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(Real Talk Series 1) Steve Dennis

Episode #: 011
(Real Talk Series 1) Steve Dennis

Guest: Steve Dennis
Topics: Sears, retail real estate strategy


Chris Ressa 0:02
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.

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Welcome to the show everyone. Today, we have with us Steve Danis. Steve is the president and founder of Sainsbury consulting. He is a Forbes contributor and is releasing a book on April 14, remarkable retail. It is currently available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Welcome to the show, Steve.

Steve Dennis 4:52
Thanks for having me, Chris.

Ressa 4:53
Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about your background and your company? Sage. Very cool thing.

Dennis 4:59
Sure. So Oh, I guess I have a pretty, pretty varied background, though. Pretty much the last close to 30 years has been exclusively in retail. I started working in strategy for a big consulting firm and worked in the food business for a few years. But in the early 90s, I joined Sears and was there for about 12 years in a bunch of different roles. On the operating side marketing side of strategy side, headed up the early multi channel integration initiatives and was the acting Chief Strategy Officer, fortunately, got out of there before the end Lambert days. And then I joined the Neiman Marcus group as the head of strategy, and also had responsibility for multi channel marketing, customer insight, private label, credit card business, and a bunch of other growth initiatives. And then, the last 10 years or so, I’ve been out on my own

Jackson 0:58
What’s going on everybody? Sean Jackson here director of marketing and DLC joined by Chris ReSSA, host of retail retail this car is doing well. How are you? Thanks for having me on your podcast. I just totally hijacked your podcast. But I wanted to sit down it’s been

Ressa 1:13
a long time coming. Everyone does notice Sean’s been behind the scenes. And, you know getting this podcast up and running and launched. So thank you.

Jackson 1:21
I can’t take all the credit. Of course the fabulous marketing team here at DLC, they do an amazing job getting this thing up. But 10 episodes in SPIN didn’t quite a journey of trying to figure things out as we go and getting these new guests. How do you think it’s been going so far? I learned

Ressa 1:38
something new on every episode. So it’s been fantastic. And this week’s episode, as you know, every Thursday we launch so we have a new guest every Thursday, and it’s an interview format. This week, it’ll be our 11th week we have a special guest on Tuesday, we’re still launching on Thursday, we have a special guest on Tuesday, we have Steve Dennis just wrote the book remarkable retail. And that books launching soon that’s available for preorder on Barnes and Noble and And I’m excited because he gives his unique perspective as he was one of the executives at Sears in the 90s in the strategy department. So he was focused on retail strategy for Sears. And he gives some insights as to what they could have done differently. And he takes those lessons he worked at Neiman Marcus and strategy at Neiman Marcus. So we had the high end department stores at the, you know, the middle of the road department store. He’s had a unique experience. And now he works with retailers all over the world with their retail strategy. He comes from that background, not necessarily the real estate background, I think he gives an interesting perspective on the state of the industry, what’s going on. And he highlights a bunch of teasers for us from the book. And I think it’ll be really cool for our listeners

Jackson 2:54
without giving it away. He was one key takeaway that kind of blew your mind a little bit.

Ressa 3:00
I think one of the key takeaways, it’s specific to him, it was specific to that conversation. But just in general, the myth that it’s cheaper to be a digitally native only concept than it is brick and mortar. And it’s proving out that there are very few e commerce only retailers that are profitable. And you know, there’s truly he calls it harmonious retail. And so I think you know, and he writes about that as book and he gives some stats around that, you know, I won’t give away too much. But he gives an interesting perspective on what Sears could have done to not be in the position they’re in today. And I think it would have been a fascinating thing if they did that. And he said it was really around a war room in a boardroom where they were like, discuss it if they should go this direction, and they didn’t. And we’ll never know what would have happened. But I think it was really interesting.

Speaker 4 4:02
This is a different episode than we’re used to. It’s a little outside the box. So I think people are going to enjoy this one. I can’t wait to listen to it. Yeah, so it’s gonna be pretty cool. Alright guys, stay tuned, amazing episode. Hey, man, pat me on this podcast. Thanks, guys.

