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July/August 2022

Top 10 Retail Center Experiences Christmas Tech Prep New Concepts


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We Self-Perform!



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from the editor’s desk



On the Level: A real estate column


tech viewpoint: a retail tech column



Hot button social issues are top of mind, and retailers need a process for navigating them or risk damaging brand reputation.


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ShopTalk: Spanish retailer Mango ramps up North American expansion.

Vendor Q&A: NEST’s Rob Almond discusses the state of facilities management and how taking an integrated approach to FM can benefit retailers.

Petco, Lids among the retailers launching new brick-andmortar concepts.



TOP WOMEN IN RETAIL AWARDS Chain Store Age profiles female executives making their mark in five categories that include store development/ facilities, real estate, supply chain, technology and Women of the Year.


CSA (USPS 054-410; ISSN 0193-1199), is published bimonthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631, on a controlled basis to qualified retailer titles and architects. Real estate and shopping center owners and developers $75 per year. All other non-qualified in the United States: $80 one year; $155 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $105 one year; $185 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $115 one year; $215 two year; $16 single issue copy. Digital edition subscription: $55 one year digital; $105 two year digital. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to CSA, Circulation Fulfillment Director, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription changes may also be emailed to contact@chainstoreage.com, or call 1-877-687-7321. Vol. 97, No. 2, March/April 2021. Copyright ©2021 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.


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Contents VOL. 97 JULY/AUGUST NO. 4




Vendor Q&A: Carl Hildebrandt, of Epicor, talks about the advantages of cloud-based POS solutions.



Top 10 Retail Center Experiences Chain Store Age’s annual compendium of the most creative developers of retail real estate.


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Holiday prep includes tips for capturing customers whenever and wherever they shop.



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The Great CEO Exodus Executive search firms have their work cut out for them these days. From Gap and Bed, Bath & Beyond to The Real Real and Vera Bradley, the retail industry has been rocked in recent months by a flood of CEO departures. As to the reasons behind what sometimes seems like a mass exit, industry experts believe it reflects the disruption that has made the retail landscape increasingly challenging. Just when things seemed to be getting back to “normal,” inflation reared its ugly head. And that’s not all. “The art and science of retailing has undergone a sea change during the past three years, first with COVID and now with raging inflation,” said Craig Johnson, president of Consumer Growth Partners. “At the same time, retail CEOs have had to face a host of newer issues, ranging from labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, cultural issues —and now a recession that may already be in its third month.” Craig Rowley, senior client partner at human resources advisory firm Korn Ferry, echoed a similar sentiment, noting that retail has been on a roller coaster since the advent of the pandemic, calling the past couple of years “a real challenge for every retail CEO.” “CEO turnover in retail is being driven by the challenges in the industry and the economy over the last couple of years,” he said. “And the situation has been exacerbated by the dramatic change in the market since the spring. Inflation is up, gas prices are up and people are going back to work in the office.” Some exits have been driven by a company’s board, which sees a new CEO


as a solution to get back on track. (That seemed to be the case in the abrupt departure of Sonia Syngal at the Gap.) “This is especially true in those organizations that are impacted by activist investors who are demanding change of leadership and new strategies to improve the value of the company,” Rowley said. “Often these investors have purchased shares at a low market price with an objective to restructure the company and get a significant improvement in stock price in the near term. They often have ideas of who the CEO should be.” Indeed, many industry experts cite activist investor Ryan Cohen as playing a key role in the recent departure of Mark Tritton at Bed Bath & Beyond. (Prior to that, Cohen essentially remade the executive suite at GameStop.) There are also those executives who believe now is the time to move on and bring in the next generation. “ This is particularly true of organizations where they have developed session plans and have laid the foundation for all the challenges a CEO is going to face in the next five years,” Rowley noted. Johnson pointed out that the wide range of challenges facing today’s retail bosses require a more diverse skill set than traditionally has been the case — one that goes far beyond the traditional merchandising or store ops route to the corner office. And given the current environment, Rowley doesn’t see much relief — at least not yet. “As the economy continues to struggle, we will continue to see additional CEO turnover,” he said.

Marianne Wilson mwilson@chainstoreage.com


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in Retail Awards By CSA staff


or the past seven years, Chain Store Age’s Top Women in Retail Technology awards have recognized female executives who are helping to transform the retail industry through the use of technology. This year, the program was expanded to honor not only the accomplishments of women in technology, but in other critical areas of retail as well. CSA’s 2022 Top Women in Retail winners include a diverse array of female executives that includes C-suite executives, VPs, managers and directors. They share a passion for retail and a determination to keep their companies positioned for success at a time of unprecedented industry change. The Top Women in Retail honorees were recognized in four areas: • Store Development/Facilities • Real Estate • Supply Chain • Technology In addition, a special category — Women of the Year — was reserved for C-level executives who have made exception contributions to their companies in the areas above. The Top Women in Retail winners were celebrated for their accomplishments in a virtual awards ceremony sponsored by Melissa, Nest and BrandPoint Services.


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WOMEN OF THE YEAR DONNA CAPICHANO Chief Development Officer Shopko Optical • Capichano calls “taking a big career bet on Shopko Optical” one of her proudest accomplishments. As the company’s chief development officer, she played a critical role in transitioning Shopko retail stores into what is now Skopko Optical, creating an 81-location optical chain in 11 states in 180 days. The job included negotiating leases, executing buildouts, coordinating construction and more. Shopko Optical will have over 140 locations by the end of 2022. • The former Kohl’s VP (2005-2011) played a key role in the department store retailer’s aggressive expansion plans, opening 100 stores year, and helping the compay grow to over 1,000 stores in 2008 in 48 states. • Committed to creating more opportunities for female executives, Capichano mentors individuals directly out of college. “I’m proud when I see them flourish in their success,” she said. “We need to be willing to be vulnerable and share our career journey with each other and with young women beginning their careers.”


CAROL GLASER Chief Merchandising Officer/Senior VP Bob’s Discount Furniture • Glaser, a 25-year retail (and 14-year Bob’s Discount Furniture) veteran, has seen things change dramatically for the better for women and says one of the most fulfilling parts of her job is “knowing that my daughters can look at my place of work and see many females in leadership positions.” • The CMO’s proudest career achievement came in 2018, when she and her team responded to the tariffs put on China, which at the time provided 55% of imported items at Bob’s. Her predominantly female team traveled to Asia three times in 11 weeks, shifting sources to other countries in record time. She also takes great pride in helping Bob’s steer its way through extraordinary business challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We made over-communicating with our vendors a company-wide priority and this helped us to restart quicker than our peers,” she said. • Recently, Glaser took on the role of Executive Sponsorship of the Women’s Business Group at Bob’s, which includes female leaders of all levels. Men are welcome to join the group, she added. CHAINSTOREAGE.COM

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AMANDA MARTIN Senior VP, Chief Supply Chain Officer Neiman Marcus Group • Martin has always focused on building teams that win together, taking leadership inspiration from Greek philosopher Aristotle, who once said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” She sees her team at Neiman Marcus Group as a testament to this theory, and said she “could not be prouder of who we are and what we have and will accomplish.” • Neiman Marcus has always used air freight as its primary mode of transportation, which helped the retailer to be much more flexible than most of its competitors when supply chain issues occurred. “I expect to see other retailers heading in a similar direction over the next few years,” said Martin, who added it will be “extremely important” for retailers to maintain strong relationships with brand partners and vendors and to continue to look for areas of opportunity to expand capacity. • Martin believes that focusing on creating diversity and equity in the technology industry will create a better and more sustainable supply chain for all. The change needs to start at the top, she said, with technology and supply chain leaders actively promoting and supporting women executives and associates. HEATHER MICKMAN CIO Gap Inc. • For the past year, Mickman has overseen the technology engine driving innovative retail, e-commerce, and global enterprise technology for Gap Inc. “I’m honored to be CIO of an organization like Gap, with iconic brands,” she said. “I’m working to make Gap a more digitally led environment.” • At Gap, she has focused on areas including quality delivery, engineering excellence and business responsiveness. These efforts all contributed to the technology team’s delivering a flawless peak over the holiday season and continuing to increase project velocity and quality. • While Mickman appreciates that there is much more focus on women in technology now than when she began her career 25 years ago, she still stresses the importance of organizational transparency regarding gender diversity. “Organizations should make gender diversity a formal goal to attract and retain talent,” she said. “Women should be provided opportunities to grow in their careers and have doors opened to them.” 10

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SHELLY MOORE CIO Associated Wholesale Grocers • As CIO of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Moore leads a team of technology-enabling change agents. Through the application of technology, she and her team are helping AWG transition from an $11 billion wholesale distributor to a $33 billion cooperative retailing enterprise. • Moore oversees next-generation workflow automation as well as advanced enterprise collaboration among 1,100 retail employees at 3,300 stores, more than 3,500 supplier partners, and the entire AWG merchandising, merchandising support and field merchandising organizations. • Moore and her team have a full plate. They are working across the AWG end-to-end infrastructure to help elevate the roles and contribution of employees, redesign business process, and apply data, analytics and applications to improve the overall cost to both collaborate and operate technology. She believes technology can enable organizational and operational improvements that improve overall cost and efficiency — and help ensure that store shelves are stocked every day.

