Posts Tagged ‘retail’

An Education in Retail

Posted by    |    October 12th, 2010 at 11:48 am

When you hear the word “recession,” do you go “la la la la” and put your fingers in your ears in an attempt to block out the sound?  Yeah, me too.  But some things just can’t be ignored, especially by industries that have been hardest hit.

Take the retail industry, for example.  The last three years have been brutal – to sales, to store openings, to general industry morale.  But never an industry to get down for long, retail is forging ahead bravely and thoughtfully.

I recently had the opportunity to get inside the brains of some of the top retailers in the country and learn how they are facing today’s economy and serving today’s consumers at the annual Retailing Summit hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University.  This year’s theme was “The Evolving Consumer: emerging issues and future outlooks.”

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Lower Rents = More Yarn

Posted by    |    September 17th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

One of the best things about being in the retail real estate business is watching the ever-changing face of the retail landscape.  The past few years have been difficult at best as retailers pull back on expansion plans and shopping centers experience growing vacancy.  Nobody likes to see empty windows in shopping centers.

Growing vacancies typically mean lower lease rates as landlords strive to fill their spaces.

There is an upside to this trend, however.  Now that rates are more affordable, more mom-and-pops can take advantage of retail space they might not have been able to afford in the past.  More independent retailers means more cosumer choice and more unique merchandise.

One of my favorite examples of a new independent retailer opening in Dallas is Holley’s Yarn Shoppe.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a prolific knitter.  Like I tell my friends, “If I’m sittin’, I’m knittin’.”  Sadly, I am addicted to all things yarn.

Dallas knitters and crocheters don’t have very many yarn shops from which to choose.  Typical road trips include The Woolie Ewe in Plano or The Shabby Sheep in downtown Dallas.  But, hallelujah, now we have a yarn shop located right in the middle at which to feed our addiction.

Holley’s is a bright, friendly haven for yarn lovers located at the northeast corner of Inwood Road and Forest Lane.  The shop faces the Tollway – you can’t miss the bright yellow sign.

During my inaugural trip to the store, the ladies on the staff were enthusiastic and encouraged us to just c’mon in and pet the yarn. (more…)

Happy shoppers both north and south

Posted by    |    September 14th, 2010 at 10:18 am

Due to a couple of recent retail developments, I predict some smiling shoppers both north and south of the LBJ loop.

First, Old Navy has just signed a lease for its first new store in the entire United States in over two years.  The site is also Old Navy’s first location ever inside the loop.  The company will open a two-level, 23,326 square foot flagship space at the Shops at Park Lane located at the southeast corner of Park Lane and U.S. 75.

Shops at Park Lane

Second, Urban Outfitters just signed a lease for its first store north of the loop.  The 9,550 square foot lease at The Shops at Legacy is the company’s third store in Dallas/Fort Worth.  The store is scheduled to open in the fall of 2010.

Good news for Dallas, good news for these retailers, and great news for shoppers north and south who have been awaiting these concepts.

Shops at Legacy

Riding the Retail Railroad

Posted by    |    August 13th, 2010 at 8:23 am

The Jewish immigrants who landed at the Port of Galveston ended up in Dallas at some point.  Are you wondering why they chose to leave the lovely coastal town of Galveston for landlocked Dallas?  It was the railroad.

In the 1870s, Dallas was still a relatively small city with little connection to the outside world.  The city’s growth had stalled with no easy way in for those wishing to relocate. 

However, in 1872, Dallas got just what it needed to finally experience explosive growth.  On July 7 of that year, the last tracks of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad opened for business.  And on July 16, “the first excursion train stopped at a spot located approximately where Pacific Avenue crosses under Central Expressway today.  A crowd made up almost entirely of men celebrated with a barbecue feast of roasted buffalo.”  (Mike McAllister, Hidden History of Dallas).

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The Long Road to Retail

Posted by    |    August 11th, 2010 at 8:33 pm

The Jewish immigrants who wrote some of the most important retail stories in Dallas history (Neiman Marcus, Sanger Harris, Volks Brothers) took root in North Texas via varied routes of entry.  Until the early 1900s, nearly all Jewish immigrants began their U.S. journey by sailing into Northeastern ports.  Beginning in 1907, however, Galveston became their main port of entry.  But why the switch from the traditional ports of entry to a port thousands of miles to the south?  The Galveston Movement, of course!

