REAL ESTATE

5Qs for Jeremy Gershonowicz on store design and construction

BY Al Urbanski

Detroit-based Sachse Construction lives on the cutting edge of the new era in retail, executing projects from one-of-a-kind brand showcases to redesigns for the likes of Crate & Barrel, Under Armour, Warby Parker, and its hometown Shinola brand. The company recently hosted the sixth annual Sachse Retail Summit on store design. We talked to the director of retail construction Jeremy Gershonowicz to find out what we missed.

What is the Sachse Retail Summit and why was it created?
It all started in Detroit, and this year’s was in New York, but the same principles applied. We bring together retailers, architects, owners, and reps to talk about best practices and we have our design partners discussing the latest trends. This year’s roundtables were of a high caliber due to the presence of New York architects.

What were some of the key topics bandied about in the roundtables?
There was a lot of talk about the downsizing trend and the 360-degree experience. How long you can keep customers in a store and provide them a great experience? How do you provide an experience attuned to a local marketplace? How do you make better use of the back of the house?

Tom Lewand of Shinola was a keynote speaker and provided insight about the growth of his company. What did he share about the brand’s rise to national prominence?
Tom put a strong focus on authenticity and staying true to your brand’s founding principles, in Shinola’s case; design, quality, and American craftsmanship. Another interesting insight from Tom was to listen to your long-term customer base if you’re looking to try a new location, store concept, or product.

Keynoter Rachelle Hruska MacPherson of Lingua Franca shared her experiences about building a company from the ground up. Key points?
Rachel said the most visible and talked-about brands aren’t just selling a product. They go beyond that by giving back to their communities and donating to charity, being committed to sustainability through ingredients and packaging, or taking a stance on the values they believe in as a company. She also believes strongly in growing organically. Brands shouldn’t look to be an overnight sensation, but invest their time, money and energy in their loyal customer base.

As construction professionals, were there any surprising insights or discussions you heard that might affect the way you approach working with retailers?
More so than ever, retailers are focused on diversity, accessibility, and environmental issues. We have to be partners with them in addressing these important issues.

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