Dennis 6:03
initially, pretty much do exclusively doing independent strategy and innovation consulting work for retailers, primarily. And that’s evolved over the last few years, I’m still doing that. But for the last three years in particular, I’ve been doing a lot of keynote, speaking and strategy workshops, and started writing for Forbes. And as you mentioned, I’ve been working on this book. So now I really split time between working directly with clients and doing more, you know, broader thought leadership and speaking,

Ressa 6:42
and what were you doing consulting for these retail businesses?

Dennis 6:47
Well, I work pretty much exclusively on growth, strat growth and innovation strategy. So typically working with the C level team on strategic planning, or how to accelerate or reignite their growth. And I’ve worked across a pretty wide spectrum, some very large retailers, technology firms, real estate firms that serve the retail industry. And I’ve also worked with a fair number of early stage companies, I’m on several advisory boards, and I advise the venture capital fund. So been doing pretty, pretty wide range of different product categories and, and sort of size and scale of retail companies.

Ressa 7:32
Any retailers that you could share with us that you have worked with in the past, or currently working with

Dennis 7:36
sure worked. Nike has been a client, Google’s been a client, Tracker Supply Company, American Express, Visa, and a few others I can’t talk about, and then some smaller technology, or smaller entrepreneurial companies like cola, which is a social impact jewelry brand, crave retail,

Ressa 7:57
those are some remarkable brands to be associated with and had the opportunity to work with. Really cool, what got you motivated to write this book? And why is now the time that you are releasing it? So um,

Dennis 8:15
well, I’ve been wanting to write a book for quite a long time. And I think the question was, what was it going to be about and then really sitting down and doing it. But I started, when I started my consulting business, I started writing a blog, I’ve written something like eight or 900 posts on that blog. And there were a number of themes that I started to explore and I kept coming back to, and then I took those many of those ideas when I started doing, speaking, and, you know, it really developed over the last, you know, I’d say two or three years, was kind of an overall perspective on how I went to what was going on in retail, what was really important to focus on, in some cases, dispelling some myths or common narratives, and really trying to give guidance to either audiences that are hearing me speak or consulting clients about what they really need to focus on, but also a framework to help guide them to making those transformational changes. And so it kind of developed as I was working with clients and doing these speaking engagements, I started to really develop a narrative and a framework that I thought was helpful. So I decided, you know, maybe a good way to reach more people and go into some more depth was to write a book. So that’s what I’ve done.

Ressa 9:44
Thank you for giving us that perspective. Remarkable retail, really interesting title, strong word remarkable. What is the genesis of that and that being the premise of this book?

Dennis 9:57
So there’s kind of a couple pieces the I’m literally the term remarkable. I’ve borrowed from my good friend Seth Godin. Some of your listeners may be familiar with, with his work in general, but in particular, a book he wrote a number of years ago called Purple Cow. So you know, literally by remarkable in the way Seth uses it, the way I use it in my talk, and in the book is, is this idea that you’re doing something so powerful and different and relevant, that people customers want to talk about it. And the reason why I applied that to my talks, and specifically in the book is, what I started to notice probably close to a decade ago, was what I’ve referred to over the last few years is the collapse of the middle in retail. And what I mean by that is that, if you look across what’s happened to the industry, you see quite a lot of success at one end of the spectrum, the those retailers that are much more focused on value, convenience assortment, and so forth. You know, so whether that’s Amazon, or Walmart, or our price retailers, you know, all the cetera, et cetera. Um, at the other end of the spectrum, more on the high end, more experiential, more specialty retail, you also see a lot of growth. But the real trouble for the most part, is in what I call kind of this undifferentiated and boring middle. And so even when people want to things I talk about in the book, and I’ve written about pretty extensively is, when you talk about a retail apocalypse, it’s really not very accurate, except it’s quite apocalyptic. If you’re one of these retailers, that is stuck in the middle,

Ressa 11:49
define the middle for Steve.

