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The Container Store in New York, NY with Valerie Richardson

Episode #: 047
The Container Store in New York, NY with Valerie Richardson

Guest: Valerie Richardson
Topics: The Container Store, real estate


Chris Ressa 0:01
This is retail retold the story of how that story 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.

I’d like to thank one of our sponsors, retail openings and In today’s dynamic retail landscape, tracking openings and closings before they take place has never been more important. Having this intelligence is an undeniable competitive advantage, retail openings and also known as Rock Tracks, future openings and future closings, comprehensive, accurate and reliable. The rock is your crystal ball and the key to making well informed decisions with confidence in today’s evolving retail climate. Hey, everyone, welcome to retail retold. This week, we have Val Richardson on the show. That was the vice president of real estate at The Container Store. And she brings a ton of insights to the show. But before we get into the show, I wanted to bring up a topic that I’ve been reading a lot about lately. And that topic is working on your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. And most of us are trying to constantly improve on those weaknesses. Nothing wrong with that. But I believe now is a good time to go in the other direction. We’ve been stressed tested. The last four months were extraordinarily challenging, trying for most people. Doing some reflection and seeing what projects, tasks or skills really shined through as strengths for you. Would be good practice right now. Because if there were things that you were really strong at during the last four months, that means you’re probably pretty good at those. And it’s probably time to focus on that and push the pedal to the metal. That’s what I got for everyone today. I hope you enjoy the show. It was a true honor to interview Val. And I think you’re gonna love it. Thanks.

Today I’m honored to say we have Val Richardson. Val has been in the business for 40 years. For the last 20 years she has been the vice president of real estate for the Container Store. She worked at numerous retailers before that. And in 2019 she became the first retailer to chair the ICSC. I’m really excited for the show. Welcome to the show.

Val Richardson 2:52
Val. Thank you, Chris. I’m glad to be here.

Ressa 2:57
Why don’t take a moment tell us about you. What you’re up to and the Container Store.