STORE DEVELOPMENT/FACILITIES JENNIFER BRIDGES Senior VP, Asset Development Murphy USA • Bridges credits growing up with three brothers as “good training” for being “the only woman in the room” — a position she has found herself in quite often throughout her career. She is fortunate at Murphy USA, however, “to be surrounded by inspiring women leaders at the top of their functions and the top of their game,” she said. “Strong female leadership throughout the company helps unravel preconceptions of what a leader is and who they should be.” • While she is proud of achievements that include championing the transformation of store development programs at 7-Eleven earlier in her career and joining Murphy USA in 2017, the people and careers she has positively impacted along the way is what makes her the happiest. • As to what it takes to succeed in store development, here is Bridges’ formula for success: Be respectfully fearless. Ask questions. Take direction, but challenge it. Listen and learn. And accept “big jobs.” JULY/AUGUST 2022


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KARA CUTINO VP, Store Development, Asset Protection, Store Purchasing & Facilities Services Ascena • Prior to joining Ann Taylor in 2010, Cutino spent 14 years at Sears Holdings, where she learned the value of building a dedicated team. “When I started at Sears, it was like working for a family rather than a business,” she said. “I had wonderful leaders and great role models. That foundation is what helped me build another dedicated team at Ann Taylor.” • Cutino’s proudest moment was her ability to keep her team intact during Ascena’s purchase of Ann Taylor in 2017. “I’m not only proud of creating teams comprised of associates that had been with me for the past 13-plus years, but that they also wanted to stay on this journey with me.” • She believes the best way for female professionals to expand skill sets and drive opportunities is to stay inquisitive. “You don’t know what you don’t know so be sure to observe and listen to everyone around you,” she said. “Be in tune to who can help you grow, find other professionals you feel safe with and don’t be afraid to ask questions.” ANGELA GEARHEART VP, Connected Brand Experience Sleep Number • Gearheart has spent almost two decades elevating Sleep Number’s in-store experience to best-in-class status by seamlessing integrating physical and digital retail. In the process, she helped transform the brand from a “sleep tech” brand to a leader in sleep health & wellness. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed: Sleep Number’s immersive retail experience has been honored with numerous industry awards.

LORI KOEPPE A Operations Coordinator The Buckle • Koeppe’s role includes supporting The Buckle by coordinating store remodels; new store openings; fixturing programs, disaster response and home office support as being a part of the operations team that works with design, construction and facility maintenance. • “Retail is changing and evolving all the time and that also has produced many more professional opportunities for both men and women,” she said. “If you’re good at problem solving, planning and can be adaptive you will do well – and these skills are often a particular sweet spot for women candidates.” • Koeppe said she feels one of her greatest professional accomplishments is serving and meeting the needs of the store and home office teams. “Recently, we were visiting a store, analyzing flood damage caused by a sprinkler main break,” she recalls. “The district manager introduced us to a young part-time store associate and explained ‘These are the people who take care of us and get things done.’ If I had to write about how I hoped someone would describe me, that would be it.” MONICA MUNOZ Director, Asset/Facilities Management DaVita • Munoz is most proud of her ability to face new challenges head on. “I am not one to shy away from something that I believe is the right thing just because the journey may be hard,” she said. “Pride comes from making a difference in people’s lives, environments and the bottom line.”

• To date, Gearheart has championed more than 35,000 national and local Sleep Number pop-up experiences, including one installation at the Super Bowl.

• Munoz urges retailers not to discount the voice of female professionals and their role in expanding business opportunities. “A female perspective is usually very different than a male perspective, and a combination of the two is a good recipe for greater success.”

• The Sleep Number veteran is a big advocate of mentoring when pursuing professional opportunities. “Determine the skills and resources you need, and don’t be afraid to reach out to partners across your organization,” she advised. “Create your own personal ‘Board of Directors’ — a group of trusted professional and personal advisors that can serve as your team for advice on decisions, ideas and ‘real’ honest feedback.”

• The best advice Munoz ever received is in a quote from former Disney Media co-chair Anne Sweeney: “Define success in your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life that you are proud to live.” The quote has taken on many different meanings at different times for Munoz, who said, “I believe those of us who remain true to our desire to grow — despite attitudes and rejections we may receive along the way — will succeed.”


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LEIGH PEARSON Senior Director, Facilities, Sustainability, Sourcing and Procurement Staples Canada • Pearson started her career at Staples Canada as a store associate. A growing interest in operating company stores as safely and efficiently as possible propelled her up the corporate ladder. • Among her many responsibilities: identifying key sustainability opportunities across the company. “We have been “planet passionate” for over 20 years and I am proud of how we help Canadians make sustainable choices each and every day,” she said. • Facilities continues to be a male-dominated segment, but Pearson is encouraged by the increasing number of female executives. “For me, it was critical to gain credibility — regardless of gender — based on skill and ability.” She encourages other female executives pursuing a career in facilities to step out of their comfort zone. “Ask questions, and be comfortable being vulnerable and taking risks.” LISA SMOLA-HOLLO Project manager, Growth & Development Ulta Beauty • Smola-Hollo is a self-proclaimed problem-solver — a quality that has served her well in a 30-year career in retail store development. She plays a critical role at Ulta Beauty, responsible for lease negotiations, execution of brand design and the management of new construction projects.

• One of her proudest achievements dates back to her days as a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in architecture at Franklin University in Ohio. She worked with her professors to develop a project management specialty masters degree, “an opportunity that not only benefitted me, but gives others opportunities as well,” she explained. • Store development/construction was largely dominated by older males when Smola-Hollo started out, and it was hard for females to earn their respect. But that has changed with time, she said, as women continue to enter the field and rise through the ranks. At Ulta specifically, there are more female executives in powerful leadership roles, including across store development and real estate.”


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REAL ESTATE TRACY BARAN General counsel Ocean State Job Lot • As general counsel at Ocean State Job Lot, Baran played a crucial role during the pandemic working with landlords and government agencies. “Ushering my company through COVID was one of the biggest highlights of my career,” she said. • Baran has served as president of the Junior League of Rhode Island for more than 20 years. The organization is committed to developing the potential of women and improving communities through the action and leadership of trained volunteers. • What would Baran tell young women starting out in the industry? “Find a mentor, and don’t rule out male mentors. Some of my biggest champions were men. They helped me become aware of some of the habits that made me seem less confident or in control.” BECKY HARDIN Senior VP Real Estate and Store Planning Genesco • Hardin led Genesco’s team of real estate professionals through a multi-year cost-savings initiative that resulted in five years of rent savings. Following the pandemic, she led the implementation of an intelligent analysis software platform to drive real estate strategy. • In college, while raising a daughter on her own, Hardin took a job as a lease renewal assistant at Payless ShoeSource. She stuck with retail real estate after graduating, but had trouble finding female role models and opportunities in middle management. Consequently, she has strived to maintain a network of strong women dedicated to helping each other. • Hardin’s advice to women starting a career in retail real estate: “Get lots of sleep, eat well, exercise, and find things to do that you enjoy. Believe in yourself. Seek out mentors who will be honest with you and not just tell you want you want to hear.”



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NATALIE HOOPER Director of Site Selection, North America Nike • Hooper, a seven-year Nike veteran, holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. • She helps to drive Nike’s store expansion strategy. • Hooper puts great value on teamwork. SHANNON JOHNSON Real Estate Manager Lululemon • Johnson’s greatest joy on the job is opening a new store. “There’s so much hard work, planning and collaboration that goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “Seeing an enormous investment come to life is awe-inspiring.” • Before joining Lululemon, Johnson spent 14 years in the real estate department at women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS, departing as director of real estate. • She urges retailers to adopt the values of today’s customers. “People are becoming more insistent that the companies they shop with reflect their values,” Johnson said. “Companies can’t just talk the talk anymore. They must have real and authentic initiatives that advocate for the well-being of all.” LORI NUNEZ Lead National Director of Real Estate McDonald’s

• She counts her proudest achievement at America’s top fastfood chain as leading the reorganization of the real estate team. While site acquisitions teams used to report up through regional field offices, the function was moved to a centralized, national team. “Five years later, we have an amazing team of strong dealmakers and have seen some of the best results for our new store openings in many years,” Nunez said.