Dennis 11:51
So the middle would be, you know, any place where you’re really not, you know, you haven’t picked the lane between whether you’re really going after value, convenience, you know, sort of functional retail, or the other end of the spectrum, more premium or experiential. So, you know, retailers like caught in the middle, I would say, or, you know, Kohl’s, JC Penney, you know, many others, some of some of which are going out of business that don’t have the best price. They don’t have a really convenient shopping experience. But they also, on the other hand, don’t have anything particularly special remarkable about their service, or their product offering, or other aspects of the experience. And what I talked about in the book is, you know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, you could get away with being fairly average, in a lot of cases, because the customer did not have access to product like they do today. They don’t have access to information about pricing and product quality. There’s a lot of friction previously in the system in terms of buying things. And so customers had to settle a lot of times for, you know, fairly average stuff. But since the, you know, pretty much because since the advent of all things digital, there’s really no places to hide, if you’re if you’re mediocre, it’s just too easy for customers to find superior choices, whether that’s on the value side, or whether they’re willing to pay more for something different, unique, and special. And so I think the data, data is really more, this is what’s happening.

Ressa 13:32
I couldn’t agree more. The one thing I would say is I don’t think it’s unique to retail, I think this disruption is happening in multiple industries. There was a time in place where you know, not too long ago, where you can find a market where there was a segment missing, find a location, put some product in the store, and you might not make record setting numbers, but you would be able to be profitable, whether you were a large scale chain or an entrepreneur. I think today that’s a lot more challenging to do. There’s most market segments, at least the ones we have today are covered and you need to differentiate. Right, exactly. One of the things I used to say and I would say five years ago and I would love your feedback on it is five years ago, I would have said in order to be successful, and I’m I’m less talking about the premium retailers but in order to be successful, I would say you need to either be have a value proposition and convenient or have an experience that draws the consumer to the store. And today, what I would say is you need all three you take a company like TJ Maxx shoes experiential, they provide a value proposition their stores are well located and they’re convenient to the consumer to take you know it’s the same for all the off price guys all the value guys and And, you know, like Dollar Tree, Burlington Ross. And I think that, you know, if you’re not that true value proposition and, you know, they have well located stores, if you want Uber convenience, you know, really next level convenience and you want the product in hours or the next day, I think the one thing about that is there’s a cost to that, and it cost you, there’s a segment of the market that doesn’t want to pay for that. Or there is a segment of the market that can’t afford that there’s certainly some retailers who are doing, you know, next day free shipping, and, you know, all that those fun gimmicks that are going on right now. But I think in general, today, still convenience, cost more and the experience and a lot of premium retailers didn’t experience like, you know, Restoration Hardware and others. But I think, you know, something that started with Todd with their cooking classes or Home Depot with their classes, I think you need to provide an experience of some sort to draw the consumer. So what would you say to that? And what would you say about experiential retail? You really didn’t touch on that? What would be your take on experiential retailing? And as much as I don’t like the word, I don’t know what your take is on the word. But, you know, what do you say about experiential retailing? Well, yeah,

Dennis 16:20
I mean, I think one of the issues within, you know, I kind of hate to get into these semantic games, but I think, you know, there isn’t a great working definition of experiential, I mean, to me retail, I mean, anything that evokes the senses, to me is experiential, which is, you know, life, life is experiential. So, I think, you know, what’s more useful to talk about? When we talk about, so in my framework, for remarkable retail, one of the components, is what I call creating a memorable experience. And I think a memorable experience is defined by a number of factors has to be intensely relevant to the customer, it has to be authentic. You know, ideally, it has to be something that is sustainable, or, you know, can be replicated at scale. And it has to make a real impact. And so I think a lot of times, you know, things get called experiential, that are kind of gimmicky.

Unknown Speaker 17:23
Or don’t,

Dennis 17:25
you know, like, you know, a lot of retailers are putting in coffee shops or something, you know, they say, Well, that’s an, you know, that’s experiential. You know, that’s food service, it’s not, you know, ended up itself, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. But I don’t think that in and of itself, creates a memorable or remarkable experience. So agreed. So I think we just need to, I mean, I agree that I think customers, if they’re gonna devote a lot of time or energy and make a special trip to someplace, there’s got to be something that’s really memorable. And that can play out in a lot of different ways, depending upon the category and what the customers are

Ressa 17:58
trying to do. That’s really interesting. I think the word memorable is scepters. Stronger, probably better word than experiential. And it doesn’t have to be something dramatic. One of the guests we had on our podcast talked about a local mom and pop retailer that has 1000s of customers. And one of the things that that owner of that mom and pop store was adamant about was remembering all the customers names, they got a lot of repeat customers, and he was adamant about that. When you walk into a store, and someone remembers your name that, you know, What’s everyone’s favorite, you know, word is their own name. So that’s really memorable. So it doesn’t have to be something dramatic, but and it can be as simple as something like that. So it’s a really good word to be memorable.