Richardson 3:03
Be happy to I am. You know, there’s that old adage that the real estate business you either grew into it or fell into it right? I know you have a boss, good friend of mine, Adam who kind of grew into the business. And I absolutely fell into it. So my intent as a as a young person coming out of college was to be a special education teacher. And while I look back now and think that maybe there was some attributes of that training that played quite well in the real estate business. My first job actually was with a development company. I was a secretary, they called it back then, you know making the coffee and watering the plants and I worked with a shopping center property manager for this for a larger company. And over time, the company was expanding quite rapidly. This was in the early 80s. And I had the opportunity to move over into the leasing side of the shopping center division and quite frankly, one of kind of the reoccurring themes of my life. I had several mentors and advocates that really allowed me to pursue a role that I felt like you know, I was capable of but that nobody had really done before in that particular company. The company was Trammell Crow company. They’re still around today, but not in the development capacity that they were in the 80s. But through them I got the experience of leasing transactions, property development, really the full spectrum of shopping center, kind of from a pure you know, here’s a piece of dirt standpoint all the way through the building a lease up and the ongoing management and it was a great opportunity to learn really at the speed of some of our Legendary commercial real estate developers at a time in the mid 80s. As you know, we had a significant change in public policy relative to commercial real estate ownership. And that kind of changed the focus of the company moved much more into an asset management company rather than a development company. And one thing that I learned about myself is that I very much liked to create business I, I like the opportunity of coming into a community and bringing a tenant or bringing a shopping center together that maybe had never been there before, or had never been there in that capacity and add value to the community and to the tenants and to the customer. So I was fortunate to have the right relationships and have a an opportunity to go to work for Barnes and Noble booksellers, at the very, very beginning of the superstore, development period. So Lynn Reggio had purchased the Barnes and Noble name there in New York out of bankruptcy, he had a vision that the stores that he owned be Dalton booksellers, and double day and Scribner that were in the malls, could add more in social context and wanted to have a large format bookstore that could be developed out throughout the country. So so my first year with Barnes and Noble was, gosh, is it a bookstore, gosh, is it a bookstore, a plus a music store? Is it a bookstore, plus a music store plus a software store plus a cafe, it was a very quick moving train. But you know, we built us 300 350 stores when, while I was there, I was there a little more than four years. And, and it was it was an incredible time of listening to a creative merchant, try to evolve a concept to meet what the community needs were. And I think at that time, at that place, there was nobody better and doing what Lenny was able to do. During that period, I’d actually moved to New York, and ran into Sally frame cassocks, who at that time was the chairman of Ann Taylor. And after some some time, it seemed that it was appropriate for me to move to Ann Taylor to help them stabilize their their fleet and then help grow the Anttila brand. And, you know, it was one of those times where I felt like you know, I’d done open or shopping centers, I’ve done big box retail, seemed like specialty retail that was primarily mall and lifestyle based would would be a good addition to, to my kind of toolkit of representing retail and real estate. So I had the opportunity there to not only represent Ann Taylor, but also be a lead on the team that took Sally’s vision of a of a division that appealed to a young woman that maybe wasn’t quite ready for and tailor go to work where but very much had the same sense of fashion and style just didn’t have the same pocketbook. And so we created Ann Taylor Loft. And by the time I left in 2000 and Taylor Loft was actually a larger division than the mothership and Taylor. And I know that you know, they’ve gone on to to other ownerships and banks today, but it was still quite an exciting industry to be a part of specialty apparel retail, you know, during the 90s was, was kind of the bee’s knees, and 2000, we decided that we needed time to come back to Texas, you know, we are Texans born and bred here. So there was no doubt that at some time, we would come back. And that seemed to be the right time. So doing so I was able to reconnect with people that I’d known before that owned the Container Store. And it was still owner operated at that time. When I joined in 20 and 2000. They had 22 stores. And so I had the opportunity then to build a real estate team and really, to help the Container Store get to the point of, you know, just just a little shy of a billion dollars today. Whereas it’s a real, that’s a real milestone for me. I’ve had been with three companies that had the opportunity to reach a billion dollars in sales. So we’re not going to let a little thing like a pandemic stop us from here I am. That’s my retail career. Wow, Val.

Ressa 9:37
That is an extraordinary story. truly fascinating. I love the cute line at the end there. And that kind of leads me into the the next question, which is what’s going on in retail today? What are you seeing and what is your crystal ball saying?

Richardson 9:57
It is a little a little foggy right now kind of like the one in Hogwarts that doesn’t quite come clear until the right moment in the movie. You know, I think what’s interesting to me about this current crisis that we’re in, is it it, it has some similarities, but it’s also the very different from the different from the downturns that we’ve had in commercial real estate and retail, over the last 40 years, you know, we’ve gone through SNL crisises,, bust, and, you know, the rise of big box retail, filling the malls and we’ve done, you know, we’ve gone through several aspects of, of shifts and changes in retail real estate, and in most cases, it was it was focused or limited to a segment of our business, whether it had to do with ownership and, or how loans were structured, or that, you know, we had a population decrease. And so, revenues for retail started to fall, you know, the each one you could kind of look at and say, Okay, here’s the real driving force for what’s going on in the business right now. And therefore, you know, if we look at other periods of time, there were similar shifts in demographics, I’d say, you know, okay, we’ll come out of this within, you know, X period of time. Well, you know, this pandemic is, is it affects everybody in the ecosystem, its its customers, its businesses, it’s not only shopping and shopping centers, it’s all commercial businesses, it’s government, it’s, every aspect of our life is is impacted. And and our health is impacted. And so there’s, there’s so much uncertainty that is created by the the breadth and depth of this issue, that I think the the cautiousness is very high, and the anxiety is high in businesses, because we can’t really clearly say, oh, gosh, let’s point back to X. And know that we’ll be able to recover to pre pandemic levels in 18 months, or 24 months, or, you know, I mean, when, when the Spanish Flu happened in 1920, everything was different. So you can’t really use that as a marker on how our business is going to rebound. You know, most people I’ve talked to, in retail, and let unless they’re in a segment that’s just been decimated. Most people feel like this is about a two year climb back out of the hole that we’re in from a revenue standpoint. But but the reality is, most companies have done other things, to protect their liquidity to retain cash to cut expenses. So it’s possible, it’s possible that as revenues come back, a lot of the companies that make it through will actually be stronger companies than they were, from a balance sheet standpoint, stronger than they were before the pandemic, it just really depends on on how quickly can we get back to some level of customer interaction where we can provide the services that the customer needs and want. Wow,

