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Lovesac in Chicago, IL with Clary Groen

Episode #: 086
Lovesac in Chicago, IL with Clary Groen

Guest: Clary Groen
Topics: Lovesac, e-commerce


Chris Ressa 0:01
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management.

Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I’m joined by Clary growing Clary is the vice president of real estate of Lovesac a really exciting brand. He’s been in the retail real estate industry for 20 plus years. So excited to have him on the show. Welcome Clary.

Hey, thanks, Chris. Appreciate you having me.

Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you’re up to these days?

Clary Groen 0:42
Well, like you said, I’m Vice President real estate at Lovesac. I’ve been in the retail real estate world for for 20 plus years, I cut my teeth early on as a financial analyst out of out of undergraduate school at Payless shoe source and worked a lot with the real estate team at that time in that role and, and really gravitated toward the work that they do and enjoyed partnering on special projects and things in my in my finance role and transitioned into real estate, three years or so later. And and you know, been been at the game ever since. So I’ve had successfully progressive roles with companies like Chico’s, and was the first head of real estate at Francesca’s and started there in 2008, we had a great run where we, we opened 500 or so stores while I was went public in 2012. And then I left and went to Blue mercury, which the cosmetics and skincare retailer and was the first head of real estate there and kind of set up the department processes and, and that was a lot of fun. And then for four years, I was in consulting, have my own. My own company worked with a variety of retailers, which I really enjoyed. And then one of my clients during that period was Lovesac. And I was doing a lot of strategic work for them. And, and a lot of thinking about the future and how they wanted to expand their brand. And after a few months and working with them. They said, you know, have you ever thought about coming back on the retailer side and leaving your consulting business? And I said, Yeah, for you know, I think for the right company, and, you know, working with the right people? And I’d be I’d be really interested. And I said well, you know, we’re thinking about us, because like we Mercury before that franchise, or that they had no internal real estate department and wanted someone to come in and and and set that up and in bringing in house versus outsourcing it to third party. So it was it was a very unique opportunity, because we basically had had a year long interview process, right, where I was doing consulting work for them. So I got to know them inside and out pretty well. They got to know me inside that pretty well. And, you know, we felt like it was a it was a great fit. And so I started there in September of 2019. And so, you know, 15 months or so in and it’s been a, you know, it’s been a great ride COVID obviously, is, is, you know magnified certain problems and situations, much more so than would have happened otherwise. But you know, I’m thrilled to be part of the company and really blessed that they wanted me to come on board.

Ressa 3:47
Well, that’s great. Now that you’re there, the back end of 2020 and the early end of 2021. We’re in a new world, things are a little different. But Lovesac has been, you know, doing pretty well. You guys have made some splashes in the news lately. And the stock has taken off since the beginning of the year. What’s going on at Lovesac? What are you guys doing? And what do you think is the secret to the success right now?

Groen 4:18
Yeah, you know, that’s a great question. Chris. I think when the when the pandemic hit.

I think for me, and I think for a lot of friends of mine and colleagues in the business. It was maybe akin to other momentous occasions in life where we know where we were when. Right and I remember where I was when it seems like the COVID crescendo really hit the second week of March. And boy was it was

it Yeah, I remember like it was yesterday. And and as a as a company we we recognized I think pretty quickly that this was a, you know, a very serious situation, I think early on in January and February, we thought that, you know, we started to see some supply chain issues out of out of China where we source you know, 30 to 40% of our product. And we’re monitoring that situation very closely. And of course, it it, you know, blew up into what it what it had become, and what it still is, unfortunately, today. But, you know, over the successive number of months from March on, you know, we started to find out pretty quickly, when, when our stores were mandated to close, that almost all of the business from our showrooms, as we call them, had transferred to to online. So many retailers were seeing significant increases in their online business over that period of time, in the summer of 2020. You know, it’s not uncommon to read about apparel brands that were up 50 to 70 80%. But our E commerce, but business was up, you know, much, much higher than that I was able to overcome the revenue shortfall from the clothes stores. So our our theory behind the success during that time period, and really, which has continued on to today is that there’s so many people that are at home, and they’re working from home. And as they look around their, their their houses, their places of residence, they’re there, they’re looking for things that they can change or improve upon whether it’s the paint color of a room or adding a you know, a couch, which benefits us in our case for that fence project they hadn’t gotten to so it was home improvement players in home furnishings. Retailers, like us have have definitely benefited from this, this pandemic.

