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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The human male can be a fickle beast when it comes to clothes shopping. We realize we want to dress well and come off as presentable, but we often find ourselves at a loss as to how to make that happen. When clothes shopping is any less convenient than a quick stop at the store at the corner, it won’t be worth our effort. And if our definition of fashion isn’t reasonably priced, off to the nearby discount big-box retailer we go.

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The days of the general store may be gone, but its spirit lives on through retailers like Florida-based Bealls Outlet, which was founded to focus on smaller markets than those typically served by large department stores. Started in 1915 as a five-and-dime in Florida, today the company has more than 460 stores in 17 states, and President Dave Alves says it has its sights set on even bigger and better things. Although Bealls Outlet is undergoing a transformation of sorts, Alves says the chain will remain focused on its core concept of a convenient and welcoming store where everyone can find the styles and brands they want, all at lower prices.

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New England is beset with small one-way streets, curvy roads that switch names mid-curve, and traffic jams that put even the worst in Los Angeles to shame. But it’s also full of potential for investors looking to best such challenges with unique retail solutions. Such is the case with Linear Retail Properties. Bill Beckeman, president and CEO, established the company in 2003 with a mission to be an aggregator of smaller, well-located convenience-oriented retail properties in the New England and Greater Boston area. Beckeman said institutional investors typically don’t find great success in buying significant amounts of retail space in New England, mostly because the region doesn’t look like other parts of the country. So he founded Linear Retail Properties with a focus on the region’s distinct profile.

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Thirty days after buying Port America, a mile-long waterfront property along the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, Md., Steven Peterson’s father, Milton, turned to him and said, “Now what do you want to do?” Now the president of The Peterson Companies and in control of the multi-billion-dollar property known as National Harbor, Peterson’s initial response was, “I don’t know.” 

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This real estate investment trust takes a slow-and-steady approach to tackling its market to ensure its shareholders see positive returns. In the late 1980s, the board of Connecticut-based Urstadt Biddle Properties put core principles in place to guide the trust’s operations. The first was that the real estate investment trust (REIT) invest in one property type, which is the grocery-anchored shopping center. The second was that the REIT invests in one market, which is the New York suburban area. For the past 20-plus years, Urstadt Biddle has continued to define its portfolio using both of those principles. 

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