Strong sales and customer demand have sent Kennewick's Curvy Chix Clothing to a new, larger location in Richland.
Store owners Verna and Jessica Perso are riding a wave of consumer demand in the Tri-Cities, where state taxable sales numbers showed strong gains in 2010, according to numbers the state Department of Revenue released this week.
Benton County businesses reported 4 percent growth in 2010, while Franklin County businesses saw sales grow almost 5 percent, according to data.
Statewide, taxable sales totals slipped by 0.1 percent.
For Benton County, that growth translates to $2.7 billion of taxable total sales in 2010, with $1.4 billion of that from retail sales. Franklin County tallied $964.6 million in taxable total sales last year, with $401.8 million from retail sales.
Some of the strongest growth was in clothing and shoe sales, which were up by 5 percent in Benton County and 11 percent in Franklin County.
Verna Perso credits the success of Curvy Chix Clothing, which opened May 1, 2010, to good customer service and finding a niche. She said the store offers new women's clothing in plus sizes, with nothing more than $20, which is difficult to find anywhere else in the Tri-Cities.
Perso said they moved to their new location at 1382 Jadwin Ave. in Richland's Uptown Shopping Center several weeks ago, allowing her to expand the clothing line by carrying more pants and adding lingerie.
Sales of RVs, motorcycles and boats grew significantly in Franklin County, increasing by 79 percent in 2010 over the previous year.
Jon Gunter, sales representative at Northwest Marine & Sport in Pasco, said the growth is a rebound from 2009, which was a tough year for boat retailers.
Sales started increasing last year, Gunter said, and that growth has continued this year.
Banks are lending money, which gives more people the ability to afford a boat, he said. And fish runs have increased, causing more people in the area to want their own boat, Gunter said.
Quiet and fuel-efficient outboard boats have done particularly well, he said.
Gunter said boat sales aren't back at 2008 levels yet, but they are headed that way.
Legacy Ford of Pasco reports growth in the past year has completely outpaced the average 6 percent growth in car sales in Franklin County and 11 percent in Benton County in 2010.
Owner Josh Dykes said the dealership's vehicle sales grew by 35 percent in 2010. Since then, the dealership has gone from selling 70 cars a month to closer to 190.
Like Gunter, Dykes said the growth has continued so far this year. In April, Legacy Ford had 49 percent growth in sales over April 2010.
Legacy Ford sells the third highest volume of Ford vehicles in the state, he said, adding that Ford became the top-selling brand of new vehicles in the Tri-Cities this year.
He said his dealership sells out of Fusions and Fiestas as fast as they arrive on the lot.
Dykes credits the growth to the Ford brand, strong customer service and good business planning.
Other types of businesses that saw double-digit growth in 2010 included specialty foods and beer and wine stores, computer and software stores, building materials, department stores, furniture stores and drug and health stores.
There were drops in sales of cameras, books, periodicals and music.
Richland businesses saw the most growth in the Tri-Cities, with a 6 percent gain in sales in the last year. Last year, sales were at $873.2 million in Richland.
The city received almost 10 percent more in sales tax revenues in 2010, said Dan Underwood, city finance manager. Sales taxes are the city's third largest funding source after property taxes and utility taxes. In 2010, sales tax revenue was $8.5 million.
For the first two months this year, Underwood said he has seen an increase in sales tax revenue compared with the same time last year. The increase is at about 17 percent, but Underwood said it's too early in the year to tell if that will become a trend.
Kennewick businesses are reporting a nearly 5 percent sales growth, with $1.5 billion in taxable sales last year.
Kennewick also saw a nearly 5 percent growth in sales tax revenue in 2010, said Dan Legard, city finance director. The city collected about $12.9 million in sales tax revenue, which is the city's top funding source for city services.
Legard said that almost brings the city back to prerecession levels. The end of 2008 was when Kennewick noticed a drop in sales tax revenue, followed by a decline of 4 percent in 2009, he said.
Kennewick officials are hoping city revenues will return to prerecession levels in 2011, Legard said. So far, the city has seen 6 percent more revenue than by this time last year, but Legard said the growth in 2010 didn't happen until toward the latter part of the year.
Legard and Underwood said they are waiting to find out how the end of stimulus funding at Hanford will be felt in the local economy.
Pasco saw the smallest 2010 growth in total taxable sales, up 2 percent, with $825.3 million in total taxable sales.
Gary Crutchfield, Pasco city manager, said the city still saw an increase of about 5 percent in sales tax revenue, collecting $83 million in sales taxes, which are the city's top source of funding.
Pasco still isn't back to 2008 levels. Crutchfield said sales tax revenue in 2010 was about 6 percent below 2008, the city's peak year. But 2010 was about the same amount the city collected in 2006.
Crutchfield said Toyota of the Tri-Cities since has moved from Pasco to Kennewick, and car sales dropped overall, which cut city revenues.