SUPPLY CHAIN LORI BOSSMAN Senior Marketing Specialist Ace Hardware • Responsible for generating and sustaining omnichannel growth for Ace Hardware, Bossman is also currently leading the company’s business transformation project and the implementation of SAP software. • Supply chains are much more complex today, said Bossman, which she sees as an advantage for women in the field. “The trade-offs between service, efficiency and costs are more transparent and that drives efficient, objective decision making,” she said. “Driving decisions based on data instead of opinions levels the playing field for women and makes them more effective in supply chain roles.” • Bossman believes that the supply chain industry can still become more equitable and supportive of women executives — to its own benefit. “Retailers should purposely include women executives in company strategy discussions. The more a supply chain executive understands the customer, the better they can support business growth.”

• Nunez helped develop a centralized national team structure for site acquisitions that paid off big with 100 new locations in 2022 and another 150 planned for 2023. Co-workers regard her as a skilled leader who knows how to engage with all stakeholders — an essential talent for an executive who works with thousands of franchisees nationwide. • A proponent for diversity in the industry, Nunez enlisted a team from McDonald’s to help North Carolina Central University establish the first real estate program to be offered at a historically black college.


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BECCA MEINZ VP, End-to-End Supply Chain Best Buy • Meinz got involved in the supply chain while on the Best Buy finance team. The company was recognizing the need to expand its dotcom capacity and bring automation into its distribution centers. Meinz became strategic lead for the project and created the business case for investment, opening up a path into a supply chain leadership role. • Things are changing for the better for female supply chain professionals, according to Meinz. “We live in an increasingly connected, increasingly digital world that is driving us all to think more strategically and arrive at more elegant solutions, which can be more inviting to women than traditional operations. • Meinz advises women considering a supply chain career to be bold, open and authentic. “Raise your hand and take on new challenges,” she said. “Embrace all that you are and lead from the heart.” STEPHANIE SMITH Senior VP Supply Chain The Home Depot • As senior VP supply chain for The Home Depot, Smith oversees a growing network of facilities that support the needs of customer projects of all sizes. She is at the forefront of efforts to transform the home improvement supply chain for maximum reliability. • Smith has incorporated modern technology like robotics, AI and machine learning to help the retailer improve the employee experience and enhance productivity to serve its customers faster and more efficiently. She has also played a key role in setting up new inventory flow paths, utilizing distribution platforms in new ways and accelerating projects to meet changing customer demands. • Smith sees progress in efforts to put more women in leadership roles across the supply chain. “We certainly still have room to improve, but I’ve been encouraged by a healthy trend of intentional mentorship and broader efforts from leaders to help women in our field advance their careers at all levels,” she said.


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AINI TJAN Senior Sourcing Manager Albertsons Companies • Tjan successfully led her sourcing team at grocery giant Albertsons Cos. through the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. • Among her proudest accomplishments: leading her team to ensure that the grocer’s non-food Own Brands portfolio was available to its customers at a time of significant supply chain disruption. “The challenges we faced required creativity, problem-solving skills, and an incredible amount of motivation to keep everyone on the team inspired, positive and energized to turn problems into opportunities,” she stated. • Tjan has two pieces of advice for women starting out in their supply chain careers: “First, focus on doing the right things to get the job done successfully … delivering results earns immediate respect.” Second, she recommends that women entering the supply chain take on the role of mentor and “advocate for other hard-working women who are starting their career in the industry.”

TECHNOLOGY DONNA ARNOLD Senior Director, Retail Systems and IT Financials Sally Beauty • During her college days at The University of Texas, Arnold was one of a handful of women majoring in information. Now, going back to college campuses for recruiting, she is happy to see the growth in the number of women interested in a career in technology. • Arnold found her “sweet spot” in the retail technology footprint, specifically within the store technology capabilities. “I’ve had the pleasure to lead several large POS implementations for numerous retailers, most recently Sally Beauty.” • She advises retailers to turn their stores into “mini-warehouses” to meet customer expectations of near-real-time product delivery to their home. “Retailers are learning that inventory accuracy is required to meet omnichannel demands, and how ecommerce sales are impacting their store inventory assortments and demand plans,” she said. JULY/AUGUST 2022





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ROBIN BEIGHLEY VP, Retail Stores and Operations Fossil North America • Throughout her 20-plus-year career, Beighley has demonstrated leadership and collaboration within all levels of any company she has worked at to achieve high target goals. • At Fossil North America, Beighley and her team have transformed the brand’s frontline employee experience using cloud-based operational management technology as part of their tech-stack. Fossil’s IT team is leveraging the cloud to create an inclusive and positive employee experience and has created an open forum for employee feedback. Employees have been encouraged to share their ideas on all components of operations. • Beighley’s technology and operational efforts have resulted in higher employee satisfaction. This, in turn, has translated to a higher level of customer service and improved employee retention and engagement. Additionally, employee feedback has generated ideas on cost-savings for packaging and additional sustainability initiatives for employee recognition, such as planting a tree in honor of an employee. ERICA FORTUNE Senior VP, E-commerce Big Lots Inc. • Fortune leads omnichannel initiatives for Big Lots, providing leadership in such areas as user experience, site operations, site merchandising, personalization, testing, search, front-end development and product management. • Within the parameters of her role at Big Lots, Fortune has tripled the e-commerce business during the last two years. • Other accomplishments include her leading the launch of buyonline-pickup-in-store (BOPIS); same-day delivery; ship-fromstore; curbside pick-up; and a presence on the Instacart online delivery marketplace — all within a 12-month time period.


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MURIEL GONZALEZ Executive VP, chief merchandising/ marketing officer The Vitamin Shoppe • Joining The Vitamin Shoppe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gonzalez has helped the specialty retailer thrive throughout this challenging time. She is a veteran executive of leading retailers that include Macy’s and Ann Taylor. • At Vitamin Shoppe, Gonzalez has focused on building private brands — leading the redesign of product labeling and imaging — and also adding new items from up-and-coming vendors. • She has kept the company at the forefront of trends and led her team to work with vendors to ensure the retailer has the appropriate inventory to meet customer demand. DEEPTHI KAPILA E-commerce Leader (Director) Microsoft Store Americas • Kapila has played a crucial part in the digital transformation journey of Microsoft Store after Microsoft made the strategic decision to permanently close its physical stores in 2020. • “I am proud to not only help Microsoft deliver on its growth aspirations, but also empower our customers and community through technology,” she said. Her proudest accomplishments are those where she has empowered others through technology, such as shaping Microsoft Store’s technology strategy to help local school districts transform the student experience during the pandemic. • Despite progress in the last few decades, Kapila says women, particularly women of color, are still very much underrepresented in retail technology. “We are finally getting buy-in on why it is critical for businesses to close this gap. Companies are realizing that diversity and inclusion is not extra, but essential for a business to be successful in the long term.”



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StoreSpaces e-newsletter The only industry newsletter dedicated to store planning & design, construction, and facilities management. Get the latest news on retailers’ expansion and remodeling programs, new store prototypes, green initiatives, facilities updates and more. Find out who’s opening stores and where. CSA StoreSpaces covers retail development and facilities management inside and out.

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ERIN LEVZOW VP of Marketing and Digital Technology Del Taco • Levzow says women in the technology industry should always remember to be themselves. “You don’t have to conform or change who you are to fit in. “Be whoever you are.” • Looking back at her career, she said one of her proudest moments was working with her team to launch Del Taco’s first-ever rewards program last September. Another highlight: helping to lead the creation and build of Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel, which includes a theater, three restaurants and two bars in downtown Milwaukee. • Levzow sees artificial intelligence (AI) becoming even more important to the retail technology space in the next year or so. “AI, and where it will go, is still going to be really interesting for our industries,” she said. “Technology has accelerated during the pandemic, and the goal is to not slow down.”

ANDREA REDONDO VP of E-commerce Sedano’s Supermarkets • As VP of e-commerce for Sedano’s Supermarkets, Redondo has seen women come to make up more than one-third of the technology workforce and even take leading roles at major technology companies around the world. She advises other women entering technology careers to focus on their commitment to themselves and focus on their goals, not obstacles. • The VP takes pride in all of her career achievements. “It’s important for me to appreciate the effort put forth at every stage in my career,” she said • Looking ahead, Redondo sees industry trends including social commerce, experimental commerce, “phygital” (physical and digital) commerce, metaverse and cryptocurrency to be dominant in the next 12-18 months. “We are seeing these trends expand and grow day by day, however they are all still


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relatively new,” she said. “There is still much more for us to explore and determine when it comes to these trends.” SHELLEY SCARBERRY Technology, Senior DirectorInfrastructure Delivery and Support The Home Depot • In her role at The Home Depot. Scarberry uses technology to improve the experience of employees and store customers. • She impacts people and processes through relationship management, budget creation and implementation, cost control, trending, technology support center efficiency, forecasting, team motivation and mentoring, with a track record for driving results. • During her 10-plus years at Home Depot, Scarberry has ensured strategic alignment of business and IT, managed business relationships, monitored the state of business, managed and coordinated strategic activities for staff, developed IT plans in support of specific business objectives, and defined requirements and design for IT projects in support of key business objectives. • Under her leadership, Home Depot teams in areas that include technology, support center live chat, distribution center opening and CCTV refresh have all received technology awards from the company. CHERYL SEAWARD Loyalty Manager Imperial Oil • Seaward sees her role as loyalty manager at Imperial Oil — focused on Canada ExxonMobil stores — as being at the intersection of marketing and technology, and she couldn’t be happier. “I love it,” Seaward said. “COVID-19 has accelerated the digital era, and women as a key consumer segment know the frustrations and what could be better.” • Seaward played an instrumental part in the recent launch of the PC Optimum program at Esso and Mobil gas stations, followed by the launch of PC Optimum rewards redemption program at Esso, which allowed Imperial to simplify its consumer offer within a single loyalty platform.


