Friday, May 10, 2019

The Retail Brokers Network

What is the Retail Brokers Network (RBN) and why did Equity Retail Brokers join?

The RBN is a national networking group founded in 1992 whose members are like us - successful independent brokerage firms that specialize in retail real estate. Upon joining in 2001, we wanted the ability to refer business nationally, while taking advantage of the shared booths at regional and national ICSC events. However, the greatest benefit has been the personal friendships we have formed and the positive affect they have had - and continue to have - on us as individuals and the company as a whole.

What value does Equity Retail Brokers get from membership in the RBN? 

Having brokers across the country that we "Know, Like and Trust" (that's the RBN motto!) gives us the ability to help our clients with their real estate needs locally and nationally. We get valuable market knowledge and expertise through relationships, regional and national RBN meetings, and monthly RBN calls on a variety of relevant real estate topics. The referrals we get from (and give to) RBN firms is a great value as well, of course.

What value do our clients get from our membership in the RBN? 

We use the information we gain from our involvement in the network to help our clients get deals done locally and nationally. Through access to people and information, the RBN provides us with expertise we otherwise wouldn't have, and allows us to make referrals to RBN firms in other markets, when needed. The end result is more problems solved and deals for our clients.

What do you like best about the RBN? 

I am in regular contact with like-minded real estate professionals around the country who I know, like and trust. We talk about real estate, our families and everything in between. I don't think I can count the quality friendships I enjoy as a result of the RBN. Oh, and we often make money together. How great is that?

Click here to learn more about the RBN, or stop by booth C-111 Union Street at ICSC RECon!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Best Retail Sales Since 2017

The Best Retail Sales Since 2017 Brighten US Growth Outlook

With first-quarter gross domestic product figures due April 26, the surprisingly strong retail report spurred economists to further increase projections.   
By Reade Pickert | April 19, 2019

Photo by Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) Retail sales in the U.S. jumped by the most since September 2017 and first-time filings for unemployment benefits dropped to a fresh 49-year low, as a strong labor market gives American consumers the wherewithal to keep the economy chugging along.

The value of overall sales in March rose 1.6 percent, boosted by gains in motor vehicles and gasoline stations, after an unrevised 0.2 percent decrease the prior month, according to Commerce Department figures released Thursday. That exceeded all forecasts in Bloomberg’s survey calling for a 1 percent gain.

A Labor Department report released at the same time showed initial jobless claims fell last week to 192,000, the lowest since September 1969. Economists had projected an increase.

“The labor market is alive and well,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC. Income gains support consumer spending and “as long as the labor market is doing well there is good reason to expect consumer spending should do fine.”

With first-quarter gross domestic product figures due April 26, the surprisingly strong retail report spurred economists to further increase projections. Analysts raised economic growth forecasts for the period Wednesday after a report showing the trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in February. The economy had showed signs of slowing heading into 2019, before the U.S. central bank put rate hikes on indefinite hold and a government shutdown clouded the outlook.

(To read the rest of the article, go to  Link to Full Article )

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Outlandish Story Of Ollie’s

A $5 Billion Retail Empire That Sells Nothing Online (But Is Beating Amazon)

Abram Brown, Forbes Magazine                                                                                                            Photo by Harry Fellows
April 1, 2019

Ollie’s is very possibly the only company in America whose brick-and-mortar stores are not just surviving but thriving. It focuses exclusively on traditional retailing, selling not a thing online. Read that again: nothing sold online.

Nonetheless, Ollie’s sales have doubled in four years. It moves more than $1 billion a year of low-priced goods from its large (30,000 square feet or so), no-frills stores like the one in Sterling. Profits are at a high, nearly $130 million.

Abram Brown's article in this month's Forbes Magazine retails the success story that is Ollie's, in an era when retailers are retrenching and retooling their market strategies. Retail companies announced 3,400 store closures last year, with plans to shutter a record 155 million square feet of shops. Those numbers will skyrocket in 2019: Retailers announced 4,300 store closures in just the first nine weeks of the year.