Ressa 7:03
It’s a great point, you know, Donna, maybe we should back up for a second. For those who don’t know, who is Lovesac

Groen 7:10
is a home furnishings and home accessories retailer. We went public in 2000. And, and in 19. We have just over 110 showrooms across the country. And as I mentioned, you know, pretty explosive e commerce businesses Well, early on when the company was founded 25 years ago, it was really based on one product, which were foam filled beanbags, essentially. And so many consumers still recognize the brand from those early days. But we’ve morphed and developed into a much more dynamic retail concept over the last five or six years, which really has been fueled by our sectional couch, which is a modular couch that can be manipulated and changed into different configurations. We also have a design for life philosophy, which is that you can purchase a couch from us and it will be the only couch you ever really need. Because it can be manipulated and it can grow with you, whether you’re an apartment moving to a house or from a house down to an apartment, you can add pieces to it, you can change the fabric out over time. It’s washable, it’s durable. And it’s also environmentally sensitive, because the fabric that we have over the couch frame is made from recycled plastic bottles. And so we have a, you know, an environmental belief that that buying a couch with us will prevent the discarding of couches that go into landfills and in the like over time as well. So it’s like I said, one capsule you can buy and it’s it’s completely adaptable. So I think people today who are more environmentally conscious, really liked that about our brand. And you know, it’s definitely showing in the in the sales results.

Ressa 9:29
You know, it’s an interesting story because you go from a brand with one product. And as you’re growing you realize you guys are good at that but can’t just be one product and now you’ve morphed into a whole home furnishings, home accessory and that has really exploded enabled you to all go public and you know, continued growth. And how big are these showrooms?

Groen 9:55
So the showrooms are small Chris, I mean, they’re 1500 square feet or so. Oh, and they’re really just that, I mean, if you want to come in and walk out with a, you know, a sectional, same day, it’s just not going to happen. So, you come in and you meet with a with a showroom manager, and they show you the modular functionality of the sectional, the different fabric swatches you can have. And they talk through the this environmentally conscious approach that we have to commerce in capitalism, and, and then once that order gets placed, then the product gets shipped you FedEx within, you know, a couple of weeks. So it’s because of the model, the pandemic actually helped fuel this interest in our brand, because for the most part, it’s touchless. And, you know, the product would be delivered to be delivered right to your front door. So we look at these showrooms as touch points for the consumer. And we’ve explored other touch point options in the last year to to reach more and more consumers, such as testing shopping shops, with a handful of Macy’s locations across the country, testing shop and shops with Best Buy. Across the country, doing road shows with Costco where we would set up in Costco was, you know, dozens of Costco rows at a time throughout the country for 30 days. And then generate revenue and and also, more importantly, brand awareness with consumers. And then after that, 30 days is over, the shopping shop gets packed up and then transported to another Costco. So through all these different touchpoints, we’ve been able to really work toward increasing, you know, brand awareness aided and unaided brand awareness across the United States, which is, which has helped us, you know, achieve the success that we have so far,

Ressa 12:11
that’s really smart blade and grow brand awareness. The you mentioned, you know, getting into to grow brand awareness, who is the core consumer, or Lovesac? Who was your primary customer?

Groen 12:27
Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a diverse customer base, you know, we do a tremendous amount of research on really understanding who the consumer is. And our business development group does a phenomenal job working with third party vendors to not just identify who these customers are, but but how their shopping patterns change on a week to week basis. But kind of in a nutshell, the customer is, you know, more fluent, they’re more affluent from a from an average household income perspective, so greater than $100,000. They’re aspirational, generally professional. And, you know, the age ranges, you know, as low as 25, to 30 range up. And the great thing about our product is that, again, you can buy a couple of seats and sides and just have a small loveseat to start if you’re in a small apartment in the city. But then as you you know, meet a significant other your family grows, you move to the suburbs, and you buy a larger house, you can add pieces to it by additional fabric. And then the next thing in reconfigure it to meet the different needs you have for various rooms in your house. So it’s product that can grow with the customer over a long period of time. And like we said, we hope is the only count you’ll ever bought. Fantastic.