Ressa 13:27
really interesting insights. And the two year thing makes a lot of sense to me. You know, I hate how we got here, but I love the insights on are we going to see companies that are potentially stronger on the other side, because of the extreme measures they had to take during the crisis.

I guess when I think about this, and I think about the other side, one of the first things that comes to mind is what have you learned that you hope will help you when you get to the other side?

Richardson 14:13
Well, I’ve learned a whole lot more about supply chain management than I ever thought I would need. And I have so much respect for the people in our company that are dealing with issues other than kind of physical plant and customer service related issues. You know, I’m pretty, pretty familiar with you know, how to set up a new store how to how to get fixtures done, how to get product there, how to get you know, new staff trained, but when that all comes to a screeching halt, the you know, it’s like a cartoon where you know, the the train stops and then all the cars you know, kind of pile up on it, you know, because there’s no place to go but forward and and supply chain is just like that. You know, think about, think about how many retailers, regardless of product that they sell, you know, are served by vendors that are not domestic. So whether they’re from China or other parts of Asia or Europe, those supply chains have been equally disrupted as our own here in the US. As a matter of fact, Asia was disrupted prior to the pandemic even started because of tariffs and retailers moving things out of China and other places in Asia. And then we went right into Chinese New Year, which everybody plans for, but we certainly didn’t plan to come out of Chinese New Year with a pandemic. And so you have a whole lot of disruption of, you know, brand new manufacturers may be that are trying to create the appropriate molds and equipment to, to make the product that they’ve been asked to make, but, you know, there’s nobody to send it to, because the US retailers have cut all their orders, you know, for a period of time. And then you’ve got Europe, which tends to be the specialty vendors, they tend to be, you know, small market, I mean, at least for us, we buy things from vendors in in Europe that can’t sell to Target or Walmart or Amazon because they don’t, they’re, they’re small batch provider, right. So they allow us to have some differentiation with our product. Well, quite frankly, some of those guys are still closed down four or five months later, they might not make it. So you’ve got a whole different, you know, sourcing activity that you need to do to be able to provide specialty products for those retailers that need it. And then in the US, you know, we have the unintended consequences, really, of the economic stimulus that has put a lot of our manufacturing employees at a point where they make more money on unemployment than they do work in in their manufacturing plan. So for us, part of our staple of products is you know, the big plastic storage boxes, you know, things that people put in their garage and put in their attic. And, you know, when they when they get organized, particularly when they’ve been trapped at home and want to get some more order in their lives. Well, you know, some of our plants are on 25% productivity just because they don’t have enough people to get back to come back to do the work. So there are all these different things, you know, that are going on, outside of just the relationship that I have with landlords. And, and I would say, an overarching piece of this entire experience, regardless of what function area, my company is focused on it. But is that relationships matter, being able to pick up the phone and call person on the other side and talk through what their issues are, talk through what your issues are, and come up with a plan together that works for both partners to to really work together to make it through this period has been just the hallmark of our business. We’ve had vendors all over the world that have helped us we have had landlords all over the country that have helped us, we have had employees all over the company that have helped us. And and so it’s it’s that that those key relationships and being able to really think through talk through and be transparent, be communicative, and try to work through a period where everyone can come out on the other side and be home. Wow,

Ressa 18:27
that is a lot to unpack. I love the supply chain takeaway, because I don’t think us in real estate. Think about that enough. And if you look at some of the most successful retailers in our industry, they’re often supply chain ninjas. If you look at Walmart, Target, and other successful retailers, they are incredible at supply chain, among other things. But we just don’t talk enough about that in the commercial real estate space.