As Abram's points out, Ollie’s is the exception to the rule. Not only is it opening new locations, shares in Ollie’s have quintupled since its IPO in 2015. And every Ollie’s store has been profitable within a year of opening.

To read more about how Ollie's is thriving in today's competitive marketplace, click here to read the full article...

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Outdoor Communal Retail Spaces Are Getting Smaller

Communal and outdoor living spaces at retail centers are transitioning from big and flashy to a series of scaled-down living rooms., By Kelsi Maree Borland | February 26, 2019 at 04:00 AM

Outdoor communal spaces at retail centers are getting smaller. Open gathering spaces have become a standard at retail centers, but they started as large, flashy spaces with programming. Now, retail owners are opting to create a series of smaller living rooms with amenities like WIFI. Most importantly, these living room-style spaces are well designed and could be a key component to attracting locals, increasing foot traffic and competing with online outlets.

“Everything we hear is about brick and mortar competing with online sales. With this in mind, a key component, a key differentiator from an online commodity driven retail experience, is simply treating the guest experience as the anchor,” Greg Lyon owner, principal and design director at Nadel Architects, tells “In other words, the environment that a development provides for its guests and shoppers is the anchor. People will always gravitate towards a well amenitized ‘outdoor living room’ where they can hang out and socialize, and that is what will always set brick and mortar apart from the online experience.”

The Year of the Fry

French Fries Get A Makeover As Restaurant Competition Heats Up, Alicia Kelso

Is it too early to declare this the Year of the Fry?

Think about it. McDonald’s just launched limited-time cheesy bacon fries, no doubt targeting Wendy’s Baconator Fries (which, to be fair, have been around for nearly four years). Wendy’s responded to the launch by putting its version in the promotional spotlight – free Baconator Fries to anyone who ordered through the brand’s mobile app – inciting a bacon fry battle of sorts to start the New Year.

French fries have long been a quick-service staple, as well as the subject of intense debate over which brand does them best. However, a case can be made that recent launches have been different. Sexier.

Consider Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries, for example. First introduced in January 2018, the Nacho Fries quickly became the brand’s most successful product launch ever – more than 53 million orders were sold in the product’s first three months alone. The fries made up more than 30% of all Taco Bell orders, yielding both check and transaction increases.

So successful was this product launch, Taco Bell has already brought it back twice as a limited-time offer. Nacho Fries were inarguably a major factor in the chain’s strong 2018 performance.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Retail Going to the Dogs?

I have the pleasure of working with two Mars affiliated companies, Blue Pearl Animal Hospital and Banfied Pet Hospital. This article mentions yet another affiliated company, Camp Bow Wow and I thought it was of real interest. These businesses are helping to change the face of retail real estate.

Two Pet Daycare Franchises Battle for Market Dominance - Who Will be Top Dog?


Finding a location can sometimes be...ruff.                                      Photo credit: Dogtopia

Competition in the pet daycare and boarding business is turning into a real dog fight as the leading franchises race to drive expansion.

Dogtopia, based in Phoenix, announced plans to open 50 locations this year to build on the more than 90 it has in the U.S. and Canada. That’s double the number that opened last year. The company said it sold 100 spots last year and more than 30 units so far this month. In all, Dogtopia has more than 200 locations in development and has aggressive plans to grow to more than 400 stores.

“There really aren’t areas we aren’t looking, but a few current hot spots are Seattle, Connecticut, Atlanta, and our backyard, Phoenix,” said Jesse Stiles, Dogtopia’s vice president of real estate. “I have active franchisees looking in 30 plus states.”

Meanwhile, its biggest competitor and market leader, Camp Bow Wow based in Westminster, Colorado, has its own expansion plans for the year. It added 20 locations last year to finish with 165. “The pipeline is enough to achieve 20 this year,” said Jay, Mihulka, Camp Bow Wow’s vice president of real estate.

