In the early 1990s, Fountain Valley saw a rapid increase in retail sales, according to a survey of California cities, making it one of the best-performing markets in the state and the fastest-growing in Orange County.
Figures from 1989 through 1994 compiled by the California Retail Survey showed that Fountain Valley's retail sales increased by 64% during those years, the fifth-biggest increase in the state.
City officials attribute the surge to an aggressive campaign to draw high-volume discount retailers.
Fountain Valley has lured the Price Club, Sam's Club, Fry's Electronics, Sports Authority, Sportmart and CompUSA in recent years, as well as smaller retailers that also contribute substantially to sales totals, City Manager Ray Kromer said.
"Every retail business that has come to the city has contributed to the overall success of that five-year growth," Kromer said.
In 1989, retail sales totaled $334 million. By 1994, the total reached $548 million. The city receives about a penny in revenue for each taxable sales dollar.
What that means, Mayor George B. Scott said, is that the city can maintain a balanced general-fund budget and set a high standard for public services while keeping local taxes and fees low.
Retail sales "give us the revenue to provide the city services needed for our residents. Fountain Valley cannot live on property taxes alone," Scott said.
In the early 1970s, the mayor said, the city tried to attract department stores and other large retailers, but because of its proximity to major malls, such as South Coast Plaza and Huntington Beach Mall, department stores stayed away.
"We had to look for another niche," Scott said.
Kromer said city leaders made the decision to go after big discount retailers, which draw shoppers from a wide area.
"We've taken the philosophy that we're partners with business," Kromer said. "If they're successful, the city is successful."