Dennis 18:49
Yeah, um, and I think I agree completely, I think one of the hard things and you know, and I hate to be one of these people that says, you know, it depends to every question, but, but I do think, you know, some of the some of the advice that’s given to retailers, I think, is often at such a high level, that, you know, there’s these kind of sweeping generalizations that aren’t particularly useful. What I’ve tried to do in the book is, I lay out eight essentials, of the remarkable framework, and I try to go through and describe what’s involved with each of the eight and why that may be important to a particular retailer, and give some specific examples. But the guidance that I give to my clients and I give them the book is, you really need to look at your particular situation. I think, you know, most of the eight, if not all of the eight will be relevant to most retailers, but the sort of things that will be most important. So for example, one of the eight is what I call harmonized retail a lot of people call omni channel and you know, I think the the need to Get away from these distinctions between channels and realize that, you know, ecommerce and physical retail have to work in concert, you know, that will be more or less important to certain kinds of retailers, depending upon their situation. So, you know, I don’t think there’s any kind of paint by numbers, prescription that’s going to work for everybody. But I think, you know, what I’ve tried to do in the book is point out those things that I have seen, be the most important for, for most retailers, in most cases, and, and give some direction on how to put some of those practices into place.

Ressa 20:37
So I’ve read a lot of your content on LinkedIn, I’ve read some of your Forbes articles, and I haven’t finished but I’ve read some of the books that you’ve recently sent me. Can you give us one or two of the myths that you point out in the book without giving it away, but something that might be a good teaser for everyone is something that they might be thinking about differently? Sure, I

Dennis 21:00
mean, I think I mentioned to one, I think is starting to be better understood. But you know, this idea of the retail apocalypse or that physical retail is, is going away. You know, I alluded to this a little bit earlier, but at least in the United States, physical retail continues to grow. Obviously, ecommerce is growing at a faster rate. But, and there is absolutely a significant correction going on, you know, some of that as a function of the overbuilding that’s gone on the last two decades, some of that’s a function of the collapse the middle, we talked about just weak retailers that, you know, irrespective of ecommerce weren’t going to make it, and then some of it is certainly related to the growth, growth of E commerce. But you know, there, there are plenty of physical retailers, mostly physical retailers that are growing and profitable. And, you know, the reality is, if you’ve got a very valid value proposition, there’s plenty of opportunities to grow. So I think this kind of idea that all hope is lost for physical retail is certainly not true. And of course, one of the most ironic things is that many of the stores that are being opened, are being opened on the part of these digitally native vertical brands that several years ago, their whole premise was they weren’t going to need any stores. And now they’ve actually discovered that stores are probably going to be the biggest source of growth going forward, you know, brands like Warby Parker and others. So So I think that’s a big one. I think the other is, is really some of the challenges in E commerce is kind of related to this. I mean, the flip side of physical retail not being dead is that ecommerce, as a distinct channel is not very profitable. And we’re starting to see a lot of growing pains, you know, return rates are very high online. They were getting into these big kind of delivery wars where you know, free delivery is become ubiquitous, and the delivery windows are getting shorter. And most of these venture capital digitally native vertical brands aren’t making money and don’t look to have much promise of making money. So I think I think there’s gonna be a pretty big shakeout, on the horizon on on a lot of these brands that have gotten a lot of press and caused a lot of disruption and pricing pressure, but won’t turn out to be quite the stars that I think certainly the investors hoped they would have been a few years ago,

Ressa 23:48
while you hit on a topic that I think is one of the most misunderstood topics in retail, which is that online, only retailing is really challenging from an economic perspective, and it’s hard to be profitable from that. And I think only now in the media over the last six months, is it starting to percolate and starting to be front and center in the news, it still has a long way to go in the media, but I think it’s something that needs to be talked about more. Certainly there’s companies that are gobbling up market share, but is it profitable market share all the returns? It’s free shipping last mile distribution. Some of the things I’ve recently, you know, really been hearing about are the customer acquisition costs, which is, you know, I’ve seen numbers as high as for digitally native only the online that customer acquisition cost is $2 and a brick and mortar stores $10. And obviously, in a brick and mortar store, you have rent, we might not have that online. But when the spread is that big 200 versus 10. If if that is actually the spread the the economics start to really be challenged. So I guess my question for you is, when does the ShakeOut when do? When does the VC world and investors start to say, you know, what this is too much in we really need harmonized retail digitally only is really not practical.

