Category Archives: Culture

Retail Trends for 2022 and Beyond

As the Christmas shopping season continues and New Year’s is not far behind, our thoughts turn to the what’s next.  What is the future of retail?  The question is still on everyone’s mind and no one has answered it adequately.  That’s because we are not fortunetellers, but we try very hard to predict the future, in spite of our shortcomings.

This week I listened to a podcast from Dana Telsey, a retail expert I greatly admire.  She always says things that I think, “Gee, I wish I had said that, and so eloquently.”  She talked about the three Ps in understanding and predicting change in the retail marketplace:

  1. Process
  2. Purpose
  3. Profit

I keep thinking about these words and continue to develop insights that are essential for an understanding of the future of retail.  Try it. Just think about the words and the application to your particular product, location, experience or store.  You will find you are a brilliant prognosticator!

Just for fun, I came up with my own “10 Trends for Retail” that are practical and may help you plan.  They are as follows:

  1. Consolidations, bankruptcies and other market adjustments will continue until retail product, market supply and demand are equalized.  They are good for the industry as a whole, however painful they may be for affected entities.  The U.S. had too much unproductive space before the pandemic.
  2. E-commerce and omni-channel selling of goods and services will continue.  These formats work hand in hand with stores.  They supply avenues to sell more goods!  In this realm, the consumer is king.  They have spoken loudly about their preference for convenience and choice. Things like BOPIS, curbside pickup, warehousing and other trends will continue because they are popular and help sell.
  3. Retail THEATER and EXPERENTIAL RETAIL will drive successful locations.  It is time we stopped being lazy about our shopping experiences.
  4. Great locations will continue to thrive.  A-mall location will evolve into even more mixed-use destinations.
  5. The opportunity for development and deepening of our outdoor/lifestyle formats has never been stronger. We must recognize and acknowledge the essential change in post-pandemic behavior.  Consumers require more space indoors and have a preference for being outdoors if possible.
  6. Discounters and “Dollar” stores provide the biggest growth opportunity currently.  This is not permanent. These types of retailers always thrive in a recession.  (Yes, we are in a recession!)
  7. Cause and purpose are missions to always keep in mind in retail.  Millennials prefer products that offer some good to the world.
  8. “Value” is another concept to understand and build into your mission.  It does not mean cheap; it means giving the consumer something she treasurers as she shops.
  9. Exurban and suburban locations supply the best opportunities for growth.  Keep this in mind as you develop and expand.
  10. Shifting demographics and the concomitant shifts in Process, Purpose and Profit will drive retail development.

Keep these prognostications in mind as you move along with your day, today and tomorrow.  Here’s hoping they will help you bring joy and success to you!


Are We Ready to be Happy Again?!

Yesterday, I woke up happy.  It was raining and my husband was at work, so I was alone in the morning, as usual.  My room looked the same – pretty gray walls, pictures of family all around, and my beautiful nude painting on the east wall. 

I didn’t notice I was happy right away, and I don’t think anything monumental happened.  I just woke up with a sense of optimism.  I gotta say, it’s been a while since the sun has shone on our world.  And yet in the past few weeks, my world has peeked over the horizon to show a glimmer of normalcy. I think that may have happened with many of you, if I’m reading our situation correctly.

“It’s gonna be OK”, that’s what we’re feeling.  We missed so many things in the past 18 months.  What have we missed the most?  Probably contact and just simple in-person visiting with friends and family.  I’m guessing this is a bit like what solitary confinement feels like, where you get accustomed to a lower level of stimulation, of human interaction.  We are an amazing species.  We are meant to survive, under any and all circumstances.  We are a hopeful breed. We keep on keeping on, today and tomorrow.

Simple pleasures.  Feeling free.  Not caring if a passerby brushes against you.  Leaving the house with no fear.  Smiling at a stranger on the street.  Shopping!!!  Dinner with friends.  Lunch at Neiman Marcus (well, maybe that one’s not so simple!).  And taking Ricky to help out with children and other people who need a lift. 

