Category: Property Marketing

How Do I Fill Vacant Retail Space? 3 Good Ideas For Bringing In New Tenants

Posted by Retail Attractions Blog on June 13, 2018 in Blog | No Comments

2017 saw record-breaking retail closings, and it looks like 2018 could break that record again. CoStar Group calculated that more than 90 million square feet of retail space is set to close in 2018. This number is easily on-track to pass the 2017 record of 105 million square feet.

As more and more stores close down, it’s leaving empty retail spaces across the nation. This “retail apocalypse” is hitting landlords hard and leaving them with a big question: “How do I fill these vacant spaces?”

The obvious first choice is to find new long-term retail tenants. But that’s not always an option in today’s economy. In many cases, filling your empty retail spaces requires some creative thinking.


Rent To Pop-Ups

Pop-up stores rent retail space temporarily, often for just a few months. Holiday retailers who set up in the months around Halloween or Christmas are a classic example. Another is tax-preparation companies opening for a couple months before April. New businesses might also lease space temporarily to try out a market before committing to a long-term lease.

Rent is typically lower for month-to-month agreements, but it’s often better than leaving your space empty. If you’re going to rent to temporary tenants, it’s important to have basic infrastructure in place. Pop-up shops want a space with restroom, Wi-Fi, heating/air conditioning, and lighting already in place. A neutral color scheme is also a good idea so incoming tenants can personalize things how they want.

Non-Traditional Tenants

Retail space is typically in a convenient location and has readily available parking. Those two attributes can make your vacant spaces a good choice for non-traditional tenants. Day-cares, churches, community clinics, and cultural groups might be interested in your space if they know you have something available.

Renting to clients that aren’t retailers might have an added bonus. The extra traffic can make surrounding vacant spaces more attractive to retail clients, and boost sales for retailers already in the area. There’s one case in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where a theater rented rehearsal space in an upscale shopping center. This boosted sales in surrounding stores and the new location also brought more publicity to the theater. Now, the 3-year lease is turning into a permanent arrangement.

Rethink Retail Space

A long-term solution to vacant retail space could involve changing how you present the retail space. If you had a large store move out, it might be easier to rent if you sub-divide it and market the new spaces to small businesses. And if you’re responsible for a larger retail complex with multiple vacant stores, shifting your marketing focus might help. Some former shopping centers in Seattle, New York, and Denver are finding success with food-themed malls. Other locations are shifting to mixed-use and renting our former retail stores as office space.

If you found this article useful, then you’ll probably like my book, City on a Hill. It gives a no-nonsense take on economic development. Click here to check it out. And if you’re looking for expert advice on how to market your vacant retail spaces, get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to help out.

3 Key Roles Your City Plays In Retail Site Selection

Posted by Retail Attractions Blog on September 15, 2016 in Blog | No Comments

Companies choosing a new location for retail development aren’t the only ones involved in site selection. If you want them to choose your city you have to play a role as well. Developers are looking for proactive cities ready to provide the sort of information and assistance they’re looking for in a successful partnership. You’re their best source for information about the community and local politics, and the only ones who can prove your city knows how to market its attractions.


Local Knowledge Guru

You know more about your community than real estate professionals and site selectors. Your local knowledge isn’t readily available to them and could influence their decision whether or not to build in your city. But unless you make it a point to share this information, they’ll be in the dark.

It’s up to the city to share key info such as unpublicized plans for road widening, infrastructure improvements, residential subdivisions, and other mixed-use commercial deals. Call attention to publicized plans as well, just in case site selectors overlooked that information. You’ll also know about things like local liquor laws and building codes that developers will want to know about.

Political Navigator

Few things are more frustrating for outside investors to navigate than local politics. If there’s political instability in your city, many investors will think the location is too much hassle. Developers see small to mid-size markets as a more risky venture for retail and restaurants, so this affects those markets most.

A united community is highly attractive to potential investors. Developers would much rather work with a city that’s focused and working together than one that’s divided. They need to know they can count on your community to work with them. It’s also easier for them to work in communities that have streamlined the permitting processes and other regulatory requirements.

In-City Marketing Expert

You need to prove to potential investors that your city can make a good first impression. This often begins with the website. Many cities have old websites that are difficult to navigate and cluttered with out-of-date information. You don’t want people researching potential retail development locations to overlook your city because of a negative first impression. Instead, contact us for website consulting, design, development, hosting, and maintenance services tailored to your city’s needs.

The easier you can make it for developers and site selectors to find information about your city’s growth plans, navigate local politics, and market a new development in your community the better. But you still have to catch their eye in the first place. Let Retail Attractions help. We have the contacts within retail and third-party objectivity needed to market your community successfully. Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you grow your city.

Make Your City More Attractive

Posted by Retail Attractions Blog on February 17, 2016 in Blog | 1 Comment

Most cities have the potential for retail growth. While this fact offers hope for cities wondering if they have anything to offer investors, it also means there’s a lot of competition from other communities. Since there’s potential for retail development in many locations, you need to make your community stand out to developers.


Prepare in Advance

Developers don’t want to waste time talking with communities that aren’t ready to welcome new retail development. Before you start marketing your community, know what you have to offer. Lay the groundwork for building public/private partnerships that benefit both the community and the investors.