Richardson 18:57
That’s exactly right. But think about the end you’re right about the commodities players, but but think about apparel, think about it specialty apparel, and the impact on the department stores. You know, I would say probably 85 Maybe 90% of their stuff comes from Asia, it some some some country in Asia. Well, you know, talk about being on that style. And and so, you know, some of the things I think that you’re seeing the pressures that we’re seeing on the apparel segment in our business, have, you know, just as much to do with their, their supply chain and being able to get product as it is, you know, being having stores closed. And you know, think about those guys that they have six weeks of selling time right when it’s spring, and you put your buy in six or eight months earlier, and you pick the right color green, and that’s what you got all over your store for your customers to come in to love to buy, right. All of a sudden now the customers didn’t come in to buy so they’ve lost the whole spring Doesn’t matter if they pick the right color green or not, they’ve lost spring. And they don’t know when to buy for because they don’t know when the pandemic is going to release people to come back to stores. So they’ve lost summer. And if they don’t take a risk, and by fall, you know, then it’s going to be until next spring, before they can really have a reliable revenue stream. They have to think about the different segments of the business and where they’re getting their product from, and how far out can they control that product flow, so that they actually have what they need in the stores for either their online business or their bricks and mortar business? Yeah,

Ressa 20:39
that’s a great point. The seasonality for some retailers is making this environment extremely challenging. And one point that you bring up that I think is really interesting, is when do these retailers? Buy for foregin? What season do they buy for? Because the end of the pandemic is uncertain. Hopefully, we get some visibility soon. And there is an end in sight. You know, the other thing that concerns me is the cost to reopen, in particular the cost to reopen for small business in America. When you go from a cash depletion to reordering product, because you have no product in the store to rehiring people. It’s a real struggle for American small business, there’s a huge cost to that, and it’s going to be problematic.

Richardson 21:39
Absolutely, absolutely. I’ve had I’ve had a number of conversations with landlords and leasing teams, you know, just trying to explain the behind the curtain things that are going on. Because if there’s no visibility from the landlord’s perspective on what it really takes to reopen a store, totally different than opening a store for the first time. Totally different. And and so you get a little documents come across your desk that says, you know, as soon as the as the government mandate is lifted, you know, you will open within five days, well, what about having product? And what if I don’t have any people, and you know, it doesn’t do me any good to tick off a customer who’s finally gotten brave enough to come out and walk into a store, if I cannot serve her? Well. And so you know, there’s just a lot of understanding that has to happen on our property owner and retailer sides, to really have create a good experience for our customers when they come back. Yeah,

Ressa 22:38
this is really tough stuff. And the difficulties are not behind us. You know, many people asked me pre pandemic, for a while now, what is the biggest risk to the industry. And I keep saying the biggest risk that the industry has, is human capital. And I think it’s an exigent issue. If the brightest and most dynamic, most talented, constantly go to the tech industry or other industries, it is going to be a struggle. We need as an industry, to start to do a better job at recruiting and bringing the most talented people into our industry. Because the challenges are fierce, but the rewards are great. And I believe over the long haul. If we can continue to fill the industry with the brightest and most talented that plays out in wins over time. I truly believe that is something we need to focus on as an industry. Personally, I want to talk to more college graduates who want to enter management training programs for retailers and try to take on the challenges head on.

Richardson 24:05
I agree with that. I think I think there’s a difference between a bright mind and a bright, creative mind. Who and what I mean by that is, you know, we’ve seen in our careers we’ve seen some fabulous merchants, some merchants that just stand on the top of a mountain and, you know, describe a vision that then somebody else could go implement, you know, because the real visionaries aren’t great implementers you know, that’s not really what they do. They usually spend way too much money and they take too much time. But right when you have a great merchant and a Stanley Marcus you know or Fred Segal or a Gordon stable or, you know, Mickey Drexler. I mean, love them or hate them. It’s not a personality issue. It’s about what they were able to create from nothing that were was real. Aluminum to the customer base, right? We can build beautiful properties. But if we don’t have tenants in those properties that are are fresh and relevant and compelling to the customer, then we’ve lost the game. So somehow we have to find and incubate these these true merchants that you know, some of them I’ve tried it online. And and I would say there are some of them that were probably really good. But for whatever reason, weren’t able to make the online experience work, we still, we don’t need to have them get frustrated and go off into a different business, you know, they need to find a way to stay in retail, and help this next generation of retail concepts really be special and wonderful, because the technology will allow us to do it, but we need the creative minds behind it to make it out. Well said,