Ricky at Horse Rescue at the Grove

The holidays are upon us.  The stores are already dressed up for Christmas, all gold and red and green.  They are sparkling and shining and welcoming!  This year, we will have 8 weeks of Christmas, and it couldn’t come at a better time.  The sun is rising over the horizon and the year of the winter solstice may be over. The economy is improving; the jobs report was good this month; Americans are ready to share their generosity at the holidays and the Pandemic seems to be a bit better.  We’re getting back to (the new) normal!

Let us know how you are doing. We always love hearing from you!


And the Oscar Goes to………

Yesterday was the experience of a lifetime. I was privileged to attend one of several days of pre-opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (AMMP).

But as they say in the movies, here is the backstory.

In 2005, I received a call from the museum coordinator, the only paid employee at the time, to provide a proposal for a feasibility study for a new museum. I had been involved with the feasibility/concept development for the Dolby (Academy) Theater at Hollywood and Highland several years before, so luckily I was on the radar.

When the Academy decided to finally move ahead with the century long museum planning, I got a call. “Can you help us out with the market research and financial feasibility testing of our museum? We don’t know what it is, where it is, or size, but still, can you help us? All we know is that we want it to be the boldest statement ever made on the history and effect of film!” It was the luckiest call of my life!

The director at the time was a brilliant woman, an entertainment business expert and a published fiction writer. She made the job that much more stimulating and creative! We worked with her on many teams hired (many then fired) to provide concept development, site location analysis, market research, and financial feasibility testing.

In all, we did 15 different analyses of multiple sites, configurations, sizes, square footages, models, retail, dining, and ancillary spaces within the museum. First question, “Should it be in Hollywood?” YES of course. You don’t need an expensive consultant to tell you that!

Please note, the museum is not located in Hollywood, because of about a thousand different reasons.

We first looked at the surrounding area of the Academy Library just north of Sunset and Vine, proximate to the Cinerama Dome Theater (closed for now, went out of business). In terms of the macro considerations, and what the world thinks they understand about Hollywood, that is one of the top 5 locations. And for the first five years of this process, that was the site we tested, studied, analyzed, and then amassed the real estate around the site to provide sufficient space for the new museum. This process was ongoing, before we even knew requisite square footage based on market capture, annual attendance, design day attendance and parking needed.

Remember, this is Southern California. No one is going anywhere without their car. It may be changing a bit now because of environmental concerns and traffic, but Angelenos are still in love with their vehicles.

That was the first of many sites studied because of careful planning, management by committee, and economic circumstances, (which included booms and busts, the Bernie Madoff catastrophe with lots of Hollywood money lost), and change in leadership. All in all, the museum cost over $500 million including all the planning efforts, development and hard/soft costs. Not the most expensive museum in the United States, but one of them.

Some of the planning sessions and meetings were lifechanging. I got into an argument with Jon Landis over projected attendance. I got tongue tied in a meeting with Tom Hanks.

One of the earliest concepts, which I believe I came up with in concert with the gentleman who was head of the Hollywood/Highland project, was the “Red Carpet “ or “Oscar” experience, a chance for everyday folks to experience what it is like to walk the red carpet and then win an Oscar. I came from a show business family. I was enamored with the process from the first ceremony I remember watching. It was always an event at my house, with canapés and a hush over the living room when the awards were presented! I always dreamed of going to the Academy Awards.

And my dream came true this week!


I’ve Fallen in Love Again!

It’s been a long, hot, dry, summer recently.  Seems hard to get excited about much.  But I finally found my inspiration last month when I discovered this place.

“This place” is a brand-new horse rescue operation just a few minutes from my home in Napa County, a nascent operation I visited a few weeks ago to see how I could help.  I am a horse lover.  The smell of manure makes me happy, brings me home.  You see, as a child I fell in love with horses, rode many times a week beginning when I was 7 years old.  I rode a breed called American Saddle Bred and they are considered “hot,” which means they like to act sorta silly and bucky.  Probably from inbreeding.  Anyway, I took lessons and got thrown maybe twice a month, landing on my ass or a few times on my head.  But it didn’t matter.  I loved it, lived for it.  So as a grownup, and with the kids grown and grandkids close, but not my responsibility, I find I have more free time on my hands.