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• Women considering careers in retail technology have many different job opportunities, noted Seaward. “Women drive the majority of all consumer purchases through influence or buying power, yet we have just scratched the surface of women in technology. And there are many technology-centric roles that don’t require coding backgrounds.” WENDI SENHAUSER Senior IT manager Abercrombie & Fitch • For over 20 years at Abercrombie & Fitch, Senhauser has been a leader in delivering and implementing store technology across all the specialty apparel retailer’s stores. • Senhauser’s leadership style, project management, strategic planning and retail knowledge in retail have distinguished her throughout her career. She is a graduate of Marshall University with a degree in business. AMBER TURLEY Senior Director, Omni Experience, Digital Strategy and Partnerships Sephora • Turley describes the past two years that she spent driving the omnichannel business at Sephora as transformative and fulfilling. “It is incredibly rewarding to build convenient and connected client experiences, working across nearly every part of the organization to bring the vision to life.” • Sephora’s focus on a healthy and supportive culture has been essential to supporting Turley as a working mother, she said. “I give a lot of credit to supportive leaders who focus on my impact and allow me the flexibility to drive my calendar and push back when something doesn’t work for my personal life.” • Turley advises women in the technology space to have a healthy sense of curiosity: “Spend the time digging into any opportunity that could be a driver for your company and even areas beyond your responsibility for the sake of learning. Be a sponge and learn as much as you can.”


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Brand Reputation: Risks, Rewards By Nir Kossovsky and Denise M. Williamee Consumers and other stakeholders are putting their money where their morals are and expect the chains and brands they do business with to do the same. Retailers’ reputational processes usually run through marketing to keep their fingers on the pulse of their customers. In a commercial environment where regulators, investors, employees and social activists are as important as customers, retailers need a better process. Stakeholder expectations may be as as changeable as the weather, but in industries where the reputations behind brands carry significant value, failure to meet those expectations can have material financial consequences. Hot button social issues are top of mind, and retailers need a process for navigating them, balancing the wants of their stakeholders with their responsibilities to their shareholders, and preemptively preparing for new crises as they appear on the horizon. In this era of environmental stewardship, social justice and dutiful governance (ESG), divisive politics, a 24-hour news cycle, and weaponized social media, that can feel like a thorny path to tread, but it’s one that is essential to maintenance of reputational resilience. Chief executive officers themselves opened the door to stakeholder sway over corporate priorities when they signed onto the Business Roundtable pledge in 2019, which elevated the environment, communities, employees and other stakeholders to the level of shareholders and redefined the purpose of a corporation as promoting ‘An Economy That Serves All Americans.’ Risk Management Companies with strong reputation risk management processes in place can navigate these issues effectively. Dick’s Sporting Goods, for instance, was able to

make a fast decision after a mass shooting to stop selling assault weapons and restrict the sale of other firearms. Their speed and decisiveness set Dick’s apart from its competition, signaling a solid reputation risk management process. CVS Health was lauded when it moved proactively to stop the sale of tobacco products and outperformed the market by 9.3%.

Hot button social issues are top of mind, and retailers need a process for navigating them. Companies with strong reputation risk management processes outperform their peers in the aftermath of a crisis. Now, considering the latest social upheaval, the overturn of Roe v. Wade, retailers with a national presence have been trying to figure out how they’re going to respond. What do their customers and employees expect of them? What will it cost them if they get the answer wrong? Time and time again, companies have been clearly caught on their heels, too often relying on marketing alone to address reputational risks. They need to keep their fingers on the pulses of more than just customers. What they need are 21st century enterprise-wide reputation risk governance and management processes designed to mitigate 21st century problems. They should be equipped to gather intelligence about the expectations of all their


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stakeholder groups: employees, customers, community leaders, investors and regulators. Having a finger on the pulse of these varying opinions is crucial, as is an intimate knowledge of corporate values and capabilities, so that responses to hot button issues can happen in real time. Which expectations can they meet or manage—and is there a benefit to doing so? And for the ones they can’t, can they calculate the potential cost of disappointing any given stakeholder group and account for the resulting financial and reputational impact with insurance? Companies with robust, authenticated processes in place to manage social and reputational risks, whether called ESG or by another name, see their stock price outperform their peers. Signaling with ESG insurance, reputation insurance or providing other forms of validation by outside parties tells a simple, compelling, and completely credible story about good governance that can be a strong strategic defense against disappointed stakeholders and reputational damage. A recent analysis by Steel City Re found that companies with strong reputation risk management processes outperform their peers in the aftermath of a crisis. That “reputation premium” doubles when they’ve communicated about their process publicly. There’s always going to be a new reputational crisis looming on the horizon, a new issue dominating the social conversation, and while predicting the changing tides will be challenging, reputational risk management processes will determine which companies stay afloat and which get swept away. ­— Nir Kossovsky is CEO of Steel City Re, which uses parametric reputation insurances, ESG insurances, and risk management advisory services to mitigate the hazards of ESG and reputation risk. Denise Williamee is the firm’s VP of corporate services. JULY/AUGUST 2022


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TRENDING STORES: Athleta is on track to open 30 to 40 new stores in 2022, including its first-ever outlet locations. The women’s athletic apparel brand, a division of Gap Inc., will open a 3,100-plus-sq.-ft. outlet store at Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, Ill., this summer, followed by a 3,300-plus-sq.-ft. store at Leesburg Premium Outlets in Leesburg, Va., in the fall. Athleta’s expansion plans include Canada, where it plans to add four additional locations by yearend. … It’Sugar is opening a 20,355-sq.-ft. pop-up “candy department store” in New York City’s Times Square this fall. The store, which will take over space on W. 42nd St. that formerly housed sporting goods retailer Modell’s, will combine the brand’s signature larger-than-life in-store displays, brand characters and immersive candy experiences with thousands of varieties of sweets and candy-themed gifts. In the spring, It’Sugar opened an 11,400-sq.-ft. pop-up in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, on a site vacated by Disney, followed by a 10,600-sq.-ft. foot pop-up in San Francisco’s Union Square. The company said its pop-up locations generally have lease terms ranging from 13 to 36 months. … Skechers has gone big in New Jersey. The athletic lifestyle footwear brand opened a nearly 22,000-sq.-ft. “superstore” at The Mills at Jersey Gardens, in Elizabeth, N.J. It’s the company’s biggest East Coast retail destination to date, and includes a 4,000-sq.-ft. dedicated Skechers apparel shop. … Amazon will open the second location for its new brick-and-mortar apparel concept, Amazon Style, in the fall, at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. Amazon debuted the concept in May, at The Americana at Brand, in Glendale, Calif. … Canadian fashion brand Aritzia will open a 46,000-sq.-ft. flagship in Chicago, in what is the largest retail lease transaction executed in nearly a decade on the city’s Magnificent Mile. Located in a former Gap site, it will be the retailer’s fourth outpost in the Chicago area. Aritzia also is opening a three-level, 33,000-sq.-ft. flagship in Midtown Manhattan. …

Mango is looking to open more than 30 U.S. stores in the next three years. The Spanish fashion retailer is focusing on the state of Florida, with stores planned for Miami, Boca Raton, Orlando and Tampa. Beginning in 2023, it will head Westward, with stores in key cities in Arizona, Texas, Nevada and California. Mango recently opened a flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The three-level, 23,000-sq.ft. store is its second largest in the world.





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Help For Navigating FM Amid Uncertainty Rob Almond is CEO of NEST.

With cost efficiencies top of mind for retailers, Chain Store Age spoke with Rob Almond, CEO of NEST, a pioneer in integrated facilities management, about how NEST is helping companies navigate in today’s environment.