Ressa 25:58
I will give you something thought provoking. I recently had Chris Wallen on the podcast, the CEO of Omni talk. And he was on the black box team at target that helped build the Store of the Future. And he was in supply chain at the gap. He was one of the top merchants at target when he worked at Target. And when he came on, he said, the merchants of the future are the social media influencers. And retailers need to get on board with that. So I’m still processing that.

Richardson 26:41
But what do you think of that? Sure. You know, that. That is an interesting comment. I don’t disagree with it. But I would add the piece that you still have to have the product Sure, social media influencer can if they’re really good at what they do, and there’s some great ones out there. And, but they can influence you know, how, how to get a six pack abs or you know, how to cook for a week on Sundays or, you know, there’s lots of different things that social media influencers can grab on to and add great value to, but but we have to have product, we have to have things that people want and need in order to really give the social media influencer, you know, a path that comes through retail. Drop the mic

Ressa 27:41
moment, well said, I think now is a great time to pivot. I’m conscious of time, I want to move to the next part of the show the story. And you have a great story about how the Container Store ended up in Chelsea, I know you’re really proud of it, why don’t you tell us about that

Richardson 28:01
story. I will. Okay, I joined the company in 2000. And at that time, we had about 22 stores, mostly south, south and southwest, some Chicago major market oriented, but we had never we hadn’t, we didn’t have the courage yet to move into Manhattan. And we felt like That was the next big step that we needed to make as a national retailer, you know, to kind of put our name on the map to show that we really that we were we were a real company. We weren’t just this you know, little box company from Texas. And so I’ve had the good fortune to have lived in Manhattan for seven years and and had a pretty good understanding in the neighborhoods and and then you know, tried to blend what our our requirements were because at that time, we were 25,000 square foot stores primarily freestanding, but also had some and open air shopping centers didn’t have anything in malls yet. Some street locations, but you know, we were really kind of independent from from what was around us. So we were approached with for an opportunity in Chelsea, where the existing primary lease which was on the first floor of the building was in bankruptcy and the space itself it this is in a lady’s mile so you know across from her bed bath and beyond and TJ Maxx is and up the road is a is now a Trader Joe’s and a Michaels and that’s a great historically preserved building, which is you know, in New York what that means, but a portion of the first floor was was in the bankruptcy court to be sold as this lease. And what but what we needed was In that particular space, plus adjacent space in the existing building, so that we would have the right retail square footage, we essentially needed the whole block between 18th and 19th. Street. And then we needed the basement for, for our chakra. So you know how things work in the bankruptcy court, you go, you buy the lease, if you if you’re successful buying the lease, you immediately start paying rent on the lease. Well, I had to tie the two together because I couldn’t have the bankruptcy lease without the adjacent space. And I couldn’t have the adjacent space without the bankruptcy lease. And, and God bless him the the man that owned the building was in his 80s. And he’d owned it forever and used to make towels for JC Penney’s in the basement after the war, and just was a dear, sweet, sweet property owner that actually understood the complexities that we were trying to deal with. And he took the risk on us, he took the risk, that if we could put all the pieces together, that he would then allow us to, to combine the spaces like needed to be combined. So fortunately, we were able to get controlled least out of bankruptcy, we were able to put the remaining spaces with it. We knew that course with bankruptcy, you have to start paying rent immediately. But we were in in the ladies mile. I mean, we’re in a building where you got all the historically preserved activities that you’d have to work with, with the city. And I mean, literally in this building, there is I think, the prototype elevator that was probably shown off at the World’s Fair, you know, in 19 1900. And in Chicago or something, it was just an amazing piece of equipment. But we really marshaled the troops, I develop development partner, worked very closely with Expeditors, in the city and with with city officials, we maintained and cleaned up the exterior of the building, and then did what we needed to do in the building. So at the end of the day, let’s say we bought the lease out of the bankruptcy court in February, and we opened the store that same July, which in itself is unheard of, in Manhattan, regardless of whether or not you’re in a new building, or one from the 1800s. And you know, some of the things that we just intuitively knew, at that time, back in 2000, there was very little, what we would call click and collect or click and pickup business, right, it just didn’t happen. But in New York, you could get a doughnut and a cup of coffee brought to you at two o’clock in the morning, right to the New Yorker expected delivery. So at the same time that we were working through the issues of getting the store built, our IT department was working on a device that would allow a customer to come in and essentially point and click Add a barcode and create a virtual shopping card that would then be delivered to them, you know, the same afternoon or the next day. And so we were we were experimenting, learning, but also really trying to connect with a customer that was there in New York that was so different from every other customer in all 22 of our other stores. And and really created something that eventually became more of industry norm industry standard on how to how to how to handle high activity deliveries and how to handle click and collect business out of a retail store. So I’m really proud of that. And then ultimately, that really put us on the map with the investment community. It allowed us to form a partnership a couple of years later with our private equity owner, Leonard green, and then ultimately led us to an IPO. So so it I would say if there was one transaction, one store that you looked at in our incredible collection of wonderful retail locations and wonderful stores, that one in particular, change the trajectory of our company forever.

