Not many retailers have a base of 1,100 stores and plan to expand by 75 more locations per year, but for hat king LIDS Sports Group, it’s no sweat.
LIDS Sports Group was started by athletic retail store managers and partners Glenn Campbell and Scott Molander in the mid-1990s. At first, shopping mall executives were skeptical of their plan to sell only hats. But if other stores could sell only cookies, why not hats? Hat World Inc. was born.
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Founded in 1998, Acadia Realty Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that specializes in acquiring, re-developing and operating retail and urban mixed-use properties. The company’s focus is on finding properties in high-barrier-to-entry markets, such as dense urban and major metropolitan markets. Its current portfolio totals more than 10 million square feet across the United States.
“We used to be more focused on suburban markets, but coming out of the recession we developed a new strategic plan,” says Christopher Conlon, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our focus has been much more on urban and street retail in the last few years, although we still own an important suburban portfolio and continue to invest there.”
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The footwear market can be challenging, but Shoe Carnival Inc. sets itself apart by stocking more shoes than any other retailer, Vice President of Real Estate Michael Smith says. “Our average store will stock 28,000 pairs of shoes,” he says. “That is far superior to our competitors.
“We can carry more colors, more sizes, and that [gives] us the ability to satisfy the consumer on a consistent basis,” he continues. “We have everything from athletic shoes to work boots to sandals and slides. We provide quality brands at a reasonable price, which is why most of our customers buy multiple pairs.”
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It may not be in the retail trenches helping customers find the right dress for an event, recommending good reads for a summer vacation or guiding them to aisle three for cereal, but R.H. Ledbetter Properties still plays a big part in retailers’ successes. As a developer, owner and operator of 1.8 million square feet of commercial properties across Georgia, Tennessee and Indiana, Ledbetter Properties knows that the behind-the-scenes decision it makes affects retail performance at the register.
“Our customers are the retailers, not the consumers, and our objective is to make our retailers happy,” explains COO E. Wright Ledbetter of the family owned company. “We view them as our business partners, so we work closely with retailers to make sure we are providing them with the best business environment for their needs so they can find success conducting their business.”
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No matter how large sports gear retailer Hibbett Sports has expanded its footprint throughout the United States, the company has maintained its status as the neighborhood sporting goods store wherever it lands. According to Jeff Gray, vice president of real estate for Hibbett Sports, focusing on smaller communities where its locations are known as the go-to store for all things sporting goods is the reason for the company’s success.
“We primarily locate in smaller towns, so we are a big deal in most towns we’re in,” Gray says. “We take the concept of local sporting goods store to the next level with our products and brands, and it has always been that way. We want to go where it is a big deal and we’re the only place to get what we sell.”
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Goodwill of Central Arizona focuses on selling products, but its success is really based on its staff’s customer service, Vice President of Real Estate Kim Ryder says. “We really value having the best people in play,” she says.
Vice President of Retail Operations Jackie Halleen agrees. “Not only are we a fast-growing retail organization, but we’re a mission-based organization,” she says. “[We need] people that will really contribute and be really passionate about what they do.”
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The big and tall man's shopping experience has never been an easy one, but Destination XL (DXL) is in the process of changing that. Its parent company is in the midst of a transformation to change its format and bring everything from value-priced private labels to high-end designer brands to big and tall men in an array of sizes and styles.
Destination XL is part of the Destination XL Group Inc., the largest multi-channel specialty retailer of big and tall men's apparel. It currently operates Destination XL, Casual Male XL, Casual Male XL Outlets, Rochester Clothing, B&T Factory Direct, Shoes XL and Living XL retail locations. The company also has a direct-to-consumer business through catalogs and e-commerce sites. However, it is in the middle of an effort to convert around 480 Casual Male XL, Casual Male XL Outlets and Rochester Clothing locations into more than 230 Destination XL stores.
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Some firms tend to rely on tried-and-true methods, but Mall Properties Inc. (MPI) encourages creativity from its staff, COO Michael A. Makinen says. “[We encourage] pushing the envelope and challenging ourselves to look for unique solutions and opportunities to create value in our properties,” he declares.
For instance, the New York City-based real estate firm is looking at ways it can take the best practices of its hotel, office and residential teams and apply them to its retail division, Makinen says. As it brings together the four teams, “We’re cross-referencing their strengths,” he says.
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