Ressa 14:03
You all have been growing a lot in enclosed malls over the years and some would call urban high street real estate as your real estate decisions started to Morfitt all given the pandemic and the move to e commerce and some of the growth in the open air shopping with as consumers might not want to be in enclosed spaces.

Groen 14:31
is it’s a good question. You know, when I started the the consulting work for for Lovesac a couple, two, two and a half years ago, and I recognized at that at the time, I think the company may be at 75 locations they were exclusively in enclosed malls. And, you know, from my background with with Chico’s and Francesca is you know, my philosophy was you know has been is instilled Little is and was dirt during these conversations with Lovesac, during my consulting period was that we really needed to diversify that that real estate type that base. Because some customers shop malls, some customers shop Street location, some customers shop lifestyle centers, it’s just you know, it’s all across the board. So I emphasize at the time, we need to start exploring other real estate types, and not get away from malls necessarily, but broaden the scope of opportunities that are out there. And with that, instead of limiting our growth potential to X number of stores, we could increase it to x plus y number of stores. And so when I, when I was hired in September of 19, we started to embark for the 2020. year with the deals that we were focusing on, we’re focused on, on on on doing just that, which was looking at high street locations and lifestyle centers. And so despite the pandemic, this past year, we ended up opening 18 locations grats, we just fell shy of the pre pandemic target of 20, that we had told analysts and investors. But we had many, many more locations that were lined up that were a real estate committee approved, that we just didn’t get the leases signed, prior to the pandemic hitting. So for those 18 deals that we had leases signed, we move forward, we opened them successfully. And then with the other ones that we had in the pipeline, and we’re real estate committee approved, the lease is not signed, we’re able to push those and frontload our openings for for this current year 2021. But in 2020, pre pandemic, we’d already set in motion approvals for deals that were in, you know, better lifestyle centers across the country. And then better high street locations like the Upper East Side, Manhattan, Fulton market in Chicago, 14th Street in Washington, DC, and had the wheels in motion for a number of other locations and 2021 that were Lifestyle Center and High Street, other high street locations will open in 2021 include Montana Avenue and Santa Monica, California, and Boylston Street in Boston and others. So in a lot of great dynamic lifestyle centers as well. So we were, I think ahead of any potential hypotheses that people may have about consumer shopping and maybe getting away from enclosed malls. We’re certainly certainly not abandoning banning them. But we feel like there’s more opportunity for us to expand as a brand in nominal locations going forward and probably in close malls.

Ressa 18:08
Do you? Do you think that you will land in some of the if the market demographics are right? In some non lifestyle locations that are outside of malls, you know, say some dynamic power center that has a great lineup?

Groen 18:26
Yeah, we do. As a matter of fact, we’ve talked about it quite a bit. We don’t have any, let’s say pad sides in front of power centers, or in super regional trade areas, like where maybe there is a mall, but there’s strip lives, strip retail in front with high traffic, high visibility, but we think there is, you know, there untapped trade areas out there for us to explore that fit just that criteria. And we’re starting to look at those very closely. And our plan is to test a couple of those hopefully in 2021.

Ressa 19:07
And you’re, you’re experienced in it, you were a PE last year at Chico’s. Who’s done those types of locations as well.

Groen 19:14
Yeah, and you know, there, there’s definitely a place I think, for us to explore that. You know, I’ve got a good friend, it’s a head of real estate and Sleep Number. And they have migrated outside of malls over the last several years to a lot of freestanding locations, pad sites, you know, Jr, center type type deals, and I’ve learned quite a bit from them as to the financial implications of doing that from a revenue and profitability standpoint, but also from a, you know, a proximity to the consumer. You’re taking that location outside of an enclosed environment, you’re moving it to a location that is maybe closer proximity to where they’re walking Seeing or driving, and in increasing that brand awareness, you know, as a result, their results speak for themselves. And I think we can learn a lot from that. And, you know, it’s a departure from what we’ve done in the past. So it takes a little bit of, you know, I think intestinal fortitude people to see that opportunity in the same way. But I think we’re there. And I look forward to testing a few of those to see how they perform. And, you know, if they work as well, as I think they will, then that’s just going to add even more, you know, showroom opportunities for us to expand into across the United States.