Each has firepower behind them. Dogtopia, founded in 2002, initially partnered with Phoenix investment firm Thomas Franchising Solutions in 2012 to fuel expansion. But Peter Thomas, who started the firm and once owned all of the Century 21 Real Estate franchises in Canada, later bought all of Dogtopia to put the franchise on a faster growth track.

Camp Bow Wow opened its first store in 2000 and was acquired in 2014 by VCA Inc., a company that has 750 animal hospitals around the U.S. and Canada. Mars Inc., home of M&Ms and Snickers as well as major pet food brands, bought VCA three years later.

Who has the competitive edge? Based on Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 for 2019, Camp  Bow Wow has slight lead, ranked No. 193 to Dogtopia’s No. 204. The ranking considers brand strength, costs, size, growth and support for franchisees and franchisor financials. But in 2017, Franchise Times chose Dogtopia for its Zor Awards, recognizing top franchises to own, over finalists that included Camp Bow Wow.

Both franchises offer similar services -- grooming, daycare, boarding and indoor and outdoor exercise. Both allow dog owners to view their furry children via webcams. But they differ on d├ęcor. Camp Bow Wow has more of a rustic look in its stores with lots of wood. Dogtopia leans toward contemporary and bright colors. Its locations, which average 4,000-6,000 square feet, tend be smaller than Camp Bow Wow. At a result, total investment to open a Dogtopia is lower, $606,545-$1,321,245 compared to Camp Bow Wow’s stated estimate of $783,500-$1,485,000.

On the real estate side, though, the playing field is basically level. Local zoning requirements have tended to preclude these franchises from locating in shopping centers or urban areas. They end up at the city edges, often in light industrial areas amid small manufacturing spaces or warehouse users.

That’s changing some. “With the changing retail landscape and the demand lessening for soft goods tenants, service-related businesses that take up larger spaces are more attractive to landlords than they’ve ever been,” he said. “We’ve shown that with our aesthetics, smell and sound attenuation, and clean branding, that we can not only compliment a high-end tenant mix, but even improve a second-generation retail center and be a feature tenant.”

Both concepts typically need “special-use” or “conditional-use” permits through local zoning organizations in order to open. Stiles said that’s “mainly because most zoning codes are slightly antiquated and give a blanket classification of any business like ours as a kennel.”

To help franchisees with their pitch to local governments, Dogtopia shows off a location in a shopping center anchored by a Sprouts Farmers Market in Oro Valley, Arizona, a suburb north of Tucson. Camp Bow Wow has opened in retail centers in Las Vegas and Plano, Texas. “Retail works for us if we can get into them,” Mihulka said. “It’s an education and sales process” generally to show landlords the steps taken to sound proof the space and keep impact to neighbors to a minimum.

Mihulka said one of the challenges has been finding available space anywhere because vacancy in buildings has dropped so much. “Inventory is extremely low,” he said. Some Camp Bow Wow franchisees have changed course by buying a parcel to build a freestanding location, which adds to construction costs and lengthens the time it takes to open a location. But for the franchisee, owning the real estate provides a long-term real estate investment along with the business.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Winners in Retail, 2018

Walmart isn't the only retailer already winning...

By Lauren Thomas, CNBC

In any competition, there are winners and losers. And among retailers competing for customers, the winners of 2018 beat their rivals by providing faster delivery, better online and mobile shopping options, and the trendiest products.

Those who failed or were slow to adapt? Bon-Ton, Sears, Mattress Firm and David's Bridal were among the slew of retailers that filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Toys R Us also closed all of its stores after filing for bankruptcy near the end of 2017.

But that doesn't mean consumers weren't whipping out their wallets and filling their shopping carts ahead of the new year. Many headed in throngs to off-price retailers like T.J. Maxx and big-box chains like Walmart. Here's a better look at some of the winners in retail to round out 2018.

To read the article in full, click here...