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Richard Layman

Urban Planner
commercial district revitalization planner
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  • Posted on: 07/18/2018

    Will Kroger’s new app make customers healthier than those who shop at rivals?

    My first professional job was for a nutrition policy advocacy group. The information-driven are but a small segment of the food and health market. One of my responsibilities was managing a nutrition software analysis program. I had the idea to build it into a platform, but was ahead of my time (things like licensing cookbooks, etc.) and it was the wrong environment to expect my advocate bosses to understand and accept. That being said, while I think this comment is insightful, like "Amazon Prime," this product could be developed into a broader health/food/nutrition platform as well, with broader connections into nutrition and health, links with RDs (Kroger isn't known for this, unlike Hy-Vee, ShopRite, Martin's, etc.), "nudge" type programs with regard to weight loss, etc. For example, it could be linked to pharmacy and medication adherence, dealing with food-related chronic conditions like diabetes, etc. It has the potential to be brilliant were it to move to that kind of environment. That being said, I think Kroger has lots of what I call "stranded best practice" that doesn't seem to be gathered up into structured best practice and incorporated across their banners. (With some exceptions, like the Marketplace format.) FWIW, recently I tried Turkey Hill vanilla frozen yogurt and it's awesome.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Kroger shakes up own-brand fashion with one fell swoop

    I've only been to a Smith's Marketplace (and Fred Meyer), not any "marketplace" stores for other banners. Does a Ralph's Marketplace even exist? Anyway, a Kroger Marketplace is no different than a Fred Meyer, Meijer, Walmart Supercenter or Target. Since I believe mostly that the marketplace format is a way to discourage Walmart and Target from opening stores nearby, it would make sense that Kroger realizes that in the ever-competitive marketplace, they need to do more to make their marketplace format more distinctive and special and a destination.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2018

    WeWork doubles down on member-based retailing

    ... and the initiative to source regionally produced products at an Ace Hardware affiliate focusing on urban markets in DC and Baltimore.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2018

    WeWork doubles down on member-based retailing

    Hmmm, reminds me of the Smarter Image stores. They were cool. But I never bought anything.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    Is excess space behind retail’s shrink and customer experience problems?

  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    Convenience is king as new-gen vending units add meal kits

    Very good point. Likely these are the venues that are most likely, in the long run, to be successful. If convenience is king, profitability is the emperor.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    Convenience is king as new-gen vending units add meal kits

    Yes, I neglected to make this point. A few sites will be great places from which to do this, because they'll have the right demographics to support high volume use. Most sites won't. It's why I don't think the "Bodega" vending machine has a lot of legs ... cf. Juicero, the $700 machine that squeezed specially prepared juice packets.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    Convenience is king as new-gen vending units add meal kits

    Agreed. But this is more complicated than Dunkin' Donuts or 7-Eleven serving their stores from "depots" that produce baked items, or "fresh food" deliveries to a CVS by jobbers. Plus most of the machines aren't likely to generate huge volume, making the machines that much harder to service. I see it as an interesting idea and concept that gets a lot of play, but very hard to make work successfully in practice.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Who will fill the retailing void left by Toys ‘R’ Us?

    Probably a small segment of the TRU consumer base will shift to independent retailers, but not a significant number. TRU is about volume, discounting, the toy supermarket. People aren't going there for the quality of the experience, as they would to an independent toy retailer. Walmart and Target are best positioned to be able to step in, if they want to. Grocery stores, I can't see it at all, except for the companies like Kroger and HEB, which have formats that add GM goods to some of their stores (besides Fred Meyer, Kroger has the Marketplace format, and HEB has something similar). I suppose if Giant-Eagle can link up with ACE Hardware, someone could create a toy store equivalent.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Can food halls become retail’s new anchors?

    Agreed. Point #1: People eat every day. They don't buy other retail goods every day. So just like various general merchandise stores added food (Target, Walmart, etc.), it makes sense for shopping districts to up their game and add food to promote shopping frequency. This article is weakened by not including examples from the West Coast, although since they opened awhile ago, the articles aren't current unlike the other cites. Orange County, California has a number of food halls, integrated with specialty retail. OC Mix for example is one such. I guess you'd call it an example of what the Philadelphia Inquirer recently termed "lifestyling" (a newer iteration of lifestyle centers). Anyway it rocks, although sadly the specialty food service equipment store on the site closed a year or two ago. Shops renamed as The OC Mix TRADE, an open air Irvine food hall, celebrates its grand opening Saturday Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market: Food hall guide and tips on must-try dishes In short, this will be an upscale retail + food initiative. Food halls aren't likely to have much traction in underperforming retail assets, although can be used to reposition underperforming retail assets that are located in strong real estate markets. OC Mix is one example of the latter. Point #2: big shopping centers have never been great at selling groceries. This has been the case for decades. So that means these operations will tend towards prepared foods with a smattering of specialty items in little markets that people can take home at the end of their meal. They won't be buying much in the way of frozen items, etc.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Will electric vehicles prove a bane or a boon for c-stores and energy drinks?

    Yep, it's different in Europe because they take sustainability much more seriously. The likelihood of the US forcing changes towards electric cars -- like significantly increasing gasoline excises taxes, which in Europe are between $4 and $5 per gallon -- is unlikely here. Were that to change, then choices people make about fuel sources for their cars would change.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Will electric vehicles prove a bane or a boon for c-stores and energy drinks?

    Because Norway is ahead of the curve in promoting electric vehicles, Couche Tard is testing various approaches to dealing with the impact of e-vehicles on convenience stores. Couche-Tard looks to Norway for guidance to adapt to electric cars Gas Stations Get Ready for the Electric Future Couche-Tard Takes Major Step on EV Charging Front in Europe
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Retailers must unite to bring dying downtowns back to life

    Most commercial property owners expect retailers to pay for the privilege of activating their space, but that is changing some. And some larger companies are even becoming more hospitable to independents, recognizing that uniqueness is valuable. The Philadelphia Inquirer had an article on this topic recently which was quite interesting, "How Bryn Mawr Village found its Main Line shopping niche."
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Retailers must unite to bring dying downtowns back to life

    Boulder's advantage is that it is a college town. Burlington VT and Charlottesville VA also have similar, reasonably successful downtown malls. They have lots of residents proximate and many of them don't drive. But at the same time, Boulder is a great example because they don't leave stuff to change. The mall is very much managed. This article from the 12/20/2005 issue of the Longmont CO Times-Call is quite instructive: "Still one-of-a-kind: Pearl Street Mall remains jewel in Boulder’s crown" but you'll have to access it from your local library's article database.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2018

    Retailers must unite to bring dying downtowns back to life

    DC charges 5x the normal rate for vacant properties, but it's easy to get around it if you are a commercial property owner, just put up a for lease sign, but blow off all the queries. Other cities, like Toronto, stupidly reduce rates for empty properties, instead of charging more.
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