Ressa 20:42
Yeah, I can even I can even see you all in some center next to like a, you know, even a Whole Foods or some great grocer like that, you know, in a Wegmans anchored center, something like that, or the shop rates in the Northeast that are in locations in those markets and whatnot. And I think you guys would, you know, share some customers there and benefit from the regular foot traffic. So I don’t know if you agree with that or not, I

Groen 21:12
agree with you, 100%. And like I said, there are a lot of untapped trade areas across the country. And that’s the way we look at, you know, we look at our showrooms and the shop and shop opportunities and the things we’ve done with Costco as touchpoints, it’s a, it’s a, it’s an opportunity for the consumer, to see us learn about the brand, they get very inquisitive, when they see the video loops that we have in our stores, or they see this product, it’s kind of broken out, in display, at least in our showroom storefronts, because they’re like, you know, what is this, we’ve never seen anything like that before. And that’s the hook. And when we get them in the stores, and they meet our dynamic store associates, and they start explaining this modular furniture and how it works and how it’s so adaptable. You know, it leads to increased conversion rates. And, and, you know, just touch on something else that we we, you know, alluded to before, during the pandemic, when we started to reopen our showrooms, we were appointment only for for a long period of time, right up and say to our customer, as well as for health, health and safety of our associates. And what we have seen is pretty interesting and phenomenal, which is, you know, furniture is a high ticket purchase. And so customers, particularly during the pandemic, because they’re, they’re at home, doing a lot more research online. And so they’re learning about us, they’re learning about restoration, hardware, crate, barrel, whoever, to do a lot of diligence online, versus maybe going into the stores, you know, one to the other to the other. And so, they educated themselves, they got very knowledgeable about the different options out there. And when they sought us out, at least during the pandemic, to make that appointment, they were already pretty well versed about who you are and what we do and what our product offering is. So then when he came in the store, and they were able to interface with a with a with a with an associate, our conversion rate was extremely high because of that. So even though traffic was down during that, that time period, and still is damn least, you know, primarily in enclosed malls, were able to offset it to a large degree with much higher conversion rates.

Ressa 23:47
That’s great. That’s good news. That’s phenomenal. Yeah. Did did the Best Buy and cascode. Did you share some customers there? And did that work for you all?

Groen 23:58
Yeah, you know, Costco has been an ongoing relationship for the last three years or so. And there’s a lot of bodies that go through.

Ressa 24:07
Yeah, there’s, yeah,

Groen 24:10
you know, with the company that you have, and you’re with probably a lot more about the average volumes of Costco is sure, you know, 10s of millions of dollars on average these things generate. And so a lot of bodies coming in, in generally, they’re placed in more of a fluid trade areas for the most part. So we did see quite a bit of overlap with our customer, and the Costco customer. And that’s why that relationship has been so successful. You know, Best Buy’s a little bit different because we’ve tested three of them. We’ve got a fourth one opening up in the American dream project where Best Buy’s is opening but hasn’t yet. And these were done as a test to see how the, you know, the younger or more tech savvy consumer, you know, feels about purchasing furniture in, in a, in an electronic store like that. So, early results, again in pandemic impacted but we started over a year just over a year ago with them with the three and Pandemic aside been really successful. And so, you know, we’re looking toward, you know, future opportunities with them now that the dust is starting to settle with at least 2020 is over with doesn’t settle with the pandemic yet, but we, you know, people are starting to adapt and figure out ways to, to live their lives and operate their businesses. And you know, we think there’s, there’s more opportunity with them in the future. So

Ressa 25:54
that’s great. The and one last thing, before we move on, can I get Lovesac at other retailers or other than the shop and shops? Or is it I have to go to Lovesac.

Groen 26:06
So we’re on We’re also on And as part of those partnerships, we also launched a pilot with Wayfair, three or four months ago. So there are those three online type retailers that offer our product. But I would say the best the best place to buy our our product is in showrooms where you can interact with, you know, with a store associated with a showroom associate or from our website directly.