Many retailers say they need to cut costs in the face of uncertainty. What are three things NEST is doing to help its retail partners right now? There are several areas where we dive in with our existing partners and new ones during times of economic uncertainty, including financial consulting. When the facilities department is told they need to make cuts, NEST will help advise and analyze all outcomes. We work to determine the short-term and long-term repercussions of each scenario. Success is defined by the ability to understand and use data. We’re experts in this area. Another way we help is by prioritizing the customer experience. Our analytics tools can help decipher where a facilities department can cut its budget without impacting the customer experience. Realtime reporting and accruals ensure they know where they stand at every moment. Mobile technology is key to keeping managers and other personnel on the floor so they can focus on the customer. We also have no subscription fees. If a retailer is paying subscription fees for FM software, this is an area of immediate cost savings through NEST. It’s our policy at NEST not to charge tech fees. One more area of focus for NEST is tying the KPIs to customer satisfaction in the field. It’s essential to understand the impact that necessary cuts make in real-time. Through our custom NEST promoter score, we have the technology to analyze service verifications and tie them right back to KPI. Based on the data, we help retailers adjust quickly. In the context of the retail industry and FM, how does this economic climate compare to some of the other

periods of uncertainty? NEST was founded in 1994. We saw similar uncertainty in the housing crisis of 2008 and the months following 9/11 in 2001. We also supported our clients through the early COVID shutdowns, and we’re prepared to see them through the current economic climate. The common theme is cost savings while maintaining superior customer experiences. We helped our partners survive then, and we’ve added more strategies and resources to support our partners now to combat labor shortages, supply chain issues or other factors that may negatively impact an earnings report. How does NEST retain and attract talent? Our approach to the hiring process and employee retention mirrors many elements that job seekers are looking for in 2022 and beyond. That includes philanthropy through our “NEST Nurtures” endeavors, flexibility through a hybrid work environment, inclusiveness and transparency through regular communication, equality through training and learning, and culture by listening and responding. Our approach today looks a lot different than even three years ago when we were 100% in an office environment. We’re a better company for it in 2022. What trends do you see in the trades when it comes to recruiting and the workforce? The skilled trades need our support now more than ever. And when I say skilled trades, I’m including plumbing, HVAC, electrical and other critical areas such as janitorial, landscaping and floor care.


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It starts with grassroots and education. Roughly 10,000 baby boomers are expected to retire every day between now and 2030. NEST sponsors a construction camp for girls in the Philadelphia area through NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction). We work with some retail partners to support the programming throughout the summer. The MyWIC camp is free to all participants and provides hands-on experiences and mentorship. With women only making up 10% of the construction industry, there is a massive gap to close. Early education about the opportunities that exist in construction and the various trades will help. What are some common mistakes retailers make regarding their FM programs? Our partners understand the benefits of an integrated approach. We hear about their challenges with other models and why they want to get away from things like an hourly rate model that includes paying for emergency fees, overtime and trip charges. We also hear about the exorbitant costs associated with paying tech subscriptions and customization fees. Other missed opportunities exist in the areas of analytics and insights. When you’re working off Excel spreadsheets, you’re not able to get an accurate picture of the data, where you can save money and predict future trends. With an integrated approach, we become an extension of a retailer’s FM department and help them avoid common mistakes. And with the 24/7 nature of FM, we can help improve the quality of life. JULY/AUGUST 2022


7/28/22 7:58 PM


New Concepts Retailers pursue growth through spin-offs By Marianne Wilson For an increasing number of retailers, brick-and-mortar growth translates into spin-off concepts that allow them to broaden their appeal by targeting a more specific niche or reaching out to an entirely new audience — creating a new platform for growth in the process. Here are two recent examples.

location will offer local events and an in-store community board to support safe, pet-friendly interaction among neighbors. The new format, which puts Petco up against Tractor Supply Co. and regional players, comes as the chain, whose net revenue rose 4.3% to $1.47 billion in the first quarter, is expanding its physical presence in other areas as well. In January, the company entered into a partnership with Lowe’s to open in-store Petco shops inside Lowe’s locations.



Petco Health and Wellness Co. is going rural. The pet supplies and services giant is testing a new concept that features health-and-wellness products and services for farm animals as well as traditional pets. With an initial location in Floresville, Tex., the new Petco Neighborhood Farm & Pet Supply is designed as a one-stopshop for customers with pets and livestock such as horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats and other animals. Several more locations are expected to open this year. In addition to a curated farm and feed assortment and traditional pet supplies, Farm & Pet Supply features self-wash stations, mobile vaccination and grooming. It also offers curbside pickup, same-day delivery and buy online, pickup in store. The new concept provides Petco with the opportunity to capture significant incremental market share and share of wallet gains in the growing rural market. In remarks at Petco’s investor day in May, executive VP and chief stores officer Justin Tichy said the company had identified “hundreds of potential markets that we could serve.” Fourteen-percent of the U.S. population live in rural areas and the number is rapidly growing, with an estimated $7 billion total addressable market in small-town and rural locations, according to statistics cited by Petco. In 2021, exurban counties saw the biggest increase in population growth across the board, with about 80% gaining new residents. “These are rapidly growing markets where pet parents are looking for an experienced, pet-dedicated partner like Petco to help them care for the health and wellness of their animals,” said Ron Coughlin, CEO, Petco, which operates more than 1,500 pet care centers across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico. Petco’s Farm & Pet Supply centers will also serve as destinations for safe community gathering and connection. Each CHAINSTOREAGE.COM

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Lids is tapping into the lucrative college sports market. The retailer of licensed and branded sportswear is opening a new concept, Lids U, dedicated to collegiate sports product and apparel. Created as a space for fans to purchase products from their favorite schools, the stores will open in key college markets. Lids U made its debut in July, at Gurnee Mills, Gurnee, Ill. The company plans to expand the concept, opening a total of some 11 mall locations in 2022, with more to follow in 2023 and beyond. Lids U stores will feature a significant assortment of NCAA product with a curated selection of headwear, apparel and accessories from local, regional and national university and collegiate teams for men, women and children. Each store will also offer products unique to the market that it serves. According to Lids, the new concept was developed in response to Lids consumers seeking more NCAA product. “Our customers wanted to see more collegiate products in our stores, and we’re proud to now offer a space for consumers to shop the latest looks from their favorite collegiate teams,” said Lawrence Berger, co-founder and partner at Ames Watson, owner of Lids, and chairman of FanzzLids Holdings. Lids U will also carry the retailer’s signature assortment of licensed and branded merchandise. The new stores also house Lids’ Custom Zones, which allow consumers the opportunity to custom-embroider a product of their choice in-store.



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Space: Retail’s Current Frontier Here are some headlines seen on www.chainstoreage.com during the past few months… Dollar General Q4 profit falls despite higher sales; to open 1,110 stores Ross Stores to open 100 new stores in 2022 Kohl’s to open 100 small-format stores during next four years

Coresight, the retail data provider, noted that retailers opened 4,283 new stores through June 24 of this year. They announced 1766 closures. That’s a 7-to-3 ratio of openings to closings. In May, Mastercard Spending Pulse measured a 1.8% decline in e-commerce sales and a 10% increase in instore sales. A July beauty retail report from 1010data tracked a 14% drop in online purchases. Well-capitalized and highly valued retailers—post-pandemic and perhaps pre-recession—are expanding, greatly. The question is, “How and where-to?” CBRE’s retail real estate report for 2022’s second quarter declared that the retail space availability rate hit a 10-year low of 5.1% in the second quarter of 2022. As scores of retailers embark on expansion campaigns, new retail space completed last quarter was a record low of 3.6 million sq. ft. American retail’s quarterly bounty of new space could fit comfortably inside Mall of America’s 4.8 million sq. ft. CHAINSTOREAGE.COM

In this month’s list of the Top 10 Retail Center Experiences in America (p. 26), you’ll find retail real estate developers who—well before e-commerce’s pandemic emergence—began making space for with entertainment concepts, hotels, and residential properties. It was 2015 when Macerich decided that the jewel of its portfolio, Tysons Corner in the Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital, could be even more valuable. Gifted with a new stop on the Metro line to D.C., it added a hotel, an office building, and a luxury apartment tower and turned a great mall into an even more compelling live-work-play community. Hines’s Atlantic Station has space to spare, and the company’s director of specialty leasing Starr Cumming has used it to mold the center into a true star attraction in Atlanta. The United States Tennis Association holds its Atlanta Open there in July and Cirque du Soleil makes the center its stage in the final three months of the year. In 2021, Cumming filled a lot with a temporary basketball arena, the inaugural home of Overtime Elite, a developmental league for promising NBA recruits. Easton Town Center, meanwhile, was born with loads of land and uses it to keep expanding. The huge parcel that that L Brands’ Lex Wexner purchased decades ago allowed Easton’s operator, Steiner + Associates, to open a 16-acre new district in 2021 that features Arhaus, an RH Gallery, True Food Kitchen, and an Aloft Hotel. To check out the full stories of these three top experiences and seven others, turn the page.

