Retail Consultant Margaret McCauley is on her way to Columbus to give insight on how Downtown can try on a larger size when it comes to retail.

One good thing about a lack of retail in Downtown Columbus is the blank slate it presents for those who want to get a shopping boom going. Margaret "Midge" McCauley, a consultant who revs up retail for cities across the country, prefers starting with minimal activity over having to right too many wrongs.

Sometime before the Nov. 19 annual meeting of the Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts, McCauley and Kelly Kost, retail strategist with her bicoastal firm, Downtown Works, will give Columbus' Downtown a critical look. Then McCauley will share their impressions and recommendations with about 250 property owners and city officials attending the afternoon SIDs meeting at the Athenaeum.

"I don't know of anyone else nationally or locally who has been able to work with downtown property owners to forge a consensus and a strategy for getting retail started, and she has been generally successful in the markets where she's been hired to consult," says Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of the SIDs.

The SIDs are bringing in McCauley to help spur a conversation begun two years ago as part of efforts to actively market Downtown. "We've documented demand for retail. What we discovered is what's missing is useable retail space," Ricksecker says.

Vibrant downtowns have a combination of independent and national retail, McCauley says, but she notes, "Chain stores are not pioneers. They follow successful local retail." Calling Columbus "a great breeding ground for retailers," McCauley said the trick is to identify and court good local retailers. "The Limited was a local store one time," she adds.