This starts as a mindset – city governments must take the lead in fostering an attitude that economic development is key to survival and growth. Other practical steps to take include assembling land for development and providing the public infrastructure needed to support new commercial developments.

Offer Innovative Incentives

Most retail development that takes place today involves some type of incentive. As you’re preparing to market your city to potential developers, take a good look at what your city can offer them. This often involves action on the part of the community, such as the extension of sewer, water, and other utilities to a development area.

Other incentives include waiving fees or negotiating tax breaks. Tax increment financing (TIF) can be used to finance redevelopment and community improvement projects. Your community could choose to offer payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deal to limit or defer the property taxes on a developer. A less common incentive would be sales tax deferral on construction.

Present Useful Data

In its raw form, data isn’t that helpful when marketing your community. It’s not the developer’s job to make sense of the raw numbers – it’s yours. The responsibility for presenting data in a useful form falls on the community.

Data is useful once it has been proven, validated, and categorized. If you want to catch retailers’ attention with your data, the best option is to have an independent third party do the analysis. Having Retail Attractions present your community’s information in a professional format lets retailers know you’re serious about working with them.

Streamline Development

Developers are more likely to invest in a community that they know will support them. Going to them with locations ready for development and an incentive plan is a good start. Having a trusted third-party compile and analyze data increases the likelihood that your community will attract attention.

Now you need to demonstrate that your community will follow-through on what you’ve promised. Make your city known for being a community that “gets things done,” by following through on your promises and addressing developers’ concerns in a timely fashion. During the negotiation phase and development process, make the developers’ involvement as pain-free and efficient as possible.

Are you ready to take the next step in attracting new developers to your city? Contact Retail Attractions today.

How to Create A City Vision

Posted by Retail Attractions Blog on December 9, 2015 in Blog | No Comments

Is your city development stagnating? Does it seem like city government is caught in a cycle of debate that’s overshadowing new growth? Are city officials struggling to work together towards a definite goal? Maybe it’s time to shake things up with a new focus.

Changing from “what we’ve always done” to “what we should do for the good of the city” requires a vision of what could be. Where an inspiring, yet realistic, vision exists people will rally around it and work together to the city’s benefit.


First Step

First, you’ll want to take stock of what your city already has to offer, and what your city will need to grow. Taking a good, hard look at the reality of what’s going on in your community is essential for developing a vision that can be translated into the real world.

While you don’t want to be more optimistic than warranted, don’t sell your community short either. Every community has retail potential. If there’s someone in your community traveling out of the city for goods or services, then you’re losing revenue. This also means there’s an opportunity for the city to maximize it’s potential and look into providing retail opportunists that are more attractive to both visitors and locals.

Taking Action

When you’re looking at action steps for maximizing your city’s potential, Retail Attractions’ founder Rickey Hayes says that, at minimum, every community needs to:

  • Improve the city’s cosmetic appearance to put your “best foot forward.”
  • Stay up with the times by looking at available technology and implementing what the city can afford.
  • Understand the population living within the city limits and trade area. Know their income levels, occupations, education levels, age distribution, cultural backgrounds, and housing profile.
  • Collect development-related data that is current and relevant, including information on sales tax growth, building permits, traffic counts, etc.
  • Look at the city’s development process and make changes as needed to ensure it is as seamless and efficient as possible.
  • Develop an understanding of basic real estate principles, land values, confidentiality issues and development criteria.
  • Learn how to partner with a retailer or a developer and create an environment that fosters investment.

We Can Help

This list probably seems daunting, but you can take care of most items on here with one simple step: hire Retail Attractions. We have the expertise and experience necessary to help your city create and implement a vision for retail development.

Get reliable data on your city population and other factors influencing retail growth with our Demographic Data and Market Analysis. We provide the information you need to start planing a development project, and we’ll help you interpret the data so you can come up with realistic, innovative plans. Interested developers will also want this information, and they’ll appreciate that you had a trusted third party compile the demographics.

We’ll guide your city through four Strategic Planning steps. With our help, you’ll establish a clear vision statement that will guide your city’s growth, identify critical issues that impact the city’s overall health, determine key stakeholders’ responsibilities in addressing these critical issues, and develop a multi-year strategic plan for the city. To get started, click here and contact us.

Cities and Social Media

Posted by Rickey Hayes on September 7, 2011 in Blog | 1 Comment

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

In the August 17, 2011, business section of the Tulsa World there is an interesting article. The article states that Taco Bueno recently decided to locate a store in Glenpool. That much is true. The article says that the demographics and location played a minor role, and that the driving force for the site selection was a Facebook page where Glenpool citizens voiced their appetite for Bueno’s food. Now I’m not saying that the Facebook page didn’t have an effect on the decision, it surely did. Readers of the Tulsa World should learn that social media is a powerful force. But make no mistake about it, the social media page will never replace the market dynamics and premium sales potential that Taco Bueno will enjoy on this site. In any restaurant or retail site it is always all about the bottom line. Two years of hard work and a dynamic effort by the City of Glenpool administration, consultants, brokers, and developers as well as Taco Bueno’s renowned real estate department should be factored in as well.