Al Urbanski aurbanski@chainstoreage.com @AlUrbanski (Twitter)

Every Wednesday The only industry newsletter dedicated to store planning & design, construction, and facilities management. Get the latest news on retailers’ expansion and remodeling programs, new store prototypes, green initiatives, facilities updates and more. Find out who’s opening stores and where. CSA Store Spaces covers retail development and facilities management inside and out.

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Chain Store Age picks physical retail’s most engaging spots. By Al Urbanski



Columbus, Ohio

Why did Easton Town Center repeat as the No. 1 Retail Center Experience in 2022? Because it never stopped improving and adding things that make the 1,300-acre property more town than town center. Such as… • More art! The new District that opened at the center last year has art interwoven in alleyways, in seating areas, and on outside walls of stores. This year, a number of local mural artists did tribute pieces celebrating famed local muralist Walt Neil, recently deceased. Easton now offers art maps to visitors to take their own self-guided tours. • More dining and drinking! The complex now contains more than 50 restaurants, eateries, bars, and cafés ranging from chef-driven fine dining to popular local kitchens and emerging concepts. • More merry! Easton’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony has long been the most attended one in Columbus. In 2021, Steiner + Associates, which operates the center, lit several Christmas trees across the property. More than two million lights illuminated the trees. “The expansion of the tree lighting ceremony was a big deal for us, offering people a look at the many ways to experience 26

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Easton.” said Spencer Jordan, the property’s senior VP of leasing. “We connected the Town Center to Easton Gateway by taking the ring road and straightening it out. It connected the town center to Gateway, the power center.” Easton this year also introduced the Town Club of Easton, a $200 premium membership program that offers members free valet parking, exclusive discounts at promotions from retailers, access to members-only events, and $200 in annual gift cards. Steiner + Associates constantly updates features of the center to keep pace with changing consumer dynamics. One recent example was the reconfiguration of its freestanding Unity Pavilion into an apres-ski lodge with fireplaces and themed drinks for visitors in the colder months. “We are very confident that the brick-and-mortar environment we have will be successful and that even more offerings will be created for our guests,” said Yaromir Steiner, who more than 20 years ago helped create Easton Town Center with Lex Wexner of L Brands and Adam Flatto of The Georgetown Company.

“People are looking for quality more these days, and they’re willing to spend the money for quality,” Steiner continued. “They’re coming out of their homes after COVID with a vengeance, and they’ve been very responsive to Easton’s chemistry.” JULY/AUGUST 2022


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The Meadowlands, New Jersey


Tysons Corner, Virginia

Tysons Corner Mall, located in the affluent western suburbs of Washington, D.C., is a name familiar to everyone in retail real estate, like DiMaggio in baseball or Chamberlain in basketball. Opened in 1968, it was one of the prototypes of the Class A mega-malls with a selection of more than 300 stores and restaurants. Folks from all over the Capital region go there to shop classic retailers like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales and dine at Eddie V’s and The Capital Grille. Beginning in 2015, Tysons Corner Mall began a transformation into Tysons Corner Center and became the prototype for malls in the post-COVID era seeking to change their business plans from shop-shop-shop to live-work-play. In that year, Macerich, owner-operator of Tysons Corner undertook a 1.4 million-sq.-ft. expansion aimed at turning the property into a 24/7 urban hub. Soon encircling the original mall were an 18-story Hyatt Regency hotel, a 22-story Tysons Tower office building, and VITA Tysons Corner, a 429unit luxury apartment tower connected to the Tysons Corner Silver Line Metro Station that transports commuters into D.C. At its 1.5-acre Plaza, Tysons Corner Center is now rife with round-the-clock and round-the- calendar events. During the property’s Summerfest celebration, residents, shoppers, and office workers are treated to happy hours, movies, game nights, fitness classes, and a concert series. As the weather cools, the Plaza celebrates Oktoberfest and year-end holidays. “Tysons Corner was always one of the dominant retail venues on the East Coast. Now it’s so much more. People live there, people work there, visitors stay at the hotel there and the Plaza is the center of activity in what’s become a community within the community,” said Macerich’s executive VP of asset management Cory Scott, who was the property lead at Tysons Corner during the renovation. Macerich has long been a leading force in sustainability in retail real estate, and Tysons Corner is one of its great accomplishments in this area. The entire center is LEED Golddesignated and BREEAM-certified. 28

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The desire for one-of-a-kind retail center experiences is in Don Ghermezian’s DNA. His rug merchant grandfather Jacob operated a large bazaar in Uzbekistan before moving to North America to build West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America and create the Triple Five Group. His father and three uncles are pillars of the business. Twelve years ago, the company purchased Mills Corporation’s huge Xanadu center in the Meadowlands, and Don has driven the re-creation of that failed project. His ride has been more harrowing than the roller coaster at Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream. Despite the investment press’s constant badgering of the project (shut down by COVID just months after its October 2019 opening), visits to American Dream were 33.3% percent higher than they were in May 2021. The average increase for 200 top malls in the United States during that period was just 2.3 %, according to Placer.ai. American Dream aficionados don’t read the investment press, apparently. They’ve been flocking to The Meadowlands to experience the 27 rides at its theme park, to bask at the nation’s largest indoor swimming pool at DreamWorks water park, to ski indoors at Big Snow and skate on its regulation NHL ice rink, to view Manhattan on its 300-foot-high Dream Wheel and, of course, to shop or dine at its 450plus stores. “During spring break this year, our 11,000 parking spots were full by noon. More than 160,000 people visit our center daily. A recent guest survey learned that 92% of guests have come back to American Dream since their first visit, a mindblowing statistic,” said Ghermezian, who runs the property and is CEO of Triple Five. Negative press notwithstanding, Ghermezian has doggedly pursued his mission to offer consumers experiences unlike any they’d find in any other retail center. The recent deal he made with Live Nation is a great example. In May, Triple Five signed a deal with the concert promoter consortium to book exclusive entertainment and trade shows at the property. Hip-hop star Ludicris was the first headliner in May, and was followed by rappers Lil Tjay and Shek Wes, and DJ Steve Aoki (above). “We had over 250 events in Q1 alone and anticipate that number to grow to 2,000 annually,” Ghermezian said. Sounds like the forger of American Dream follows the wisdom of another well-known creator of theme parks, Walt Disney, who said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”




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A pandemic is hardly the thing a developer figures to occur during the Phase 1 opening of a 170-Acre mixed-use facility planned to top out at four million sq. ft. of GLA. COVID-19 led Tuscan Village developers to tear up some of their blueprints. “It caused us to make a huge shift in the inventory of space. We doubled the amount of residential, said Mike Powers, senior VP of retail at the massive development. The pandemic led droves of Bostonians to New Hampshire-which does not impose a state income tax—and Tuscan Village’s first apartment units were snapped up quickly. The project’s retail footprint now exceeds 700,000 sq. ft., in a space that sits across from Simon’s 150-store Mall at Rockingham Park. Its retail brands feature national favorites (Nike, L.L. Bean, Ulta, Old Navy) with an emphasis on home goods stores (Arhaus, Container Store, Sleep Number, Williams Sonoma). One of the most popular stops for visitors is the Tuscan Market owned by Tuscan Village developer Joe Faro. The Beer Garden is a nightly magnet for patrons of a summer concert series. Just opened in July at Tuscan Village was the 70,000-sq.-ft. Mass General Brigham medical center, a 23-hour medical facility that will do imaging and day surgery. It’s the first center opened in New Hampshire by the venerable Boston hospital. “What’s happened in the last two years proved out how important it is to have everything in one place,” Powers said. “Having music and recreation and a lake—and also making it easy for residents to go see a doctor.”



Oak Brook, Illinois

Tim Geiges, the senior general manager of Oakbrook Center for the last four years, says that he always admired this Brookfield property during his long Chicagoland career. “It’s the hub of the Western suburbs and beyond,” said Geiges. “It’s also the place where retailers want to launch their new concepts.” It was one of the first stops for Puttshack and it’s the first site of The Table and Crate, Crate & Barrel’s first and only instore restaurant. The outdoor mall has seen shopping rise after a 2013 renovation that transformed Oakbrook into a “village” with green spaces, revitalized storefronts, and warming pavilions. Walkways are lined with a score of bars and restaurants CHAINSTOREAGE.COM

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Atlanta, Georgia

Real estate pros hate vacant space, but Starr Cumming loves it, and lots of it. Without ample ground space at Atlantic Center, Hines’s retail director of specialty leasing wouldn’t be able to host USTA’s Atlanta Open every July at the 2 million-sq.-ft. center. Nor would she be able to have Cirque du Soleil headline its event calendar from October through December. Vacant space’s gift to Cumming last year was Overtime Elite Arena, an NBA development league that pays salaries of $100,000 to hot young ballers who don’t care to showcase their talents at colleges. Prior to Overtime Elite’s inaugural season in 2021, executives from the organization visited Atlantic Station looking for temporary office space and were put in touch with Cumming. When she learned what the company was about, she walked them down the road to an empty lot and asked, “How would it be to put your arena right here?” “But we need this in six months,” one of the league execs replied. “No problem,” Cumming said. “I know the guy who put up a temporary arena for Super Bowl Saturday night last time it was played here.” Cumming called him, he erected the 103,000-sq.-ft. arena, and Atlantic Station became the home of Overtime Elite basketball. Atlantic Station’s senior property manager Cornell Holmes said that he and Cumming have done specialty deals together that no one’s ever done before. “Starr walks into my office and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got this crazy idea,’ and I already have my yes hat on,” Holmes said. “We like to focus on the experience as the way to drive traffic. What can we create for ourselves that no one else has thought of?”


