA, which is headquartered in The Netherlands, features ready-to-assemble furniture, showrooms and a cafeteria.
A spokesperson with IKEA US gave News 13 the following statement:
“At IKEA, we are always looking at new opportunities for expansion and growth. There is an extensive process to identify markets that can support an IKEA store. Currently, we are in a rapidly changing retail environment and we have been focused on making sure we’re accessible and convenient for our customers today and in the future. Mainly, we are looking to expand to urban city centers in order to be accessible to consumers, while also investing in our e-commerce and services to ensure customers can access IKEA no matter where they are.“
#7: Whole Foods Market
Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market features organic groceries and is headquartered in Austin, Texas.
According to the Whole Foods Market website, they have guidelines when choosing where to open locations. Some guidelines include 200,000 people or more in a 20-minute drive time, and a large number of college-educated residents in the area.
If you can’t wait for a Whole Foods Market to open in the Bay County area, the closest location is currently in Destin.
ALDI, a German-owned discount supermarket chain, is “one of the fastest-growing grocers in America.”
#5: Academy Sports + Outdoors
Chain store Academy Sports + Outdoors sells sporting goods and outdoor gear, including hunting, fishing and camping equipment. They are based out of Texas.
While there is not a location in Bay County at the moment, the closest location is in Dothan, Ala.
Sports entertainment complex Topgolf features high-tech golfing bays, along with food and drinks.
There are currently only 70 locations worldwide, according to Topgolf’s website. The closest location to Bay County is in St. Petersburg, which is not open yet.
#3: Amusement Park/Six Flags
Many requested an amusement park for the area, and more specifically, a Six Flags park. Six Flags features parks with roller coasters, water rides and other entertainment.
Six Flags has 27 “strategically located” parks across North America. The closest park to Bay County is Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, Ga.
Costco Wholesale is a big-box retail store that requires memberships. The closest location to Bay County is in Tallahassee.
A spokesperson for Costco told News 13 that it is their “company policy to not comment regarding future Costco warehouses” until they are ready to share details about a new location.
#1: Trader Joe’s
The most requested business by Bay County viewers is the grocery store chain Trader Joe’s, which features a variety of unique food. The current closest location to Bay County is in Tallahassee.
Bryan Palbaum, President and Chief Operating Officer of Trader Joe’s, spoke about where they open new locations on the company’s podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s:
“We always appreciate the passion of some of the neighborhoods that do send in their requests,
and they can be very creative at times. Always consider distribution, how far our warehouses are going
to be from the stores in which we’re opening makes sure that we can supply those stores on a regular
basis… Population is really important. We certainly have certain numbers of households that we think we
need to have that can support a successful Trader Joe’s, and when we get to those numbers and it makes sense, then we’ll open a store.”
What stores do you want to see come to Bay County?