And magically, my stars have aligned!  Horse Rescue at the Grove ( is a 501 C3 nonprofit, home of horses that have been abused by their owners, many entering the facility malnourished and depressed.  The equine fellas and gals at the rescues operation now are beautiful and while they may have some PTSD, most are really sweet and thankful for food, exercise and attention/petting. They are now available for adoption with donations going to monthly upkeep and care for the wards.

After I met with the proprietress, Antonella a few times, I realized that my role here would not be mucking stalls, although I would do that.  What I saw immediately was that I could put my business development skills to work here.  It’s what I do, helping new businesses develop plans to realize their goals.  In this case, the operation really needs pre-development funding to improve the facility, to secure donations to support the rescues (that now number 7), and to craft a plan to become financially sustainable.  It’s what I do, what I’ve done for the last 30 years.

The mission of the organization is to provide a loving home and safe haven for abused horses.  But besides caring for the horses, a program for at-risk and abused children to ride and care for the horses is also provided.

Plans for the future include raising capital to buy and develop a bigger and better ranch, add space for more horses, offer a summer day camp for local at-risk youth, and become financially self-sufficient though donations and earned revenue.

Let us know if /how you lost and found your passion/inspiration.  Or what you’re doing to make yourself feel better in these extremely trying times!

The Best Job I Ever Had


Yesterday on the ABC television network, the entire day was devoted to programming of the Academy Awards.  This is always one of the most coveted days of the year for me, having grown up in the entertainment business and living in Beverly Hills.  I love the stories and the glitz and glamour.  The dresses!!  The hair, the make-up, the shoes! 

This year is especially exciting since the Academy Museum is opening, honoring the legend and legacy of Hollywood films.  I am completely humbled and honored to have conducted the market and financial feasibility study for the museum, as it underwent many twists and turns on its road to being born.  This is a re-blog of an article I wrote in 2018 and I think it is appropriate today.

“About 16 years ago, I got a call from a perspective client, a newly hired director from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, asking if I would be interested in conducting some market research for a new attraction/museum themed on the Academy Awards.  Would I?!?!  I had been the one lucky enough to do the work for the Dolby Theater at Hollywood & Highland where the ceremony takes place, so it seemed a good fit and logical that I continue on to do the museum feasibility.  But my joy, my heart, for Hollywood, no one knew that!  My family had always been in the entertainment business, with my father tangentially involved on the business side, having been a pioneer in the cable television industry.   And my aunt was always working for this or that movie star as an executive assistant.  I was lucky enough to visit the backlot of 20th Century Fox before it was Century City!  I spent countless hours watching movies being filmed, then sitting in theaters watching them roll by me on the big screen. 

Would I be interested?  Heck, yea!!

Since that time, I have been the consultant called upon to do the background market research, analysis and financial projections for the site selection, sizing and operation of museum.  I learned a thing or two during those years.  I gained a deep knowledge of large museums and what keeps them thriving; I learned how an endowment can shrink during a deflation; I learned that money earmarked to never-be-touched has a way of disappearing in hard times.  And I learned about the conundrum of keeping things fresh so that resident visitors will keep returning time and again.  I am thankful that my job always changes and that I always learn, no matter the engagement.

Over the years, we have wrestled with all the issues associated with new development including disagreements about what it should look like, what its mission should be, where it should be sited, who is its targeted audience (please don’t say everyone!), and what’s the best way to keep the project on-time and on-budget.  To be clear, these issues are complex and are made more difficult when there are many masters to serve.  Still, when the project is to reflect the points of view, hopes, dreams, and legacies of America’s most important cultural export, cinema, careful consideration must be given to each one. “

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll – All Over Again!

Last week’s Sunday New York Times reported that as more adults over 50 are vaccinated, and as new rules from the CDC emerge, the renaissance of Boomers leisure-fun times are loosening prohibitions in social behavior.