Dennis 25:19
Well, you know, I, I wish I could, I could give you a simple answer to that. I mean, I’m a little bit surprised, frankly, that it hasn’t shaken out more than it has. I mean, Wayfarer is a company that I love to pick on. And, you know, Wayfair, to me, is just an unsustainable business model. And it has appeared that way to me and some others for, you know, at least 18 months. And they announced their earnings. And, you know, they have great sales growth, but their profits get worse. And sometimes the stock takes a hit. But you know, it’s still valued at, I don’t know, $8 billion, or something. So, you know, we’re having more companies, more of these companies are trying to come public, a few of them are public, I think, the scrutiny, I guess, it’s probably charitable. That, you know, people are starting to look at WeWork and Uber and Lyft and peloton and other businesses that have very poor economics and wondering, you know, what needs needs to change. So, I mean, I think the, as you alluded to, I think the scrutiny is going up, there’s more awareness. But you know, we haven’t had in the last couple of years anyway, any real big flameouts, and I think it’s going to take a couple of these, these brands to really hit a wall, and then I’ll sort of cast doubt on on many of the others. But you know, who knows when that can happen tomorrow, it, you know, may take a little bit longer, but you know, a lot of these companies, particularly the ones that are starting to open a lot of physical stores, you know, their cash needs remain significant. And, you know, most of these store models, I mean, there’s very few of these brands that have opened more than a handful of stores. And so, there’s also a real question as to how scalable the stores will be. So I, you know, I think in the next year or so, but, you know, it’s hard to tell, you know, Amazon has been able to go a long time without making any money really in retail. And being, you know, just keep plowing it back and growth, but I mean, they have a whole different business model really compared to most people.

Ressa 27:36
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Playing devil’s advocate a bit. I think the one thing that helps digitally native brands, and a lot of startups is the consumer has spoken. And they want it more convenient, and they want it now. And whether that’s companies doing next day shipping or doing byline pickup, in store, whatever the format, and it probably looks a lot like harmonized retail, I think the reality is the consumer has spoken, and they want to now and I think it’ll be interesting to see how that piece of that shakes out given. Surely, online is really challenging economics.

Dennis 28:22
Yeah, I think I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s an really interesting dynamic because I agree, I think you know, consumers that you know, the table so called table stakes, I think for for a lot of customer experience has really gone up, you know, where delivery in returns and exchanges are easy and all these other kinds of things that are they’re costly to implement, have become the customer expectation. And, you know, you’re getting into sort of these, these these wars on delivery speed, and just kind of upping the customer service, all of which is pretty expensive. And you know, that that goes across the entire whole of the retail industry. Now if you’re Amazon or Walmart or Target or some of these companies with with deep pockets and massive scale. You know, you still might question whether it’s kind of fundamentally a race to the bottom, but you know, they, they can afford to do it. A lot of other companies, you know, even some fairly big ones feel like they have to keep up and they often don’t have the balance sheet or just you know, the the margins to compete. So I think that this this kind of constant upping the ante on on customer service. And, and the growth of E commerce, which has some pretty challenging economics is going to continue to put a lot of pressure on on a lot of the weaker players whether their brands had been around for a long time or are some of these newer brands that are trying to grow quickly.

Ressa 29:54
Any other good teasers, any other good information you would like to leave the listeners with about The book that we haven’t already discussed?

Dennis 30:03
Well, one, and it’s, you know, it’s certainly not an original point, really. But I think, you know, if you look at the, the companies that are struggling for the most part, they watched the last 15 or 20 years happen to them, you know that they fundamentally did not understand how transformative many of the technologies were going to be, and how quickly consumer preferences and so forth are changing. And they were afraid to take take risk. And I think, you know, one of the lessons in the book, it’s essential number eight is, you really have to be fun, you have to take up more fundamentally radical approach to business and be willing to be much more experimental and take much more more risks that that’s just the nature of the beast and retail today. And I would say it’s becoming even more important, because as far as I can tell, the pace of change, which has been pretty significant, the past five years, 10 years, is only going to increase. And so it really takes I think a different different minds that some cultural changes, some different techniques and processes to operate your business going forward. Or you’re gonna get left behind.

