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After Thirty-One Gifts And Longaberger, What's Next For Central Ohio Retail?


The handbag and accessory company Thirty-One Gifts has announced a big move: While its headquarters will stay nearby, moving from Easton to New Albany, its distribution center will relocate to Texas, shedding 800 Central Ohio warehouse jobs in the process.

The news comes the same week as another Central Ohio direct-sales company, Longaberger, is forced to sell its assets.

But the move of one and the death of another doesn't mean an overall bleak outlook for Ohio.

"As quickly as companies are moving and leaving, there are companies that are coming," says Terry Esper, associate professor of logistics at Ohio State's Fisher College of Business.

And location is essential as more retail shifts online.

"As we see more and more companies getting products out and to consumers and shipping directly to homes, we're seeing the strategic locations of those [distribution centers] as a very vital part of sucess in this new economy," he says.

Though Thirty-One Gifts may have moved its distribution center to be closer to customers, Central Ohio isn't necessarily going to lose out in the future.

"Columbus is viewed really as a hub for logistics and distribution for a lot of companies," he says. "So while we are seeing this shift, there is a big conversation about Columbus being a hub for retail, Columbus being a hub for distribution for online retail."

Which means two pieces of bad news in one week shouldn't necessarily sound the alarm.

"While this is one indication of the shifts that we see taking place, there are lot of promising opportunities that are out there in the marketplace that I think we should focus on," he says.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.