Friday, September 3, 2021

The Gorilla Goes Brick

Amazon, always at the cutting edge of, you know, selling things to people, has recently come up with an amazing idea: they’re opening a number of relatively large physical locations in which shoppers can come and experience a range of products, from clothing to housewares to books to appliances and electronics, live and in person, all under one roof. Brilliant! Revolutionary! Perhaps they could arrange these stores by departments, to make it easy for shoppers. But what could they call them?

All kidding aside, Amazon, often blamed as the destroyer of department stores, has announced yet another in a long line of significant moves into the realm of brick-and-mortar retail. The first of these as-yet-unnamed Amazon department stores will reportedly open in California and Ohio, to be followed at some point by a national roll-out (see Accelerating news on Page 2.)

Back in 2013 in this publication, we ran one of several commentaries about e-commerce and the possible death knell of brick-and-mortar retail stores. This one included the graphic you see here,

depicting Amazon as a category-killing 900 lb. gorilla, crushing brick-and-mortar stores of all kinds as it reaped online retail dollars. At that time there was serious question about the ongoing survival of retail stores. Large traditional department stores were downsizing drastically as traffic and sales dropped. Whole chains disappeared (remember Borders, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...). Flash way forward, and while much of what we worried about then has come to pass, and things have certainly shaken out to a degree, the world of brick-and-mortar retail did not end. In fact,  that world is being revitalized by e-tailers like The Gorilla, which has committed to a veritable array of physical stores.

As you may be aware, Amazon now encompasses well over 600 retail locations, including its 500+ Whole Foods stores, but also including 26 Amazon Go stores, 23 Amazon Books stores, 31 Amazon 4-Star locations, 11 Amazon Fresh stores, several pop-ups, and a host of Amazon Locker and Pick-up locations. They’re even experimenting with an Amazon Salon location in the UK. 

Furthermore, given the degree to which a battalion of other formerly online-only retailers have followed suit, things look promising. Take a short walk through any local mall (such as the one I took earlier today) and you’ll encounter online-to-physical merchants such as Warby Parker (145+ stores), Casper (67+ stores), Untuckit, ThredUp, ThinkGeek,  Bonobos, Boll & Branch, ModCloth, Rent The Runway, and many more. These companies are learning to cultivate customers through a variety of channels, including live hands-on shopping.

They have to do so. The Pandemic made us all ask, will the huge rise in Covid-era online sales finally kill stores, and will people return to shop? Now post (or, at least nearly post) Pandemic, it appears that they will and they have, and while online shopping chugs along nicely, physical  stores are opening at a brisk pace (look at our News stories in this publication and compare the number in the Accelerating section to those in the Decelerating section - especially restaurants, about which perhaps a later commentary). 

Of course the point of all this is that its no longer either/or, but that retailers and e-tailers of many types, including Amazon, are learning that their businesses don’t have to be one thing, and that there’s a significant desire among shoppers to visit a physical store, particularly in a world in which more people than ever before have, at the same time, both fully embraced online shopping and learned the need for and value of the vital, in-person experience of visiting a physical store.

Amazon should benefit from their history and wealth of knowledge about what should sell, and they certainly should benefit from years of observing the missteps of traditional department stores. As a dedicated in-store shopper, and an inveterate Amazon Prime customer, I’m looking forward to strolling through the various departments of Amazons new stores - live and in person.

Chris Cardoni, Marketing Manager


New Business: VP of Leasing/Tenant Rep Don Mace negotiated a new lease for Apple Cinemas, a flagship location at Warwick Mall, Warwick RI, and a lease that secures four locations for Apple Cinemas to replace Cinemagic in Saco and Westbrook ME and in Hooksett and Merrimack NH. Apple Cinemas also opened two new locations in Hartford, CT…Jonathan Aron, VP of Investment Sales, represented the buyer in the purchase of 1122 Burnside Ave., East Hartford CT, and the purchase of 9 Central Street, Wellesley MA, and KPP represented the seller and procured the buyer for West Central Plaza, Franklin MA. Total sales value for all three transactions was app. $10M. Jonathan also represented the seller and procured the buyer of 2-20 Tremont Street, a fully-leased storeblock with 5.600 s/f of retail storefronts in the middle of Oak Square in Brighton, MA ,for $2.5 million.


