Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS

Sometimes you have to step across the Silo!

 Sometimes you have to step across the Silo! 

 This is part four and the final in a series of my reflections on the Tennessee Valley Economic Development forum on retail recruitment that was held September 29th, 2012 on navigating the retail waters.

 Some communities make it difficult for a retailer to locate in their community.  Retailers have a budget and time frame to open new stores.  Remember you are not necessarily competing against a neighboring community, but with other opportunities across the country. These suggestions below will offer a communities economic development team some guidance on how to do the job of recruiting retailers to their community from the viewpoint of the retailer.

One of the reasons I value my association with The Shopping Center Group is the focus on the retailer.  Our CEO drills it into our company mantra that we need to know our customers better than their own employees.  Many of us who have joined the company have actually been on the retailer side. 

How do you suggest economic developers, chamber directors and community leaders handle the retail waters?

1.  Focus on the right things!  Retail recruitment is different that industrial recruitment. 

 2.  Go back to the basics!  i.e.:  Cold calling your peer communities within 100 miles.  Remember is a retailer is not in adjacent community they may not have distribution capabilities to your community.  Go to your peer communities and identify and contact those retailers who are not currently located in your community.    

 3. Have a great website with all the information easily accessible.

 Ask around and find communities that have champion websites according to the retail tenant representatives in your area of the country and emulate those sites.

 Retailers and their tenant representatives want and need to be able to find easily at minimum the following information:

  Property owner’s information including contact information

  1.  Community demographics and psychographics
  2.  Primary and Secondary Trade Areas
  3.  Area businesses with number of employees
  4.  Area Schools with number of students
  5.  Area attractions with number of annual visitors
  6.  Inventory of available property for lease or sale.  Keep it up to date!
  7.  Retailers currently in the market
  8.  Zoning and Planning process with area contacts
  9.  Building permit process
  10.  Communities signage criteria
  11.  Easy contact information to community’s economic developers.     Phone numbers, emails addresses, physical address and not just through a contact us section embedded within the website.  
  12. Any economic incentives that may be offered.   
  13. Have any news posted on expansions and openings and keep it current.

 4. Understand your market and its potential customer make-up and size.  There are retailers in many different social economic categories.

    5.  Know your available product and have an inventory on your website.  Keep retailers and brokers informed of new opportunities.

       7.  Understand the retailers you are going after. Do your research!

      8.  Build a network of relationships – Retailers, Brokers, Developers, Banks.

      9.  Know your trade area.  You add value by knowing your market from a retailer’s perspective.

       10.  Treat your town square or main street like a shopping center and merchandise when recruiting retailers.

       11. Number One:  Embrace Franchising!  Most retail growth is because of franchising.  See one of my earlier blogs on cultivating entrepreneurship.

 12.  Social Media is what a community makes of it.

 13.  Answer the question for the retailer about will their company make a profit in our community?

 14.  Understand that retail recruitment is good for communities.

                                   a. Generating and growing revenue – Sales Tax, Property Tax and Ad Valorem Tax

                                    b. Improves the overall quality of life for a community.

                                    c. Helps in Industrial and Business Recruitment

 15.  Preparation is a crucial part of the process!

 16.  Stay connected to brokers and retailers by attending local, regional and national ICSC shows.

 17.   Collect sales figures for your community’s retailers and use this information confidentially when asked by retail prospects or their brokers.

 18.  Retail recruitment takes patience and tenacity.  We always say “it is marathon and not a sprint.”

 What retail development best practices have communities engaged in that you applaud and would like to see other communities adopt!

             1.  Have the right information available!  If I have to create it myself the      community may go to bottom of stack.  A broker’s prospective.

 Note: I know several communities that have work with The Shopping Center Group and/or Buxton.  Keep doing it and if you have not started than start today.

             2.  Be willing to partner with the retailers and developers.  Private and Public        Partnerships are the new normal.  From Overton Square in Memphis to the     redevelopment of the town square in Bolivar.          

            3.  Retailers are armed with data!  Have yours ready and know it well.

             4.  Communities should treat retailers like customers and that does not mean you  must loosen aesthetic standards.

             5.  Retailer and Broker Incentives.  The City of Bartlett, Tennessee rocks!

              6. Regional areas need to work together to recruit retailers as they open multiple locations!  Nobody does this better than (WTIA) West Tennessee Retail Alliance.  Jim Blakenship and Mike Philpot Rock!

            7. When people in your community get in the way of positive retail recruitment you need sometimes to “Step Across the Silo” and correct the problem and make the deal happen.  Retailers and their brokers will respect this. 

 Another big congratulations to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s economic development team and the excellent job they did putting on this forum.  TVA Rocks!

 I hope you will check out future weekly commentary at   If you enjoy the commentary please subscribe online.



Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS is a partner with The Shopping Center Group a 3rd party retail real estate advisory firm in their Memphis office, an adjunct professor in the graduate real estate program at The University of Memphis, in 2013 Shawn will join the faculty of the Homburg Academy teaching on-line real estate classes world-wide and is also co-founder &Chairman of the Board for the Memphis Business Academy charter schools (K-12th grade) in the Frayser area of Memphis.  

For all your retail real estate needs (tenant representation, landlord representation and property, investment & 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!

The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.  They should not be considered the opinion of The Shopping Center Group, LLC in which I am associated.



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