Ressa 26:38
Yeah, you all were direct to consumer before direct to consumer got this buzz and was hot word.

Groen 26:43
Yeah, I mean, honestly, you know, we have been a a benefactor. Fortunately, of the events that have taken place over the last few months. And, you know, we hope it continues, we continue to we have a dynamic Product Development Group. And our goal is that every year or so we are introducing some other product that can be part of our assortment. And in the last year or so we introduced a technology hub which can be inserted into the side of one of our sectionals where you can plug in your USB cables and,

Ressa 27:32
and that’s really cool.

Groen 27:35
And, you know, we’ve got other very intriguing and interesting things that are planned. For the first quarter of this year we had unfortunately or delayed from the third quarter of last year, we’re going to do another major product release. But first quarter this year, I would definitely encourage the watchers to be on the lookout for another dynamic product release that’s going to catapult us into just another level of of you know of retail and, and revenue performance.

Ressa 28:11
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Well, listen, that was great. I want to take us to the next part of the show which people love which is the story and hoping you have a good story about a deal that you had been a part of and tell us where we’re going which which were location are we

Groen 30:00
Yeah, I mean, I think I was thinking about this yesterday, I think I’ve probably done 13 or 1400, you know, retail deals. And so been around a long time. I’ve always loved the city of Chicago, my, my dad went to Northwestern. And so a lot of my grandparents lived there. So always had an affinity they had. So when I got hired at Lovesac, we set out a strategy for that market and identified several trade areas that were voids for us. And one of them was Naperville, which is a Western server, very fluent trade area. And there’s a downtown Main Street there of retail that has a lot of the who’s who have great tenants, Lululemon and apple, and she goes, White House, et cetera, and so on Pottery Barn, so a lot of great retail. And so we we work with a couple of really good brokers in Chicago. And they, they found a location on this main street called West Jefferson that was had the right front edge and the right bones for us. And so we started dialogue with the landlord about, you know, locating there. And he said, You know, I think you guys are more of a a showroom and you’re like a store. And there’s some pretty strict restrictions on on first level, retail yada enquire with the city about what what those are and and make sure that you’re in the clear to move forward and do a deal with us here. So the long story short is neighborville. Interestingly enough, banned first level or street level showrooms. And we they they identified us as a showroom, because it’s not really a cash and carry type of a business as we discussed. So what that meant was, we had to go through a variance process. The next in Fortunately, the landlord is very patient willing to to wait and work with us. So the next hearing was in a two and a half weeks. And we had to assemble a lot of information from the city, notifying neighboring tenants, etc. put a sign in the window. So we go through all this stuff. I fly to Chicago, I said before the city council, we were the last group on the agenda.

Ressa 32:35
Oh, so I’ve been in those meetings. So that could be you. It could be two hours, you were sitting there.

Groen 32:40
And I’m hearing about all kinds of the rock quarry and CB, the marijuana retailer that they’re debating, I mean, it was. So of course with my luck, we’re we end up going last. And it was all about this band that they had on first first lab and they had they had prevented other concepts from going in there like shade store, and California closets and unsuccessful in the past. So a little bit of an uphill battle. But fortunately, it was great interaction with the city council and they, you know, unanimously approved us and I think a lot of is because our stores generate a lot of volume. I think they were seeing some tax down dollars there that would benefit them. And so we got it approved. And then the pandemic hits, you know, couple months later. So that’s that’s the owner of this building was unbelievably patient, you know, we didn’t know what the future was gonna hold for new showrooms during that March April time period, we’re able to come back to him and and tell him like we did with all the deals that we had teed up that were approved, but hadn’t no leases signed that we we did in fact want to move forward and honor the deals that we had negotiated, move to lease, we went to lease, and they’re in Naperville got our permit, and you know, knock on wood, we’re under construction, we’re going to open the end of February. And, you know, it’s just one interesting story as we, you know, how how location, you’re so good at this that I watched a lot of these other pockets. How did that store get there? Right? We all have these just, you know, I think great recollections of these odd deals and this and that, but that’s a recent one. And you know, hopefully I’ll get invited on sometime in the future. And I could rip off dozens more than I think the listeners would find pretty interesting.