Salem, New Hampshire


6 such as The District food hall, Antico Posto, Old Town Pour House, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, and Picolo Buco, a new concept from Cooper’s Hawk. Last year, thousands of visitors from Illinois and out of state flocked to Oakbrook Center to see “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition,” which featured life-sized recreations of the Renaissance artists masterpieces. “We have a lot of people who come to Oakbrook, but not to shop,” Geiges said. “It’s not unusual for some people to come here on a shopping trip and end up staying several hours.” 29

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Katy, Texas

One unique feature of Poag Shopping Centers’ La Centerra (besides the clock tower that’s visible for miles) is that it’s a dog-friendly property. Most of its stores and restaurants allow dog access. That draws both dog owners and lovers, of course, something that led to the creation of its annual Paws Fest. “This year we invited Dock Dogs, a competition that has dogs diving into a 30-foot swimming pool,” said Norma Garza, La Canterra’s GM for the past five years. “We let anybody who wanted to let their dogs jump take part, but we also drew professionals from outside Texas. Five thousand people attended.” La Centerra’s 200 annual events are driven by text and email input from customers and by its location near Katy’s downtown. It hosts farmers markets, Mondays with Mommy, Fit Fridays, Earth Day Bash, car shows, and the International Women’s Day Market, at which female tenants of the center and other women-owned businesses in Katy showcase their products. “We had about 20 businesses that participated and got a tremendous response. The next day we had a huge uptick in our social media reach. We gained 250 new followers,” Garza said. And, oh yes, La Centerra at Cinco Ranch would not have made our list without a stunning roster of more than 90 tenants. Among them: Alamo Draft House, Sport Clips, Torchy’s Tacos, Sephora, Pure Barre, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Loft, Jos. A. Bank, Francesca’s, and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.



St. Louis Metro

The site off the South 5th Street Exit in St. Charles, Mo., had been a traffic-grabber since the 1960s, when the Noah’s Ark restaurant drew steady crowds until it closed in the Nineties. The site turned barren. Then Cullinan Properties arrived. The company that transformed a closed Caterpillar Tractor plant in East Peoria into a booming complex called The Levee District in East Peoria is in the process of doing the same alongside the Mighty Mississippi. The center packs



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Sacramento, California

Town & Country Village was built by contractor Jeré Strizek, who put up houses in outside of Sacramento. Nobody was buying them, though, because no stores were nearby. So Strizek bought 11 acres that had been an Arabian horse farm near his housing development and built his first shopping center. Town & Country is reputed to have been one of the first outdoor centers erected in the United States. The year was 1946. More than 2,000 customer ratings recently collected by the center, owned and operated by Phillips Edison & Company, averaged 4.3 out of five stars. To wit: “This little strip of stores always has what I need. Groceries from Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. Home goods and personal goods with Bed Bath & Beyond, and beauty and hair care at Ulta.” “My most frequented shopping center.” “I love to shop here. Everything I like and want is here. I have had great experience after great experience here.” “What’s important for us is to have a local feel and serve the community,” said KC Bills, Phillips Edison’s VP of portfolio management and development. Along with the popular national brands named by the happy customers, Town & Country has all the neighborhood gotta-haves like Anderson Bros. Pharmacy, Bee’s Nails, Citibank, Eyeglass World, Great Clips, and Jersey Mikes. Having two grocery anchors, however, sets it apart in the area. “Consumers are less willing to drive to multiple grocery stores than they used to be.” Bills observed.


1 million of sq. ft. residential, office, entertainment, dining, and retail uses on just 27 acres. Tenants like Napolis III , P.F. Changs, the Funny Bone Comedy Club, and AMC’s 8- screen theatre plus events such as the Beale Street Concert Series made South 5th Street a St. Louis destination once again. Streets of St. Charles’s retail lineup is a people-pleaser as well at a property that is the first true mixed-use center in Metro St. Louis. Buff City Soap, Orangetheory, Massage Luxe, and Mod on Trend lead the lineup. Food and beverage favorites include Bar Louie and Tucanos Brazilian Grill. “We built a streetscape that wasn’t cookie cutter. Every building’s different,” noted Cullinan CEO Matthew Beverly. “And if you leave the center and go just half a mile, you’ll get to the historical streets of St. Charles.” JULY/AUGUST 2022


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NO. 10 RIO

Gaithersburg, Maryland

When it comes to mixed-use properties, Peterson Companies thinks big. The Fairfax, VA, company originally re-created downtown Silver Spring, Md., some 20 years. But tastes have changed and Peterson has updated the center of town with new color schemes, gathering places, and a 300-ft.-long mural. It transformed an empty mile-and-a-half of land on the Potomac River into National Harbor, a tourist and conventioneer destination with 160 stores, 2,500 residents, a Topgolf, and a Gaylord Convention Center. This year it has put the finishing touches on its transmogrification of RIO, a 610,000-sq.-ft. center in Gaithersburg, a suburb north of the nation’s capital that mixes White House Black Market, Target, and two Marriott hotels with eateries like Yard House, Silver Diner, and True Food Kitchen on the shoreline of a 9-acre lake. “The lake is a unique attraction that has worked great for our food and beverage offerings, which have outdoor seating lakeside,” said Paul Weinschenk, Peterson’s president of retail. “We have a great, 3,000-sq.-ft. outdoor dining area.” Peterson worked with a local hospital group to add a milelong “Path to Wellness” along the lakefront, which has an

10 8,500-sq.-ft. playground with shade pavilions. Activities abound. Kids play on the bronze sculptures of Fridolin the Bear and Kimo the Cat around the area where Lakefront Live, a summer concert series, conjures a warm buzz with music and a beer garden. Peterson just signed a lease with Sportrock climbing centers to fill a 45,000-sq.-ft. former gym space next to Dave & Busters, making RIO 100% leased. “Traffic has been phenomenal,” Weinschenk said. “People are really thrilled to have a normal life again.”

MACERICH CONGRATULATES THE TOP WOMEN IN RETAIL HONOREES Lori Nunez, McDonald’s Natalie Hooper, Nike Shannon Johnson, Lululemon Becky Hardin, Genesco Tracy Baran, Ocean State Job Lot


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TECH VIEWPOINT a “customer-obsessed technology company” that will “embrace, rather than run from, the new frontiers of gaming.”

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Retailers discover ‘real world’ uses for NFTs

The premier newsletter showcasing technology and multi-channel, seamless retailing.

Retailers continue finding new ways to leverage non-fungible tokens (NFTs). For the uninitiated, NFTs are unique digital assets stored on a blockchain ledger which certifies the owner. NFTs have experienced a dramatic surge in popularity, with many individuals and entities selling certified, one-of-akind digital images, videos, audio recordings, and other files. There is general agreement that NFTs have a role to play in retail. However, industry players are still trying to determine what that role is. Recent coverage suggests that NFTs can perform many different functions, depending on a particular retailer’s needs and goals. Here are examples of three different retailers occupying the NFT space in three different ways.

From e-commerce and mobility to in-store technology and social media, Connected Retail keeps retail executives in the know about the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of retail tech.