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Dallas Truly is the “Shopping Center”

Posted by    |    August 9th, 2010 at 11:33 am

If you were ever in doubt that the city of Dallas gave birth to retail in the United States, doubt no more!  Did you know that Dallas is the home of the very first planned shopping center in the country?  Moving on from the concentration of retail department stores located in downtown buildings, area developers were coming up with new ways to bring retail to the masses.

Highland Park Village (HPV), which received its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2008, was conceived by Edgar Flippen and Hugh Prather in 1928 and opened in 1931.  According to the designation record:

“…Highland Park Shopping Village represents a pivotal point in the evolution of the shopping center as a distinctive building type in 20th century American architecture.”

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The Shopper’s Architect

Posted by    |    August 6th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

The great retail department stores of downtown Dallas had much more in common than their Jewish founders and luxurious merchandise.  Some of the most iconic and innovative buildings in downtown Dallas were all designed by the same architect.

George Leighton Dahl is known as the brains behind the design of the Neiman-Marcus Building (1927, 1618 Main St.); the Titche-Goettinger Building (1929, 1900 Elm St.); the Volk Brothers Buildings (1930); the Mayfair Department Store (1947, 141 Elm St.); and Philipson’s Fashions (1949, Elm at St. Paul).  He even designed 32 stores for Sears Roebuck.

Dahl was an adaptive architect.  According to the Handbook of Texas Online, “In contrast to contemporaries O’Neil Ford and Howard R. Meyer, who developed their own unique styles, Dahl, as critic David Dillon noted, remained a stylistic chameleon who produced works to suit the needs and tastes of his clients.”

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First-Hand Account: Priceless

Posted by    |    August 5th, 2010 at 9:46 am

So we now know about the European immigration that brought retail to Texas.  Let’s look a little closer at the roots of retailing in Dallas by exploring the history of one of the first major merchants to set up shop downtown.

Emanual Meyer Kahn (dba E.M. Kahn’s) was born in 1849 in Alsace-Lorraine, France.  According to the publication Pioneer Jewish Texans, he arrived by ship in Georgia and began working as a merchant.  From Georgia he moved on to Mississippi and then Dallas.

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Merchants Yes, But Leaders Too

Posted by    |    August 3rd, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I ran across a great article from D Magazine called “The Jews Who Built Dallas.”  The article details the Jewish professionals who came to Dallas and became a major influence on its economy and culture.  And many of our aforementioned merchants are discussed in the article as great leaders and businessmen of the time.

For example, The article calls Alex Sanger (of Sanger Brothers/Sanger Harris) “the most powerful merchant in Dallas in 1899 and an important player in the Jewish Community.”

Alex Sanger

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But where did it all begin?

Posted by    |    July 31st, 2010 at 11:40 am

Jewish immigrants at the port of Galveston

If we focus only on the history of Dallas retail from a Dallas perspective, we are blasting right past the fascinating roots of retail in Texas and, more broadly, the United States.

Many of the iconic pioneers of  Dallas retailing, after all, were not natives of Texas or even America. They were born in Europe to immigrant parents and only became part of the fabric of Dallas retail after years of living and working in different parts of the state and country.

It is interesting to note that some of the most well-known and influential Dallas retailing families were of Jewish descent.  The Marcus, Sanger, Hrris, Linz, Kahn and Volk families belonged to a group of Jewish merchants active in the cultural, economic, and political development of Dallas.

According to materials gathered and published in the Handbook of Texas Online (Handbook), “Jews have been part of the warp and woof of the Lone Star State since the period of Spanish Texas.”

Prior to 1821, Texas was a Spanish colony “where only Catholics could take up residence.”  If you were an openly practicing Jew, you could not legally live in the state.  But the earliest Jewish immigrants to Texas soon planted roots in places like the Brazos River (Samual Isaacks) and East Texas (N. Adolphus Sterne), and by 1838, outposts including Velasco, Bolivar, San Antonio, Galveston, Goliad and Nacogdoches were home to many early Texas Jews.

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