This market segment is still huge!  Currently, approximately 74 million Americans make up the Boomer category, (57 to 75 years), which is approximately 22% of the U.S. population:

Age Range  Population
55-59 21.9
60-64 20.6
65-69 17.5
70-74 14
Total 74.o
Source:  U. S. Census Bureau, Statistica & JB Research Company

Many Boomers are still affluent.  According to the most current U.S. Census, “Current Population Census 2020,” households in the 55 to 64 group earn $91,687 annually.  This compares to the national median of $86,631. 

Age Range Median Household Income
45-54 $105,047
55-64 $91,687
65-74 $74,71
U.S. Overall $86,631
Source: U. S. Census Bureau 2020, Current Population Census and JB Research Company

Further, Boomers as a whole are the top earners among United States households.  They own 53.2% ($59.96 trillion) of US wealth.  That’s twice the $28.5 trillion that Gen X holds and 10 times more than Millennials, who hold just 4.6% ($5.19 trillion) of US wealth, as reported by Bloomberg, citing recent Federal Reserve data.

Now, with almost 50% of Americans 65 and over fully vaccinated, older Americans are traveling, attending parties, going to bars and hosting dinner parties.  They are sitting by their swimming pools with friends, drinking fruity cocktails and premium wine, and exploring the world once again. 

Besides foretelling what’s to come when all Americans who wish to get a vaccine have received one, this party-hearty attitude could signal a roaring 20-ish kind of atmosphere for the foreseeable future.  Airline travel is up; retail sales and nonfarm payrolls increased by 379,000 workers in February; and the unemployment rate was 6.2%. Most of the hiring came in the hospitality sector, which saw 355,000 new jobs.  This segment is roaring back!   The national Retail Federation predicts that 2021 retail sales – excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants – will grow between 6.5% and 8.2% over 2020 to between $4.3 trillion and $4.4 trillion. That could top 2020’s growth of 6.7% (despite the pandemic), which broke the previous record of 6.3% set in 2004. 

My husband and I are fully vaccinated.  We have seen our grandkids a bunch of times now including visiting poolside on a family vacation. 


Encouraging News From Some of Our Favorite Brick and Mortar Shops

Although these are challenging times for bricks and mortar retail, some are thriving.  To put this into context, essential and off-price retailers tend to thrive in a downtown.  But we want to highlight a few outside these categories.

We aren’t doing too bad in 2021.   Despite record sales drops in most retail categories except essential and off-price goods, U.S. retailers have announced 3,199 store openings and 2,548 closures, according to Coresight Research.  In 2019, retailers announced 4,548 openings, up from 3,747 in 2018. So far, in 2021, openings are already tracking to top each year prior.

Some retailers expanding currently include:

  • Aldi: The German discount grocer is expanding with 100 new U.S. stores in 2021, Locations are primarily  located in Arizona, Florida, California and the Northeast.
  • American Eagle Outfitters: The young Millennial retailer continues to focus on its intimates brand, Aerie, and plans to expand from about 350 stores to approximately 400 locations by the end of this year. In total 500 to 600 Aerie stores are anticipated by 2023.
  • Fabletics: The activewear fashion brand founded by Kate Hudson disclosed that it will open 24 new stores in 2021, expanding its brick-and-mortar presence to 74 U.S. locations by year-end.
  • Five Below: The tween and teen retailer remains one of several  specialty retailers expanding on brick-and-mortar units. Five Below plans to open 175 new stores in 2021, up from 120 last year, and will enter two new states — Utah and New Mexico — as its footprint expands to 40 states. The company ended the year with more than 1, 050 stores.
  • Lidl: Lidl US is expanding along the East Coast. The German grocer plans to open 50 new stores by the end of 2021, with locations in Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.
  • Sephora: In the largest store expansion plan in its  history the global beauty giant will open more than 60 freestanding stores.  The brand will also open 200 shop-in-shop locations in Kohl’s stores this year. 
  • Sprouts Farmers Market: The organic grocer is planning 20 stores this year, including 10 in the California.
  • Target: The brand announced it is accelerating new store openings, with 30 to 40 stores in the next couple of years. It also expects to enlarge its store remodel program this year and complete approximately 150 in time for the holidays 2021. It plans to remodel more than 200 stores a year beginning in 2022. 
  • Ulta Beauty: The beauty giant’s plans for this year include 40 new stores  and 21 remodels or relocations.

