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.