GameStop Video game retailer GameStop is among the newest retail players in the NFT vertical. GameStop recently went live with a beta version of an online platform for buying, selling and trade NFTs. By building on the Immutable X protocol, which is based on the Ethereum Layer 2 open-source blockchain protocol, the retailer intends to enable faster, more affordable, carbon-neutral and nearly limitless transactions on the marketplace, which was built for launching gaming developer-focused NFT projects. Over time, GameStop says its NFT marketplace will encompass additional categories such as Web3 gaming, more creators and other Ethereum environments. GameStop may view NFTs as a way to create new revenue streams, relieve supply chain and inventory pressures, and increase its stock www.chainstoreage.com/register value. The company reported a growing net loss in the quarter ended April 30, although sales did rise. In a previous earnings call, GameStop CEO Matt Furlong said GameStop is still in the initial stages of turning itself into

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eBay eBay Inc. continues delving deeper into the sale of NFTs. The e-commerce marketplace has purchased NFT marketplace KnownOrigin, which enables artists and collectors to create, buy and resell NFTs via blockchain-supported transactions. eBay initially gave the green light to the purchase and sale of NFTs in May 2021. At that time, eBay said it would launch programs, policies and tools that will allow customers to buy and sell NFTs with greater ease and confidence, across a broader range of categories. eBay also plans to add new capabilities to bring blockchain-driven collectibles to its platform. Other recent eBay NFT ventures include a May 2022 partnership with NHL legend Wayne Gretzky. eBay›s first-ever «Genesis» NFT collection will feature 3D and animated images of athletes featured on Sports Illustrated covers over the years. Collectibles, such as trading cards, represent an increasingly important product category for eBay, and the company is not excluding digital collectibles from its efforts to build up authenticated markets. Starbucks Starbucks plans to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which will initiate Starbucks digital community membership and allow for access to exclusive experiences and perks. The themes of these collections will be based on new and existing Starbucks artistic content, as well as through collaborations with other artists and brands. Starbucks said it also may integrate its Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, as well as store designs and card art, into the NFT space. The coffee giant is taking NFTs beyond the role of static digital collectible and exploring their capability to serve as portals which can deliver gated content and enable direct customer engagement.

Dan Berthiaume dberthiaume@chainstoreage.com JULY/AUGUST 2022


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Seamless Opertions Via The Cloud Carl Hildebrandt, VP product management at Epicor, recently sat down with Chain Store Age to discuss how retailers can achieve truly seamless operations by cloud-enabling their enterprise. Epicor provides retail-specific enterprise software to promote business growth. By Dan Berthiaume What are the advantages of cloud-based POS solutions? You can significantly reduce costs and free up staff time because managing servers, software and networking equipment are no longer needed. Cloud IT also provides higher levels of security and data integrity because updates are frequent and automatic. Network management is also handled by qualified teams of IT experts and engineers that small businesses cannot afford. Real-time data recording allows you to stop worrying about saving and updating files. Cloud-based services make recovery from power outages or natural disasters faster, more affordable and simpler. Using cloud computing, retailers of any size can rapidly expand capacity and add new capabilities. Advanced analytics through artificial intelligence and machine learning can sharpen decision-making in core operations, including inventory, supply chain, pricing, orders, margin management and sales forecasting. How can retailers effectively offer a seamless omnichannel shopping experience? A few ideas to effectively create a seamless omnichannel experience include driving more business by offering additional convenient services such as local delivery, curbside pickup or BOPIS and providing flexible payment options and streamlining returns across channels. Another idea is to create in-store experience zones for niche product groups that leverage your supply chain to offer more variety and selection. CHAINSTOREAGE.COM

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What are the advantages of real-time visibility into retail operations? With predictive data and analytics, you can align and even get ahead of market trends. That includes ensuring your products, price and stock are consistently optimized to get the most return on every dollar. Advanced consumer data and analytics allow for personalized recommendations to every customer on items to add to their purchase, both in store and online. Recommendations and even promotional pricing offers can be triggered with purchases for your staff to share with your customers. You can forecast which products are increasing or decreasing in demand. Or determine the perfect price point for items, based on both global and local pricing data mined from your competitors. While trends in supply and demand are constantly shifting in one direction or another, there are often repeated and trackable instances where major environmental changes might shake up your business. Using historical data, retail software shows you month-by-month breakdowns of your sales metrics and tells you exactly how to reconfigure stock and optimize pricing. Leveraging your store’s own trend analysis, you can be better prepared for the ebb and flow of changing seasons and circumstance. You can also understand what you paid wholesalers for certain products during certain times, which allows you to make more informed decisions about when to buy to get the best prices. How can retailers maintain flexibility for unexpected issues, such as supply chain disruption and inflation spikes?

In the current economy of supply chain disruption and inflation, it’s never been more important to know what’s moving, what’s not, and what needs to be ordered. Having powerful inventory management that lets you track all your products in real time, know what you’ve sold and how long it takes to fulfill orders has never been more important. Independent retailers must have a clear understanding of where their business stands today and where it is headed. The power of business analytics lies in its ability to collect, analyze, and act upon real-time customer and business data. As a result, retail operations can adapt to changing economic conditions and customer demands more quickly. How does Epicor help retailers manage their operations? Epicor for retail point of sale (POS) and retail management solutions are built on decades of retail industry expertise. We work closely with our retailers to build software that’s made for them—to stay a step ahead of their changing needs. The full capabilities of our solutions also have the most complete and recognized customer support in the industry. Combined with retail-specific technology, Epicor’s customer support is the force you need to strengthen your service excellence and drive the customer loyalty that sets you apart. Connecting your operations to futureready technology expands your reach, accelerates growth and protects you from disruptions. It puts more time back in your day to run your business more efficiently and make smarter decisions.



7/28/22 7:59 PM


Holiday Tech Prep Capture customers whenever and wherever they shop By Dan Berthiaume

With consumers poised to shift their holiday buying patterns, retailers need to be proactive, not reactive, in their response. According to recent Salesforce research, 51% of consumers plan to purchase fewer holiday gifts this year. Inflation, rising interest rates and supply chain shortages are all expected to create new concerns that go beyond the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Salesforce predicts retailers will face holiday shopping scenarios that have customers buying earlier than ever to avoid price hikes. The company also predicts that physical stores will be the biggest driver of growth. Here are a few examples of real-life retailer technology and supply chain projects that can help companies overcome these seasonal challenges and capture a greater share of shrinking customer spend. Early Shoppers Target is launching a major program to right-size its inventory for the remainder of 2022 and greatly expand its distribution infrastructure, which should have the added benefit of helping meet the stock needs of early holiday shoppers. Following a generally disappointing first quarter of fiscal 2022 that included challenges such as inventory that arrived too early or too late and freight and transportation costs that came in much higher than expected, the discounter is setting additional markdowns, removing excess inventory, and canceling orders. The action plan includes the addition of incremental holding capacity near U.S. ports, in what Target says is an attempt to add flexibility and speed in the portions of the supply chain most affected by external volatility. The retailer also intends to take pricing actions to address the impact of what it calls “unusually high” transportation and fuel costs and is working with 34

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suppliers to shorten distances and lead times in the supply chain. Meanwhile, SPA Global Licensing Inc., the company that manages the global brand U.S. Polo Assn., is marketing colors from its year-round colorways as substitutes for supply chain impacted colors belonging to a shorter season, such as its resort collection. This will help ensure that whenever a consumer chooses to begin their holiday shopping, U.S. Polo Assn. will serve them products that are currently available. “Similarly, its U.S. Polo Assn. e-commerce sites have reshuffled category page availability so that in-stock colorways always load first, and colors for which we are anticipating supply chain replenishment issues load last,” Jose Nino, VP of global digital strategy & e-commerce at USPA Global Licensing Inc., told Chain Store Age. “This decreased strain in our back office improves warehouse operations, ensuring smooth delivery within promised timeframes.” Blending Brick-and-Mortar Stores, Digital Channels Leading specialty arts and crafts retailer Joann is seamlessly connecting mobile

shoppers to the in-store experience — in real time. Joann has implemented the Radar geofencing platform, so that when a customer engages with the app, the solution checks their location to see if they are in a Joann store geofence. If the app user is inside a Joann geofence, a free shipping coupon is displayed, encouraging the customer to place an online order if the item they are searching for isn’t available in the store. This will help incentivize busy holiday shoppers to place their order through the Joann app instead of leaving the store to look for the item at a competitor, saving customers valuable shopping time while also saving Joann critical holiday sales. And what could be more of a traditional holiday shopping activity than visiting a local mall? Shopping center operator Simon and Westland Mall, Hialeah, Fla., are both ensuring holiday shoppers can easily find what they need at their tenants’ stores with omnichannel search functionality. Simon is rolling out Simon Search, a platform designed to give shoppers the ability to research in-stock products available at participating retailers through the Simon app, property websites, and interactive directories located at Simon properties nationwide. Westland Mall offers a digital platform called “Shop Now” that enables its customers to search participating retailers in the mall for products. Shoppers can use the tool to pre-plan their in-person visit, as well as add products to a wish list, which acts like a shopping list. Leveraging the Shop Now platform, customers can search for any product they are looking for from the center’s participating retailers – “red shoes” for example – and the site will display all the red shoes available from the directory of applicable Westland Mall retailers. JULY/AUGUST 2022


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7/28/22 7:59 PM

Realize Anything

What good is line of sight if you have no insight? Insight incites change and change at the right time is foresight. We’re experts in that—experts in seeing what’s coming in retail and offering data and insights for the path ahead. Examine everything, so you can realize anything.


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