While these expansions may not save the industry, we are happy just to have a few bright spots on our retail horizon.  So let’s not call 2021 the demise of retail.  A wait and see attitude may bring more plans for expansion and new formats in out-of-home experiences. 

I for one will be hitting the pavement hard as soon as safety is declared!!

When Will We Be Back?

When will the economy open up?  When will we get out of our homes?  When can we go back to work?  When can we visit my kids?  When will we be normal again?

These are the questions that are on all of our minds as we continue to go crazy and try to adapt to these new circumstances.  As a research analyst trying to predict consumer trends, lately I just throw up my hands and say, “What the &$!#%?  I have no idea!”

What to do?  We ask the audience, our big database online.  Morning Consult does a great job of surveying a panel of consumers and gets the data out fast, almost in real time.  This week, they’ve updated the consumer sentiment panel regarding when certain groups will be comfortable going to several types of facilities and events.  The latest surveys show big differences between political leanings.  I don’t know about you, but that makes no sense to me.  Facts are facts, right?

Share of U.S. adults by political party  who said they’d feel comfortable doing the following activities right now. Activities are ordered by the share of all adults who said they’d feel comfortable doing them in the initial poll.

In the latest update to tracking data on consumers’ comfort levels returning to certain activities during the pandemic, the gap in comfort between Millennials and Baby Boomers has begun to reopen for some activities, including going to gyms, amusement parks and concerts.

Still, less than a quarter of adults will be comfortable doing many leisure activities.  This will gradually improve as time passes and a new vaccine is available.

When will you feel comfortable going out to eat? Or to a movie?  Or shopping?  Let us know.  We always like your input!




Nimble, Responsive, Proactive, Creative, Woke!

I am not in any way discounting the dangerous and dire straights we are in these days with the global pandemic and how it is affecting our health and economy.  But it occurred to me when I was not doing anything this weekend (which happens a lot these days) that we are a nation of innovators, and that most of the tech innovations and discovers came from the U. S.  If ever there was a time to “think outside the box” (why do we use that expression?  Why don’t we think outside the parallelogram or the rhombus?) it is now.

Businesses are closing down by the hundreds.  How to fix this?  What can we do?  And just as I was musing/obsessing about this, we drove by a billboard on the 101 in San Francisco for Salesforces’ new product “”.  Full disclosure, my son works for Salesforce, so I am not completely objective, but my thought was “that’s brilliant”, is described as “providing all the latest thinking, models, advice and all new solutions.” Some of the things you can do with the new system are quoted as follows:

  • Get products to support your return to the workplace
  • Find thought leadership content from renowned experts
  • Access all the latest COVID-19 data
  • Learn through inspiring stories
  • Extend with guidance from our ecosystem

Brilliant!  A solution, instead of a worry or obsession.  I began to look for other exciting new solutions to our current state and I found another.  The whole movie industry has been turned on its head, with the closure of cinemas.  New releases and summer blockbusters, so important to viewership at theaters, are being scheduled for first run on television private services.  One proactive solution, the reemergence of drive-in theaters!  Anyone over 30 remembers going to the drive in first with your parents when you were a kid, and then with your friends as you got older and were able to drive.  I remember getting in the trunk at the drive-in gate, with some of my friends, so we didn’t have to pay as much.  Morning Consult provides an amazing array of data on topics important to all of us.  Their entertainment sector report this morning presented data from another completely nimble solution, the return of the drive-in movie theater.

This gorgeous picture is an aerial drone view of a temporary drive-in movie theater at the Rose Bowl stadium, known for its spectacular Fourth of July fireworks which were canceled this year to reduce large public gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns. The latest polling of 2000 adults over 18 in the United States shows the following fascinating results:

Results indicate that the majority of Americans (55%) are interested in returning to the theater in a safe fashion.  The bravest is Gen Z, (aged 10 to 25 years of age) including 66 percent of Gen Z adults. Adding to the potential draw of the drive-in is that audiences are 12 percentage points more likely to be comfortable with watching a film outdoors than inside, according to separate Morning Consult polling.