Retail sales fell a seasonal adjusted 1.1% in July, the Commerce Department said. Spending fell at clothing, furniture and sporting goods  stores. At restaurant and bars, spending rose nearly 2%, but the rate of growth has slowed from recent months. The Commerce Department reported that even online sales have started to stall, falling 3.1% from the month before. UPS said it’s shipping fewer packages in the US, and Amazon said online sales grew 13% in its most recent quarter, the smallest quarterly sales growth in two years.. See sales reports below.


Bob’s Discount Furniture is opening two new locations, in Ann Arbor, MN, Dover DE…Eco-friendly footwear company Rothy’s has opened a store in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. It’s the brand’s sixth brick-and-mortar site and joins locations in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles...Apparel and accessories Salt Life will open stores in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Galveston, TX within the next couple of months. Plans are underway to open at least five additional retail locations in 2022...Bridgestone Retail Operations has opened 28 new stores in 16 states in the first half of 2021, and plans to open 27 additional stores by the end of this year. BSRO operates more than 2,200 US retail locations under the brands Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus, Hibdon Tires Plus, and Wheel Works…BP is taking full ownership of the Thorntons convenience-store chain after two and a half years as part owner. Once the transaction is complete, BP will become a leading convenience operator in the Midwest with 208 owned and operated locations across six states... Foxtrot, a chain of upscale, delivery-focused corner stores and caf├ęs, announced expansion that includes an 50 new US stores within the next two years. Foxtrot stores are already in the company’s hometown of Chicago, as well as Washington D.C. and Dallas, but will be coming to New York City, Austin, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and other cities in the near future. The chain currently operates 12 stores…Ross Stores opened 22 Ross Dress for Less and 8 dd’s Discounts stores across 11 different states in June and July, part of the company’s plan to add approximately 60 new stores during fiscal 2021. Ross currently operates 1,896 locations in 40 states. The store count includes 1,589 Ross Dress for Less stores and 285 dd’s Discounts stores...10-location Thai restaurant chain Rooster & Rice aims to sign 3 new franchisees and open 1 new location in 2021 with the goal of 15 locations in 2022…Dave’s Hot Chicken has signed 13 new franchisees for 154 units, bringing its total to 35 operators and 420 units open or in development. This has expanded the brand’s presence into the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, with a goal of 600 units... Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc., expects to open seven new Company-owned or managed restaurants by the end of 2022. The group runs over 140 Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations worldwide…A&W has awarded eight new units and received commitment for 14 new restaurants for the year. A&W has more than 500 US units...Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels have formed Panera Brands, a platform of fast casual restaurants. The combined company will have nearly 4,000 locations...Dave’s Hot Chicken has a franchise agreement to open seven PA locations, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading and Wilkes-Barre…Party City plans to open 80 or 100 seasonal Halloween stores this year, compared to only 25 in 2020. By comparison, Party City had about 250 Halloween pop-ups in 2019...Ford’s Garage plans to expand nationally, adding 15 franchise locations by 2023, including restaurants in New York, Texas, Ohio and Kentucky. After that, owners hope to add 10 to 15 new franchises per year. Currently Ford’s Garage’s has 16 locations…Schlotzsky’s has signed more than 75 deals in 2021 to develop new restaurants in New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and other target markets across the US. The agreements put Schlotzsky’s on track to sign 100 restaurant deals in 2021. Schlotzsky’s has 329 restaurant locations in 24 states…Chicken Salad Chick opened 17 new locations in the first half of 2021, and opened its 200th location this summer, in LaGrange, GA. The company has projected 40 openings for 2021... Amazon is planning to open 30,000 s/f locations similar to small department stores, with the first expected to open in California and Ohio. Other brick-and-mortar retail moves Amazon has made in recent years include its cashierless convenience format, Amazon Go, Amazon Go Grocery, Amazon Fresh grocery stores, and Amazon 4-star. Amazon opened its 18th Amazon Fresh store in Chevy Chase, MD, the first in Maryland and third in the greater Washington, DC area…Toys “R” Us entered into a partnership for branded in-store shops in more than 400 Macy’s stores in 2022. The Toys “R” Us shops at Macy’s will be branded with the retailer’s iconic elements, including the Giraffe…Jack in the Box has awarded 16 franchise development agreements year-to-date through the end of Q3 of Fiscal Year 2021 to build 64 new locations in Arizona, California, Idaho, Texas, and Utah…David’s Bridal announced today the opening of its newest location in Naperville, IL. Additional locations will be opening in 2021 in CA, Fl and more. The company currently operates 300+ stores...BJ’s Wholesale Club opened new locations in metro Detroit and Pensacola, Fl. Clubs are expected to open later this year in Port Charlotte, FL, Commack, NY; Lansing, MN and two units in Pittsburgh. The club expects to open as many as 10 new sites in 2022. BJ’s is also adding gas stations to new and existing units, with nine new stations expected to open this year, bringing gas to about three-quarters of its 222 clubs...Trader Joe’s has opened in South Bend, IN, the fourth in the state. Two new locations will open this month in TN, and one in NY. Trader Joe’s  has 500 stores in 40 states…Target will nearly triple the number of Disney shops within its stores to more than 160 locations by the end of the year...Urban Outfitters will open approximately 26 new stores and close 11 stores over the second half of the year... Dollar General plans to open 1,050 new stores in fiscal 2021, along with 1,750 store remodels, and 100 store relocations…Ace Hardware opened 110 new stores so far in 2021, and is planning to open at least an additional 60 locations by the end of the year... Fat Brands, owner of Fatburger and Johnny Rockets, will acquire casual dining chain Twin Peaks from Garnett Station Partners for $300 million. Twin Peaks operates 82 locations and expects to open another six by the end of the year, with 18 more under development. The casual dining chain will give Fat Brands a total of 2,100 restaurants, most of which are franchised...Five Below opened 34 stores during the most recent quarter, bringing its new store count for the first half of the year to a record 102 new stores. It ended the quarter with a total of 1,121 stores in 39 states, and hope to grow to 2,500 stores nationwide... Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii announced of four new franchise partners who will open 10 new cafes in TX, VA, CA, and MN.