Ressa 31:22
Yeah, it’s a great point. It’s one of the things that I really admire about Walmart and Amazon. And they’re, they’re both really tasting and experimenting all the time, whether that’s Walmart, with bonobo clothes or delivery into your home or Amazon with for store buying whole foods, I think they’re all taking a lot of shots, and eventually the hit ones that, you know, that end up, you know, winning games and our big score. So it’s a great point. And I’m glad you hit on that.

Dennis 31:55
Yeah, I think you know, you know, there’s lots of cliches and quotations around taking more risk. But you know, I think at least a couple of retailers that I’ve worked for, and I’ve worked with, you know, culturally, they just were more geared to not making a mistake, then really leaning into and taking more chances. And I think that that hesitancy, to try stuff is actually the most risky thing you can do in this environment, you know, they, they think they’re avoiding risk by being cautious and studying and only doing a few things. But actually, they’re, they’re, they’re creating more risk for their business, because the only way you’re going to succeed in most cases today is to try a lot of different stuff. You know, you’ll have a certain percentage, hopefully, that, that are homeruns, you’ll have some, that’ll be singles and doubles, you’ll have others that’ll be, you know, glorious failures. And you know, that you learn from and pivot. And so it’s just really developing this culture of experimentation and trying a lot of different things and developing a process to move through them. And that’s, that’s what Amazon and Walmart and some other companies are really good at. I mean, Amazon has made and, you know, a whole lot of mistakes over the last few years, but they’ve tried so many things, that they’ve also had a lot of things that have worked, so you can’t be afraid to fail. You just have to develop a culture and a process to systematically fail, fail forward, fail better, you know, some other

Ressa 33:29
people refer to it. So we’re mentioning a lot about taking chances here. What retailer in recent time, didn’t pivot didn’t take enough chances didn’t, you know, take some risk that could have changed their outcome forever? And, you know, it went the reverse and they failed because of not taking the risk?

Dennis 33:54
Well, I mean, certainly one, one I worked for Sears, I mean, they’re not quite gone.

Ressa 34:00
But practical matter, they’re gone. What could Sears have done differently? Well, I

Dennis 34:04
believe and I know, some people, a lot of people don’t agree with me, but I think the single thing and maybe the only thing that would have saved Sears was to have basically migrated their home and their home business off the mall, you know, to have become either to have acquired Home Depot or Lowe’s, in the 90s, which we did have an opportunity to do and passed on. Or, you know, potentially before those those brands got too big to have developed its own home improvement warehouse, because the strengths the brands, I can more craftsman diehard and so forth that were really strong and had a lot of equity, were ultimately basically kept captive in a failing format, you know, which is the moderate department store. So I think, you know, had that migration happened, you know, 20 or so years ago, you could Have more or less successfully wound down the mall based stores as more apparel stores are sold that off, and really moved your assets to where the customer wanted to buy them, and gotten into a lot of other related categories, trying, you know, trying to sell that mix of merchandise on the mall. You know, it’s just not, it was never I mean, it was pretty clear by the end of the 90s, that that wasn’t going to work. It’s one of the reasons why I left was, you know, we had worked on trying to figure out how to how to make that happen. And it was clear, it wasn’t gonna happen. So, you know, it’s been a very long descent because Sears did have a lot of assets that Eddie Lampert was able to, to unload. But you know, that business was effectively been effectively dead for

Ressa 35:47
about 15 years. I actually had no idea. And that would have changed the landscape of retail if they were able to execute on that. Really interesting, really, thanks for sharing that story. Use the word remarkable a lot. He talked about the middle. He talked about value. Why don’t you tell us? Yeah, he talked about premium when he tell us who’s a retailer on the value side that you find the market wall and Intel are on the previous remarkable and why? Yeah,