Ressa 34:14
Wow, that is incredible. I want to unpack that a little bit. You said you were approached? Did you all already have it in your mind that you wanted to be in New York? Or did you want to be in New York after you were approached because of the interesting opportunity?

Richardson 34:35
No, we we had had the conversations, we felt like it we could handle a store we really didn’t know where we didn’t know how it would all come together. But but there was definitely a receptivity inside the company that that if we found the right thing, we could move on it. Okay, so that that helped. And then my knowledge The city really helped limit down where we felt like the best opportunities from a geographic standpoint would be, I gotta tell you one thing, retailers, retailers have retail mentors, right. They lay meet people along the way that helps shape the way they think and, and help they help each other. In making big decisions. We were very fortunate as a very young company in the 80s. To have cotton I standing Marcus and Mr. Marcus would come and he would visit with our co founders. And we have a series of letters from him over time, where he was speaking to a specific issue for Kip and Gary are talking about retail in general and the customer experience. And it’s just, it’s just a wonderful archive that we have in our company. But our co founder that was our CEO at the time that I was working on Manhattan Kip Tyndall, he had a very close relationship with with Gordon Siegel at Crate and Barrel. And so, you know, here I am in his office with all the pieces and parts of this incredible deal in in Chelsea, right. So the first thing he does is pick up the phone and call Gordon Siegel. And say, oh my god, here’s the opportunity that we have. And here’s what we’ve put together. So what do you think we should do? And of course, I’m sitting on the other side, just cringing thinking, Gordon, please don’t take my space, please don’t take us. And God love him. He told him, he said, Boy, I think that sounds like a great opportunity. You guys will do terrific there, you need to go forward as quickly as you can. And unfortunately, for me, dealing with a lot of people with really high integrity. Gordon came to our grand opening party that we had there that summer. And he walked through and he told him, he said, it’s a really good thing. You took this space because I was going to be right on it.

Ressa 37:02
Oh my god. That’s a story within a story.

Richardson 37:06
If people don’t think that retailers don’t talk, oh, boy, do they ever

Ressa 37:12
understood? And what time period was this? Again?

Richardson 37:17
We opened the store in 2004. Who’s the bankrupt retailer? Today’s man got it.

And the adjacent space and the basement space? Were they vacant? You know, I kind of blocked that out. I don’t know, the the basement was vacant. But the the space next to us. I can’t remember if there was like a lease on short term or whatever. But but the owner was able to get that force. Incredible. Do you think

Ressa 37:51
the lessons you’ve learned in that store? Being so early in 2004 and doing delivery? Do you think that framed how you all do omni channel and helped you through the pandemic?

