Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS

Mid-South Entrepreneurs – Happy New Year!

New Years Blog- January 1, 2012

This is my inaugural blog post.  I have been planning for past two years to create a blog and 2012 is the year that it will be happening.

RetailRockintheMidSouth .com will focus on the Retail Real Estate and retailing throughout the Mid-South area, and evolve as an information source where all commercial real estate issues and events can be discussed in an open forum.

My primary focus on retail comes from my partnership and association with the largest and best 3rd party retail only real estate firm in the Southeastern and now Eastern United States known as “The Shopping Center Group”.   I am entering into my 10th year with the firm, I feel blessed to be a part of a family of co-workers who set the standard for innovation, expertise and leadership in the industry.

I hope you will enjoy my weekly commentary or the commentary of many guest bloggers that I hope to share with you throughout 2012.  In addition, I will post articles, links and posts that affect the Commercial Real Estate “CRE” and retail industries.

The City of Memphis – A Place of Entrepreneurism

I am not a native of Memphis or even of the Mid-South area, but a long time resident.  I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and came to The University of Memphis (then Memphis State) to play handball.  During that time received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business and real estate from the Fogelman School of Business and Economics in addition we won the 1986 Handball National Intercollegiate National Team Championship for Handball in which I was co-captain of the team.

People often ask me why I love Memphis and why I chose to stay here.  It is a choice and I can give a hundred reasons why I love this city, but always the one reason that stands out is my fascination with Memphis’ entrepreneurs and entrepreneurism.  Memphis is a hotbed for entrepreneurs in many industries and especially in the area of “CRE”.  On December 22nd of 2011 I woke up to read that the historic A. Schwab retail store on Beale Street has been sold to decedents of Clarence Sanders.  For those who may be unfamiliar with either A. Schwab or Clarence Sanders, A. Schwab was founded in 1876 by haberdasher Abraham Schwab.  It has been a mainstay iconic retail store on the world famous Beale Street for many years.    Clarence Sanders was the founder of Piggly Wiggly and the creator of the first self serve grocery store.   I know that Mr. Sanders would be very proud of his grandson and his wife, who are part of the new ownership group.  One of the current A. Schwab buildings actually housed a Piggly Wiggly store in the 1920’s.

The list of entrepreneurs in this city runs deep throughout many industries like Fred Smith at Fed Ex, William B. Dunavant at Dunavant Enterprises (Cotton), Robert Buckman at Buckman Laboratories (Industrial Chemicals), Allen Morgan at Morgan Keegan (Investments) and Harry J. Phillips (BFI) to name just a few.  (Mr. Phillips or simply “Harry” as everyone refers to him was my son’s great grandfather.)  This city also has a very rich history of entrepreneurs in commercial real estate and retail real estate industries.  I have listed only a few notable accomplishments below.

Clarence Sanders

Late 1889’s – The founder of Piggly Wiggly created the 1st Self Service grocery store in America and changed the way supermarkets were run.

T. David Goodwin

1949 – T. David Goodwin Companies built Poplar Plaza, the first Suburban Shopping Center in America.

Kemmons Wilson

1953 – Kemmons Wilson along with his partner Wallace Johnson created the first roadside motel chain that would become the leading hotel company know as Holiday Inn.

William “Buck” Clark

1965 – After a successful career of building homes and communities throughout the city, Clark set his sights on transforming the Memphis suburban skyline with the development of White Station Tower and seven years later he built Clark Tower.

Fred Smith

1973 – The founder of Fed EX not only changed the way mail could be delivered but created a whole new way goods( including retail packages) are shipped.  This industry helped Memphis earn the distinction of “American’s Distribution Center”.

City of Memphis

1975 – The City of Memphis developed the Mid-American Mall which at that time, was the largest open air pedestrian mall in the United States

Henry M. Turley

1977 – Founded his company and focused on Downtown Memphis creating such projects as nationally acclaimed Harbor Town, South Bluffs, Cotton Exchange Building and the Shrine Building.

Jack Belz

1979 – Belz Enterprises which opened its doors in Memphis in the 1940’s, developed The Belz Factory Outlet Mall in Lakeland, Tennessee, the first enclosed factory outlet mall developed from ground up in the United States.

1982 – Belz Enterprises redeveloped the grand Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis and created the catalyst for the downtown renaissance that is still taking place.

J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III

1979 – Originally AutoZone was known as AutoShack (the largest automotive parts retail store) was founded technically in Forest City, Arkansas but moved shortly to Memphis.

Dan Poag and Sandy Thomason

1981 – The company Poag & Thomason (today known as PM Lifestyle Centers) developed the “Saddle Creek” shopping center in the Memphis suburb of Germantown and created the first “Lifestyle Center” which has gone on to transform the retail industry.

John Elkington and Steve Keltner

1981 – Then Elkington and Keltner (today known as Performa Real Estate) signed a deal with the City of Memphis to redevelop Beale Street.   Whether you like or dislike John Elkington his mark as been left on the city with the re-development of a world class tourist destination of Beale Street and the idea of entertainment districts throughout the United States.

R. Brad Martin

1984 – After acquiring the four store Proffitt’s chain with a group of investors grew the chain from 70 million in sales to $ 7 billion in sales and in 1998 acquires Saks Fifth Avenue.

The spirit lives on of these great entrepreneurs through their own descendants and others who are reshaping our city and the commercial real estate industry.  Many of their accomplishments and projects will be shared in upcoming posts.

We expect great projects and businesses to continue to be started in Memphis that not only reshape Memphis, but have a lasting impression on the national scene.  With organizations like Emerge Memphis, Launch Memphis, Center of Entrepreneurism at The University of Memphis, Memphis Bioworks, The Memphis Entrepreneurship Institute and the Memphis Society of Entrepreneur will continue this great trend in Memphis.

These are some of the reasons I chose to be a Memphian!  Also why I love working in retail real estate as I have the opportunity to work entrepreneurs everyday.  I hope you will check out future weekly commentary at

Warmest Regards and Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2012,


Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS is a partner with The Shopping Center Group a 3rd part retail real estate advisory firm in their Memphis office, an adjunct professor in the graduate real estate program at The University of Memphis and a co-founder and Chairman of the Board for the Memphis Business Academy charter schools (K-12grade) in the Frayser area of Memphis.   

For all your retail real estate needs (tenant representation, landlord representation, investment and land sales) I hope that you will choose The Shopping Center Group and me to represent you and your business.  We understand that representation is a privilege and that you have a choice!

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  1. Shawn – Congratulations on getting started. Retail RE needs a bigger voice and I’m glad you’re making a contribution.


  2. Congratulations & good job, Shawn! When you have a chance, it would be great to get an update on what’s happening with the former Schnuck’s center at Goodman & Swinnea in Southhaven.

  3. Hey! I’ve just stopped by to say thanks for this nice post. Take care!

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