What Katherine Boccaccio has is better than a crystal ball for retail development, and she's not afraid to drop names.
Boccaccio, senior editor of Chain Store Age magazine, shared the results of an extensive survey and gave us the lowdown on who's coming to Oklahoma and who's not at the International Council of Shopping Centers Idea Exchange last week, attended by 200 people in the retail real estate industry.
Her publication's research department spent 34 days surveying retailers and compiled results from the 159 companies who responded. Then, Boccaccio conducted one-on-one interviews with 71 national retailers to get an even better feel for how national chains feel about Oklahoma. It's possible she knows more about our market now than folks here do.
Can't stand the suspense? Here are a couple of quickies. Coach Men â€” yes. Trader Joe's â€” yes. Neiman Marcus â€” nope. Stuart Weitzman â€” not a chance. H&M â€” maybe.
None of these deals are set in stone, but Boccaccio has a lot to back up her comments.
According to the survey, of the retailers not currently in Oklahoma, less than 20 percent plan to enter the state. For those that don't have stores here and don't plan to open any, the most common reason was they aren't expanding to this part of the country. Others said they have limited expansion plans and Oklahoma didn't make the cut, or they aren't expanding anywhere right now.
However, those that are doing business here had positive comments like our strong economy, low unemployment, proximity to Dallas (many retailers follow a Texas-to-Oklahoma expansion progression), our large middle-income population and our new outlet mall.
Her report is long and detailed, but I'll share some of the highlights.
Clothing & accessories
Coach Men is coming to The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City, filling the final storefront in Phase 2, Boccaccio says, but there has been no official announcement.
Neiman Marcus hasn't been successful in the Midwest and is steering clear of Oklahoma.
Nordstrom says it has no plans to come here (but Nordstrom Rack did file for a building permit at Belle Isle Boulevard recently.)
Von Maur, an Iowa-based department store similar to Nordstrom, is expanding and President Jim von Maur has even visited Oklahoma to evaluate potential sites. The retailer found opportunities in Oklahoma City and Edmond and hopes to open by 2014.
Charming Charlie is growing. Based in Houston, the retailer has no stores here but says Oklahoma is at the top of its list and is actively looking for sites here.
If Brooks Brothers decides to take a close look at Oklahoma, it would look at downtown Oklahoma City with a flagship store â€œto make a big splash.â€
Brooks Brothers' only store is at the outlet mall.
REI is moving closer, with its first Kansas store opening in the fall of 2013. The outdoor retailer says it only opens five to eight stores per year so it will take time, but Oklahoma is on the radar.
H&M will open 275 stores globally this year, including one in Austin, its seventh in Texas. The clothing retailer says its target markets are the West, Southwest, Southeast and South Central U.S. so it could make its way here soon.
Sprouts Farmers Market, which recently merged with Sunflower Farmers Market, is signing leases in Tulsa and Bixby, adding two more stores to our state. Already, there are stores in Edmond and Oklahoma City, and a Norman location is expected to open next year.
The Fresh Market, another specialty grocery store, entered our market this summer with a store in Tulsa. No additional locations are planned.
Trader Joe's is picking up the pace with expansion this year, with plans to open 30 stores a year. It just introduced its brand to Texas, so it's ripe for expansion into Oklahoma.
Whole Foods is adding a store at 91st and Yale in Tulsa â€” its third in the state â€” and is looking to expand in smaller, secondary markets around the country, so there is potential for more announcements here.
Beverages & more!, or â€œBevMo!,â€ an alcoholic beverages chain, said it can't do business here because of the state's liquor laws.
Same story with Costco, which has 600 locations around the globe but none in Oklahoma. Company Chairman Jeff Brotman emailed Boccaccio a â€œfrowny faceâ€ when asked to comment on Oklahoma.
Panera Bread announced aggressive expansion plans to open 115-120 locations in the U.S. and Canada this year. It's also looking at branching out from its typical suburban locations into urban areas. A local franchisee has plans to open a Panera Bread near downtown, a free-standing restaurant with a drive-thru. Other metro-area locations may be remodeled and retrofitted with a drive-thru.
Corner Bakery Cafe is â€œvery interestedâ€ in Oklahoma but a franchise deal fell through and the retailer is looking for a new franchisee.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop says Oklahoma's density â€œis a little lightâ€ and has no plans to open here.
Sur La Table, an upscale kitchen chain, is targeting New York, Chicago, Atlanta and California for expansion right now but expects to take a look at Tulsa and Oklahoma City in three to five years.
The Container Store has been scouting sites here but apparently has yet to find the perfect location.