Richardson 38:07
Probably, you know, as you’re as you’re, as you’re working through an issue, and you know, things change pretty significantly over 20 years, right? So sometimes it’s hard to look back and think where was that really rooted? Or how did that start? How did we get here? We already had an online business at that time. And we started that right for I joined the company. So we’ve been online for for more than 20 years. But there’s certain there Absolutely. As learning that’s going on at all times in the company, throughout the different function groups, we just tend our culture is very collaborative. So you know, things that that I glean from other retailers that I see or that our store operations see from other retailers, then you know, we can see it, we can see it does that make sense to incorporate in what we’re doing? Or, you know, yes, social media and influences are really taking off. So, you know, three years ago, we started an influencer program that’s been very successful for a certain aspects of our business. And we watch other retailers and what they do with virtual design and you know, and that and we’re, we actually accelerated virtual design as we went into the pandemic, because we felt like that was a way to keep connected with our customers has been very successful. And so So I think I think, you know, things are progressive in retail, you know, it’s like, if you look back to the very beginning I like to tell the story about you know, you’ve got your your wooden pushcart and your animal skins and you’re selling them for shekels, you know, around the countryside. And, you know, so that was your first direct to customer experience, right? And so, so retail just kind of repeats itself, based on what the customer needs and then what the technology allows. So, so we’re doing things in a in a different way, but we’re doing the same types of things, getting the product to the customer the way they want it as efficiently as possible.

Ressa 40:08
Well, Val, that is a great story. The whole Crate and Barrel piece and the bankruptcy piece. truly awesome. And I know what 16 years later, but I know you’re proud of it. So congrats. And I know the store. And I assume it’s a very successful store today.

Richardson 40:27
Oh, yeah, we’re very, very fortunate. And again, we’ve got, we’ve got a great landlord partner, which is so necessary in New York, particularly, it’s necessary everywhere. But in New York, just stuff happens. And so you really want a good relationship with with your property.

Ressa 40:47
to land in a historic district in New York, the lady’s mile, to do it under duress, to assemble spaces through a bankruptcy, a really unique story. Thank you for sharing. And I’m really excited that everyone gets to hear it. All right, we’re running short on time. I want to take us to the last part of the show. Retail wisdom. I have two questions for you. Question one, what is your best piece of commercial real estate advice?

Richardson 41:18
I’m not sure it just pertains to commercial real estate, we’ve talked about a bit. relationships matter, relationships matter. And talk a lot younger people getting in the business, a relationship is not a text message. You know, it’s truly getting to know the other party and what their needs are and how you can help solve those needs. So that they can help you with your issue. So I think relationships are the key to this business, and many, many other

Ressa 41:49
I’m going to have to quote you on that. Relationships are not a text message. We have to steal that one.

Richardson 41:56
Welcome to it.

Ressa 41:58
Last question, fan favorite. What extinct retailer, do you wish would come back from the dead?

Richardson 42:06
Now see, here a little test your new york knowledge. I love taka Shemaiah on Fifth Avenue. And you know, as a Japanese department store, they were in the city for 50 years. They finally closed in 2010. But, you know, retail, retail is an experience is not just products sitting on a shelf. And they did the most incredible job of displaying their product and bringing unlike products together in a way that you would that it would relate to you. And you know, it was multi level. You know, it was a commitment to visit the store. But I always walked out if not with some amazing products with always a great feeling about about the experience. Wow.

Ressa 43:07
No, the store I have to admit, I had never gone to the store. But phenomenal answer. No one has ever said that on the show. Big loss, big loss for all of us. Well, Val, we are out of time. But I just want to say thank you this was awesome. Look forward to continually connecting

Richardson 43:30
well thank you Chris, I you know I have so much respect for for you and Adam and the culture of your company. You know, I know you’re working through these challenges in a really high integrity way and I appreciate that very much and enjoy your friendship and enjoy the things that we get to do together. So thank you so much for including me today.

Ressa 43:54
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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