Thoughts on the passing of retail legend Tom Stemberg
On Oct. 23, America lost one of its greatest retailing entrepreneurs, Tom Stemberg, who invented the office superstore industry close to 30 years ago. Tom, a Boston resident was a grocery executive early in his career. He came up with the idea of a supermarket for office products after driving around looking for a typewriter ribbon. He then founded Staples, now a $22 billion worldwide company.
Tom was only 66 when he died. But, as with many people, it is not how long they live but what they accomplished during their time here. I met Tom over 20 years ago and it was a privilege to serve under his leadership.
I went on many trips with Tom visiting potential locations. He paid a great attention to detail and after visiting stores, he would email his notes to colleagues asking them to follow-up on a variety of things. Out-of-stocks and poor customer engagement annoyed him.
Tom had a great way of dealing with people of all backgrounds and took pride in seeing his associates do well. Hiring the right people was part of his successful formula since he knew that numbers and money follow rather than lead. Tom was a tremendous leader, a brilliant retailer and worked tirelessly, even after being diagnosed with cancer two years ago.
Tom, who supported numerous charities and loved Harvard basketball (his alma mater), was a great inspiration to many. His passion for business was contagious. As much as I saw his genius, I loved Tom as a person.
While Tom’s success would allow him the ability to buy expensive personal belongings and vacation homes, that wasn’t Tom. He wanted to just be one of the guys, nothing special. Yet anyone who knew Tom, recognized that he was extraordinarily special and loyal to his friends.
Tom’s love of people encouraged him to suggest health insurance to his friend, then Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Who would think that a Republican would think that way, but “Romneycare” became successful before “Obamacare”.
After Tom left Staples close to 10 years ago, he became a managing partner with Highland Consumer and helped several other small companies grow. Not everything Tom touched was successful, but like the great entrepreneur and leader he was, he didn’t give up easily, even battling a horrible illness. Tom taught us to raise the bar, to push the envelope, to respond with urgency, to find a better way, to avoid making excuses, to be caring with people and that by doing right we win.
Tom left a great legacy at Staples and for many other retailers. He taught us by example so we could all be better at what we do.
Tom was a wonderful leader, mentor and friend who will be greatly missed by many, but his work will continue since he taught us all so well.
Noal Solomon is director of real estate for Staples.
Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls welcomes new retailers
Macerich announces the recent arrival of several retailers to Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls located in Niagara Falls, New York. New brands include Victoria’s Secret, Kipling, Columbia Sportswear, Mountain Warehouse and Calvin Klein Underwear.
Niagara Falls recent expansion brings the property size to more than 700,000 sq. ft. with a total of 200 stores and 1,100 additional parking spaces near Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH – making Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls one of the largest outlet malls in the country.
Tanger Outlets begins construction of a new outlet center
Tanger Outlets announced it has acquired land in Daytona Beach, Florida and plans in to immediately commence construction of its new outlet center development. When complete, the new center will beapproximately350,000 sq. ft. of retail space and feature over 80 upscale brand name and designer outlet retailers.
"We look forward to delivering a world class shopping experience to residents and visitors of the iconic Daytona Beach area," said Steven B. Tanger, President and CEO of Tanger Outlets. "The exciting retailers that will be featured at the center will be announced as we get closer to our grand opening date.This new Tanger Outlet Center will bring jobs and add tax revenue to the region."
The new center will be located at the southeast quadrant of I-95 and LPGA Boulevard, adjacent to the main entrance of the Ladies Professional Golf Association corporate headquarters and golf course.The site is approximately 2.5 miles north of Daytona Speedway and approximately 6 miles from the beaches of Volusia County.The center is expected to open in time for the 2016 holiday shopping season and to create more than 400 jobs during the construction phase.Once the center opens it is expected to generate over 900 full and part-time jobs and to drive over $8.8 million in tax revenue annually.