Drive-in or picnic style movies are simple to set-up and earn revenue on food and beverage.  Some drive-ins have even tried offering upscale sandwiches, picnic baskets, small-batch microbrewery beers, and designer wine brands curated by a sommelier.

For commercial real estate owners, business is not good right now.  But what if we thought new:  Let’s host art shows, turn our parking lots into drive-ins (Walmart is doing this!), offer our locations for COVID testing!  Let’s have a “can do” attitude and turn around our dire situation right now! Maybe we can even give our clients and customers something to smile about!

Let me know what you’re doing creatively in your spare time.  We always love to hear from you and right now, nothing is more important than sharing ideas and innovations!

And Just Like that……Everything Changes!

These days, my blog just seems to write itself. Experiences and new ways of accomplishing almost everything, from washing clothes to shopping, are the norm. But as humans, it takes an exceptionally long time to change our ways so that all our new activities feel stiff and unfamiliar. Take for example, shopping, my passion! Here in Napa County, we are in Phase Two A of the process. That means many retail locations can reopen, except ones that involve person-to-person contact like salons, nail parlors, gyms, and spas.

About a week ago, my husband and I went to the University of California San Francisco hospital, where he had a follow-up appointment for a recent health scare. Since no one is allowed in the hospital other than the patient, I had to occupy myself with walking around nearby.

UCSF is in Mission Bay, as is the beautiful new Chase Center Warriors and concert arena. This venue opened in September 2019 at a cost of half a billion dollars. Besides the 18,000-seat arena, the project boasts 580,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. Additionally, a new light rail system connecting the arena to downtown is also proposed, at a cost of $1.0 billion. The MANICA designed arena opened with a Metallica concert playing to a sold-out crowd.

Huge investment full of vision and promise. A community gathering space that would be alive at least 250 nights each year. The one and only first-class arena for concerts in San Francisco. A new space for artists to add to their tour routes! We attended the Sara Bareilles concert in January and though the house was set in the concert-configuration at 10,000-capacity, it seemed like we were onstage with her.

Here is what it looks like now:

Eerie. A boarded-up ghost town cordoned off to all seeking to visit. The many restaurants were either not yet operational when the Pandemic began or closed now because of it. A special favorite of Northern Californians is Gotts, a local hamburger and milk shake joint that now offers sushi and other fancy stuff. I almost cried when I saw this:


How could this happen? Who could have predicted this devastating blow to a brand-new entertainment venue in one of the best entertainment regions in the world?

And just like that, everything changed again! Last week, stores were allowed to open in Napa County, where I live. I was thrilled. It was advertised that the Napa Premium Outlets were not yet open, but that the Vacaville Premium Outlets were (both Simon Properties). I drove the 35 minutes to the Outlets and was greeted by a very spotty opening sequence. Most stores were still closed, and signs disclosed they would be open next week or the week after. The few stores that were open look like this:

One or two customers in each shop.  The stock was plentiful because it has been sitting in a warehouse for two or three months, awaiting opening of the stores . I felt particularly sorry for a new William Sonoma Factory store that just opened for the first time, with no customers in its beautiful store:

I have PTSD from trying to keep up with the world. It’s like when you have your first baby, or worse yet, your second baby, and just when you think you have it nailed, their behavior changes, they start sleeping less or more; they don’t like the food today that they loved yesterday; they cry endlessly for no reason, and you want to run away. But of course, you don’t, except for maybe a minute or two when you lock yourself in the bathroom and sob for, which is all the time you are allowed to yourself as a new parent. That is what I feel like today. I want certainty; I want routine; I want to get on a plane and go on my summer vacation; I want to see my grandbabies; I want to kiss my kids! I will just keep muddling along, as I imagine we all will. And I will keep writing blogs that someday may seem like the poetry you wrote when you were a stoned college kid.

What are you doing to stay sane? Share with us your tips for slogging through your days.