 Disney will be closing almost 60 Disney Stores across the country. This is the latest round of closings with about 40 stores closing in the first wave. After the final store scheduled to close shuts down, only about 24 stores will remain.


 Starbucks will open its first-ever location in Malden, MA this fall at Exchange 200, a mixed-use building across from the Malden Center MBTA Station… New American restaurant Alchemy opened at MarketStreet Lynnfield...Dick’s Sporting Goods has redesigned its Golf Galaxy store at Shoppers World, in Framingham, MA and will reopen this month under a new banner: Golf Galaxy Performance Center. The space offers golfers of all skill levels an immersive experience...Russo’s produce and specialty grocery store in Watertown is closing for good after 100 years. ..Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has won approval for a location at 305 Mishawum Road, Woburn, MA...The Garrison House restaurant will open in mid-September at 6 Harvard Square in Brookline in space formerly occupied by Magnolia Smokehouse... Torrington Properties has acquired the 15-acre Newington Park Shopping Center in Newington, NH for $13.3 million from Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc.


Shake Shack opened at the Burlington (MA) Mall... Construction equipment clawed away at the walls of the Greendale Mall in Worcester, MA this month, the first step in the transformation of the site into an Amazon distribution center, due to open by fall 2022...Bally’s Corporation signed an agreement to develop and run a “mini-casino” in the vacated Macy’s location at the Nittany Mall in State College. PA. The proposed casino will offer 750 slot machines, 30 table games, and sports betting along with a restaurant, bar and a multi-outlet quick-serve food and beverage area...The Festival Companies has purchased the former Macy’s parcel contiguous to its Simi Valley Town Center, about halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. This acquisition gives Festival control of the entire town center site—comprising 600,000 s/f. of retail space--as well as ownership of the anchor property situated at the gateway of the development. Retail will continue to play a major role in the space, including outparcel restaurants and anchor stores.



Notes: figures gathered from individual company websites, press releases, and Federal filings.  Not all companies report all figures; results not reported will be marked “n/r”. Quarterly results will be updated when available; quarterly figures are shown in italics. Figures from companies not calculated to one decimal point automatically received an ending digit of 0. 


 Retail sales fell a seasonal adjusted 1.1% in July, the Commerce Department said.  Excluding autos, retail sales are down 0.4%.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce -



Treasury Yield Sources:;


 The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® was relatively unchanged in July, following gains in each of the prior five months. The Index now stands at 129.1 (1985=100), up from 128.9 in June.

Source: The Conference Board -


The July Manufacturing PMI® registered 59.5 percent, a decrease of 1.1 percentage points from the June reading of 60.6 percent.

Source: Institute for Supply Management - Manufacturing Report on Business -