To: Joseph Sitt, President & CEO of Thor Equities

Dear Joseph,

Retail, as you know, is going through a tumultuous time. While many older brands that fell asleep at the wheel are struggling and realigning their retail footprint, there is a new crop of digitally-native brands that are only just dipping their toes into the water to open up physical stores.

However, while these two trends are not happening at the same pace—traditional brands and retailers are adjusting strategies and closing stores faster than young brands are expanding—it doesn’t have to be this way.

When it comes to many young brands, however, their staying power is a big concern. Will they actually become great brands or are they just more flashes in the pan? While Thor sits in a unique position to help these modern brands figure out retail, the precarious fortitude of young brands is especially risky for Thor. Leases are serious contracts and both parties can get into the red when things go wrong. For brands thinking about or already building out their retail footprints, it’s crucial that they know how to drive foot traffic, and then sales, to their stores. If you can help them with this process, you can fill up your properties with the healthiest emerging tenants in the process.

Here’s one idea about how to do it:

Give away free rent to hold a foot traffic and sales contest.  

Take a few of your properties in New York that are currently vacant and hold a foot traffic and sales contest in them. You could take a 5,000-square-foot space and split it up for about five brands, giving them free rent in exchange for a percent of sales and all of the knowledge you will gain by working with them. This would create a low barrier to entry for the brands, which would only need to pay for their build out and maintenance. Then, they would have more funds to expedite the process of testing the power of physical retail. With multiple brands in the same location, this constant would make the contest reputable.

This contest has a few important benefits:

  • It encourages brands to focus on generating traffic and sales: They can put their digital marketing skills to use, which you can learn from, and in turn, you can teach them about how to run a successful retail business.
  • This contest would surely garner a lot of attention, boosting Thor’s brand among potential tenants and positioning you as a trusted partner for future brands’ expansion. Companies like Warby Parker and Bonobos have opened up stores at a rapid clip—more than 50 each in the past few years—and taking a more active role in the process can integrate you in the growth story with other expanding brands.
  • It will keep your properties occupied while allowing you to learn from the brands that are occupying them, rather than just having the properties sit there, collecting dust.

Retail is not doomed, but succeeding in the offline world will require a lot of hard work, creative thinking and compromises in the coming years. You have a unique position to take the lead on all three.

This is just one idea among many others that could put Thor in a league of its own as the trusted partner for new retail expansion. Let me know if you’d like to hear more.

Richie Siegel
Founder and CEO
Loose Threads