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How The Pros Are Stepping Up Their Retail Game

The ever-evolving retail market demands an innovative attitude to survive. Between e-commerce, experiential retail, smaller storefronts and impossible construction loans, there's no room for the faint of heart in this market, and know one knows that better than the experts at Bisnow's retail forum yesterday.  


VCC Construction SVP Derek Alley, Charter Holdings CEO Ray Washburne, The Weitzman Group executive chairman Herb Weitzman, MG Herring CEO Gar Herring, Lincoln Property EVP Robert Dozier, Centennial Real Estate CEO Steven Levin, and our moderator Holmes Firm's Ron Holmes shared six ways to succeed in retail.

Pop-Up Shops

We already know that Highland Park Village nails experiential retail, but its success runs deeper than that. Ray, the man behind the Village, shared insight into his successful pop-up shops at the retail center. Ray signs highly buzzed-about tenants, such as celebrity-run Goop and Draper James, on a six-month or yearlong lease, and lets them try their hand. If they’re successful, they might sign a longer lease to stick around. If not, they’re not obligated to a lease they can’t afford, and Ray can get another tenant in there.


"Experience" isn’t only action

Experiential retail is more than throwing a bowling alley in an enclosed mall. Experience can come from an attentive staff or the aesthetically pleasing look of your store, Steven (above with CallisonRTKL's Dallas Branch) says. Apple is a great example. You can buy an iPhone from two dozen places in any mall, yet the Apple store is always overflowing with customers. Why? Their helpful staff. Plus, you know, you can play with all the gadgets. 


Solid local and regional retailers

While national retailers contract, local and regional concepts remain solid, Herb (pictured with SPS's John Hart and SPS's Nikki Brown) told the crowd. Credit the rise of the "shop local" movement or more personal nature of spending money in your own backyard, but when half of the Metroplex’s regional malls have closed in the last couple of decades, you better be selling whatever your community is buying.

MYCON Construction's Dana Walters, CallisonRTKL's David Cassidy, MG Herring CEO Gar Herring and Greysteel's Anton Mattli

Replace the worn-out

Small regional malls will continue to be replaced by or re-created into new village-style centers, Gar (above with MYCON Construction's Dana Walters, CallisonRTKL's David Cassidy, Greysteel's Anton Mattli) says. And while there have always been both compelling brands in the market and brands going bankrupt, there’s now a void in the market for compelling offerings (especially fashion) to backfill the bankruptcies. That's leaving a huge opportunity for successful retailers.


Leverage E-commerce

Lines between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce will continue to blur, Robert (above with Condon Thornton Sladek's Bill Sladek and Lincoln Property's Matthew Gallo) shared to fervent nods by fellow panelists and the audience. Unlike live and work real estate, play (aka retail) is unstable by nature. Brands leveraging click and pick, integrated return and exchange policies and smaller storefronts will bring home the bacon while others will be left in famine.


Build relationships

When architects, contractors, construction crews and owners all work separately behind closed doors, you’re asking for trouble, Derek (above with David and VCC's Ryan McClendon) says. By keeping in close communication with your entire team, owners will better understand where costs originate and how to absorb unexpected expenses in a different area of the project when you (inevitably) need more money to get the lights on.