That being said, can social media be used by communities as a tool in recruiting retail? ABSOLUTELY! Cities should take advantage of any and all available means to market themselves to the watching world. The use of technology in every form helps a local entity share it’s attributes to those inquiring minds who are looking at the community as a place to live, work, get an education, and as we have already seen, looking to locate retail and restaurant sites.

In this economy, where every new retail deal will be scrutinized by the developer, the broker, the banker, and in house real estate department of the end user, cities should take the lead in providing accurate and dependable information on the strengths of the local market. We have proven that retailers and restaurants that tend to pass over generic city and chamber propaganda will listen to an independent, qualified, third party professional like Retail Attractions. And if the community is using Facebook to broadcast it’s retail potential, so much the better!

Let Retail Attractions help your community. We have helped dozens of local communities in several states see and change reality. Our firm can help you cast a vision and set a course for a thriving community where people want to live, work, shop and dine. Contact us today to make a seemingly overwhelming task more manageable.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.

A Wal-Mart For Every Town?

Posted by Rickey Hayes on March 10, 2011 in Blog | No Comments

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

It is official. Wal-Mart now has a store model that will fit every city, town and corner in the United States. According to building permits obtained by Bloomberg News, Wal-Mart is finally moving forward with their closely guarded secret, the Express store concept.

Construction on the 14,400 square foot store in Gentry, Arkansas, a town of 3,158 only 20 miles from the company’s headquarters, will begin on March 16. The company has also released that there will be 2 more Arkansas cities graced with an Express with construction starting in the next couple of week, and rumor has it that an existing 10,000 square foot building in a Chicago suburb is being built out as the first urban Wal-Mart Express. So what does this mean to your community?

If you are a community that has already been smiled upon by the Wal-Mart gods, you could care less. However, if you are a community that has been looked at as a potential site but just not quite made the cut: this is good news.

There are traditionally 3 formats for Wal-Mart stores:

  • Supercenter: 185,000 square feet
  • Discount stores: 108,000 square feet
  • Neighborhood Markets: 42,000 square feet

And now introducing (drum roll, please):

  • Express: 14,400 square feet

The Express will feature groceries, a pharmacy, three or four checkout counters and 75 parking spaces. They are expected to have about 12 aisles and include fresh produce, frozen food items, refrigerated food items as well as general merchandise. Wal-Mart plans to open as many as 40 units this year in rural and urban areas, and executives said to expect the first Express store to open as early as May. There are thousands of opportunities across the US for this model. All you need is leakage and 5 acres!

Retail Attractions has worked with Wal-Mart real estate and our development contacts in several of our client communities and has insight into what they need to see, hear and feel to make the decision to locate in a new community. If you would like to locate a Wal-Mart or a Wal-Mart Express in your community, we can help. Give us a call at (918) 376-6707 or contact us to put us to work for your community.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.

Effective Property Marketing

Posted by Rickey Hayes on November 1, 2010 in Blog | No Comments

The following article was posted in ICSC’s online weekly magazine.  The article clearly defines why communities and land owners need to get away from generic demographic information and the run of the mill property descriptions and hire a professional to market their communities. Every community has a unique story, every market has its own quirks that make it desirable with today’s specialty or niche retailers and restaurants. Retail Attractions, LLC can help you to effectively market your property. We can help:


October 29th, 2010
Vol. 15 No. 43

Tell a story if you want to land that lease, conference told

In this market so favorable to tenants, a leasing agent is likely to find the job to be as much art as science. “It’s less like deal making and more like selling,” said Joe Rando, president of Trade Area Systems, at ICSC’s Pathway to the Future conference. “You need verified data with context and insight.”

John Breitinger, vice president of retail investments and development at United Properties, said he sometimes has to function as an assistant to his leasing team. One key part of the firm’s strategy is to offer potential tenants more than the basic information about the property and market under consideration. “Get away from the standard marketing package to create differentiation,” he said. “Most leasing materials include a site plan, an aerial and some bullets of information. They should include market potential, competitive environment and an explanation of why there’s an opportunity here.”

Use as much data as possible from various sources, but be sure to verify the maps and statistics yourself, said Rando. “There’s not one commercial data service that won’t embarrass you at some point or another,” he said. Breitinger said United Properties usually hires a consultant to study a property before sending the leasing team into the field to verify.

The agents grade the properties they tour and then discuss the scores, said Breitinger. “You need to do the work you can’t do from a desk,” he said. “Touch every vacancy, look at every new deal – the tour provides a clear-eyed assessment of the relative value of these properties.”

Above all, agents can seal the deal by telling a story, he said. “Emotion wins over facts, so give them a context. Get the credibility to advise and not broker. Capture the details. Our guys carry digital cameras all the time now. Words, photos, numbers – what is your value proposition and how do you explain it?”

It is necessary to give the team proper incentive, said Breitinger, especially when a center is almost fully leased and brokers tend to shift their attention to other properties. “The cash flow that comes from that final few points of vacancy is very important,” he said. “You may have to offer them more reward for the final lease-up.”

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.