Dennis 36:17
well, I think I mean, I think I think there are plenty, I think I certainly think you know, TJ Maxx TJ X on on the value side is, is you know, quite quite a remarkable retailer. You know, they’re remarkable. And in a way, that’s different than say, you know, on the other end of the spectrum, I might pick out, say Restoration Hardware, or Lululemon, you know, they, they obviously execute their businesses very different ways. But you know, TJ X is able to, you know, operate a very efficient, fun place to shop with, with great value and a lot of interesting product discovery all the time and do so at a, at a huge scale. You know, when you look at, say, Restoration Hardware, you know, which I often point out their new, their new concepts, because, you know, at a time where people are closing stores and making their stores stores smaller, Gary Freeman and team went, you know, the totally opposite direction by investing in these, you know, huge palaces, you know, over the top presentation, but I think you know, that’s very relevant to their particular customer. And they create a real destination, not only for home decorating ideas, but as you may know, they have restaurants and other things that make it a real, real memorable experience. So, but I think I think there are a lot I mean, I think if you go down and look at the retailers that are, are growing market share and growing share of wallet with their core customers. They’re all doing something that’s really, really distinctive and interesting and intensely customer relevant. And you know, at the same time, you also have to execute very well. I mean, there’s certainly plenty of retailers that have really cool concepts, but haven’t executed very well, you can still get into trouble even with a with a great idea. So I think you need that combination of great strategic design and great

Ressa 38:11
execution. Totally, you’ve given us some interesting perspective on the state of retail, what is one prediction, you could give in detail over the next year or two that you think’s gonna happen? Well, I

Dennis 38:25
think well, I guess I’d say, the two that I mentioned, one is kind of what we were talking about before, I think we will see, you know, the Bloom will be off the rose, so to speak on on some of these digitally native brands. I think we will see some sort of shakeout start to occur there. On the other side, I think, and this is more hopeful. But I am hoping we’re nearing the end of the the correction, the massive correction we’re seeing in store closings. I certainly think we’re going to still see quite a few this year. But I feel like maybe we’re getting a little bit closer to an equilibrium point. And you know, there’s always store closings, but I think we’ll, we’ll hopefully get back to a more more moderate pace and things might settle down a little bit. But that may be may have another year to go on that. I don’t know. But so that may be a little bit more hopeful than

Ressa 39:20
a confident prediction. All right, Steve, the next segment of the show is called retail wisdom. Three questions for you. Question, one last piece of commercial real estate advice for those listeners out there?

Dennis 39:38
Well, I don’t know if this is exactly where the question was, is going but I would, I would, you know, sort of use the remarkable framework to think of, you know, really focus the on Well, two things I guess from remarkable, you know, think about the whole piece of commercial real estate is needing to be remarkable. And you know, then focus on tenants that really have a A high degree of remark ability, because I think those are the ones that are going to continue to thrive and

Ressa 40:06
deliver good results. Great advice right there. Appreciate that. The listeners will too. All right. Second question. Extinct retailer, you wish would come back from the dead?

Dennis 40:20
Well, you know, there, there, there aren’t that many that, that I’d say that I love that went away and probably because, you know, not not many people love them. I mean, I do have a soft place in my heart for for series, which I, you know, do consider, as I said earlier, kind of effectively dad, or it’s certainly, you know, they’re on their last last legs, but I think you know, there were so many great pieces of Sears. That could have worked better and you know, just obviously didn’t didn’t happen.

Ressa 40:55
The whole Sears perspective in this conversation is really enlightened me. Both this question and the part said that you highlighted earlier you, you bring a lot of insights that I don’t think are really well known about one of the most prolific retailers of our generation. So I really appreciate that. It’s it. That part of the conversation has been fascinating. All right. Third question. One of the hottest retail items this past Christmas season. Was the rebel thermal Brewer coffee maker. You What is the retail price on Rebels website of that product?

Dennis 41:37
This is just a just makes coffee not like an espresso machine.

Ressa 41:41
Yes. The first craft filtered coffee automatically.

Dennis 41:45
Okay. $129

Ressa 41:49
No, the retail price is 299 95 cents.

Everything good coffee is certainly a premium product. I may have to try it out. I’m a big coffee, dad. And receive listen, I

wish you nothing but success. I hope your book takes off and everyone on this pod podcast buys it. And you know have a great New Year and wishing you nothing but success. Thanks for stopping by.

Dennis 42:18
Thank you enjoyed it.

Ressa 42:22
Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us. This podcast highlights the stories behind deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a retailer, broker attorney or an architect. Contact Diane Lee at D L E at DLC Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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