Ressa 34:46
So I won a market. A lot of people know Naperville and it’s a great market. And I had no I know the market. Well, I had no idea that they had this first floor level showroom ban, which I’ve heard of a lot, that’s not one I’ve heard of, you know, a lot of we deal with Drive Thru moratoriums and things like this. But I had not heard of a suburb having this. And that is totally fascinating. What what you mentioned the revenue tax dollars, what got them over the hump? You think?

Groen 35:24
You know, I think it was. Obviously, it’s

Ressa 35:27
always timing right?

Groen 35:29
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s a great question is like what? You know, I was jaded in thinking that this would be fairly easy, there’s always an element of doubt. But I think we’re, we’re very well prepared to tell them about the company, the story, we showed photos of what the storefronts look like other similar village street locations, or high street, however you want to define them. And so they were very impressed with the level of craftsmanship and detail that our design team has with respect to the layout in the presentation the store to the consumer. So I think that was probably the biggest, you know, the biggest benefit that we that we had the biggest one of the biggest selling points. And, you know, the other as the nugget that I dropped in the conversation was that, unlike other use uses that may fill a space like that, whether it’s apparel, or you know, a restaurant, our average sales are, you know, extremely high on a per square foot basis, and the the ancillary benefit to them for approving our use, not just to service the customers in the trade area, and the number of jobs will create is that you’re going to get, you know, tax revenue that’s going to be greater than other uses that, you know, the landlord would consider putting in there. And, you know, that made it a pretty open and shut case, honestly.

Ressa 37:08
Got it. What is the average per square foot across the, the fleet? On the sales?

Groen 37:14
Yeah, it’s greater than $2,000 a foot. So wow, on the selling on the cell at the sales floor area. So, which is all public information? Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s unbelievable to me, and what we’ve seen over the last couple of years and 2019, our comp store sales were 34%. You know, we’re down because we were closed for, you know, two or three months in, in, in 2020. But again, we’ve we’ve shown post pandemic, we’re able to reopen third quarter, you know, again, we resume this 30 plus percent comp store growth, even despite traffic being down, etc. So we’re really a brand that’s that’s clicking on all cylinders, and happy to be along for the ride.

Ressa 38:08
One or two more things on this top, because there’s a fascinating story and you that you’ve told here, at some point, did you say you know what, I need to be in Naperville. But you know what, maybe I’m moving off to the street. I don’t want to go through with this. Or did you say to yourself, you know what, I’m gonna plow through this because we want to be here. You know, that’s

Groen 38:27
a great way because there’s a

Ressa 38:28
lot of retail in Naperville. There’s a lot of good retail in Naperville, not just there.

Groen 38:32
Yeah. I mean, if we chose to go somewhere else besides downtown, we wouldn’t have that. That issue, right. But that’s where our customer shops. That’s where the better retail is located. And through my experience, and I did a Francesca’s deal there, you know, several years ago, and when it opened up in the right location on that street, it did phenomenal volume, much greater than average. So, you know, as real estate professionals, we draw on experiences. And that helps form our decision making processes as we as we look at new opportunities. And in Naperville. I was 100% convicted that in at 100% conviction and was convinced that that being on West Jefferson was absolutely the right decision. And when we were told about this ban on first floor, or street level, you know, show rooms and the fact that the landlord was an already been kind of patient as we started negotiating the letter of intent. And now we have to face a, you know, a variance process. And the next meeting was in two weeks. I’m like, you know, we can’t wait another month after that. We have to make that meeting in two weeks. And so fortunately, we got two great brokers there. You In Chicago with McCaffrey interests that were able to go to the city get all the information that we had to disseminate to the local, you know, tenants that were in close proximity. They put the sign in the window we got on the agenda, we call the city and ask them, you know, we do all these things. Can we make that make that city council a general agenda? And they said, Yes, they were, they’re great to work with. And so we we pulled it together in a very, very short period of time. And I think it earned a lot of credibility with not just the city, but the landlord were willing to do it. So anyway, long story short, yeah, we could have easily just asked, this is too much work. But that would have been a disservice to the company. And, and it, it, it would have, it would have led to, I think the absolutely the wrong decision there for where we should locate in that market and how we can put the, you know, put the best foot forward to the customer, and locate a store where we’re going to be the most successful.

Ressa 41:11
Fantastic story. Thank you for sharing that. That was a that was a great one. And what a unique scenario that happened recently. Yeah. All right, Clary. It’s been it’s, this has been great. I want to take you to the last part of the show called retail wisdom. Are you ready?

Groen 41:29
I’m ready. All right.

Ressa 41:32
And for the listeners out there, three new questions. Question one, what extinct retailer Do you wish would come back from the dead?

Groen 41:42
And there are a lot of them. I mean, a lot of good businesses that I you know, frequented in the past. You know, I will tell you that my time at Payless when I when I first came out of undergraduate school and was in finance and I actually got my MBA when I would they paid for my MBA. So a lot of great people that work there and I learned so much in they served a great niche, I think with, you know, with with the consumer, and it’s sad that brands gone. And so I think for a lot of people out there, they had 4500 stores at their peak in the United States. And, and there’s a lot of brand loyalty there with that consumer and they served a niche for people that couldn’t afford expensive footwear. So on the spot, if I had to pick one, I’d say, you know, I really wish Payless shoe source would come back.

Ressa 42:39
Awesome, great answer that might be you might be the first one to say pay less. So I’m excited. You know, I’m excited. You did?

Groen 42:46
Probably so but you know, they were really good to me as a young, you know, professional and, but more importantly, they they really did service you know, serve a a need for consumers and affordable, affordable quality footwear. And I totally agree. There are other places to get, you know, inexpensive footwear today. But you know, I wish those guys could come back.

Ressa 43:15
Yeah, the two most popular just so you know, most popular answers. It’s very consistent are Toys R Us and blockbuster. Those are the two that people say all the time. So that’s I’m very happy. You said I’ve got

Groen 43:27
a great great memories of toys r us as a kid I remember. You know making good grades in school and my my parents would give my brother and I the last day of school we get 100 bucks, we get to go to Toys R Us and buy anything you want. You know we want and Antonia 25 years ago 100 bucks was just like, you know, amazing. So Toys R Us is a great answer to.

Ressa 43:50
So that brings me to the next question. Which is new question. What’s the last thing you purchased in his store over $20

Groen 44:00
So my wife’s birthday was yesterday. And with Christmas New Year’s a completely a blur. I didn’t forget about her birthday. But I also wasn’t as prepared to purchase something in advance for a birthday. So I went to the Galleria Mall on Tuesday and went to a high end luxury store bought her a nice gift and it was definitely over 20 bucks.

Ressa 44:25
Got it. Okay.

Groen 44:27
And she liked him a lot. So

Ressa 44:28
all that matters. And so then that

Groen 44:31
idea when I bought it the day before the whole thing, whatever but it was it was kind of on she’d mentioned that she wanted it and they fortunately had one left. And I don’t think I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on a gift before. But she really liked it and that’s what matters. I’m glad that she was happy.

Ressa 44:53
All right, here we go. Last question. If we lost you in target what I Oh would we find you in

Groen 45:02
you know, that’s a great one and I thought about it a lot. I think my first response is going to be probably probably sporting goods Okay. I’d be looking at golf club golf balls or something of the sort I think the second place maybe a close second would be electronics so looking at flat screen TVs and how much they cost and you know how heavy that flat screen is and my bedroom and lighter these are and wider and brighter. So I’d probably be daydreaming about you know that next electronics purchase to

Ressa 45:39
Awesome. Well, listen, Claire, this was great. Thank you so much. I wish you nothing but continued success man, this is a great overall story. And love watching guys and rooting for you

Groen 45:53
know, I appreciate it. I love what you’re doing. I think you provide a great service to the retail real estate community. I find these podcasts just so engaging and fascinating and many people that you have on I know I’m good friends with. It’s interesting to hear them tell their stories and answer these questions. You similar questions and like i said i My hat’s off to you for for what you do and the service you provide and I’m flattered that you invited me to be on.

Ressa 46:26
Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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