Pop Up Shop Story : Atomica Gallery looks forward

In a previous post, we shared the story of Finchittida Finch’sdf pop-up: a shop developed from scratch by a previously online-only business. This week we’re happy to introduce Atomica Gallery (@atomicagallery), one of the few truly pop-up art galleries which ran from December 4th – 24th this past holiday season. They’ve recently secured a long-term space in Hackney and we were eager to know what the journey has been like to go from pop-up to full shop.

We met up with Atomica Gallery founders Orla and Holly over coffee and brownies to hear more about what it is like to be a start-up gallery, and how the pop-up model has helped facilitate their goals and opened new doors. Holly is an experienced gallerist, working in both Sydney and Los Angeles with a number of the artists they currently show. And Orla’s background in promotion and events ensures that their openings generate a healthy buzz. Their penchant for the strange, retro, punk and pop combined in curious and lovely ways at their December pop-up. The relentless attention to detail both within the works themselves as well as their weird and simple curation proved that big explosions can be contained in small packages.

Orla and Holly came to their selected artists in an unconventional way, “Some of the artists we show have been close to us for a very long time. But we also love showcasing previously un-seen artists or those that may never have been shown in London before.” It was clear that a real challenge of curating a show with so many great artists to choose from – especially in a concise space – is the selection. For their pop-up, Holly and Orla printed out copies of all of their favorite artists’ work (hundreds!) and went through the process of whittling down to just a select few. But they are constantly on the hunt for yet-to-be-discovered artists in the UK and beyond, “We have a huge list of artists that we want to work with. We stumble across a lot of amazing artists through blogs and circumstance. So it’s not like we only want to work with established names, and we are always open to chance.”

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The Inside of Atomica Gallery’s Pop-up in Shoreditch

An Advisor at Hackney Business Enterprise encouraged Atomica to do pop-ups as a way to ‘test-trade.’ By launching a new project this way, fresh businesses are able to develop a strong sense of themselves and learn through experience without the risks and investment required for longer-term rentals. But sourcing a great space, for the short or long-term, is always a challenge.

Holly explained the difficulties they had locating and accessing the right spot for their pop-up, “When we were looking for our December pop-up space, it was really stressful. We thought of many potential places around East London initially, but as it was our first big showcase we wanted an area with high traffic, and that was already warm to the idea of a pop-up. Getting exposure and building a following was one of the most important things we hoped to achieve with our pop-up. Shoreditch seemed like an ideal part of town to get the kinds of visibility and interest we needed.” And so they set about with an unconventional campaign: dropping 1-page offers reading “We Would Like To Rent Your Shop,” into the mail slots of every suitable shop.

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Atomica’s Elegant Solution To Driving Footfall

Orla explained, “We got quite a few calls back, but a lot of people didn’t even know what a pop-up was, or else they expected that we would want the space over many months, and expected us to provide full fit-outs. A few weeks with minimal developments to the space was a hard sell. But we found a great place eventually.” While their pop-up was a success in terms of sales and exposure, their extensive list of artists and a growing catalogue of work meant that a longer-term space was in order.

Their new shop is part of a series of newly converted shop-spaces managed by Hackney Downs Studios. These new locations are playing host to a series of new businesses, from bikes to a bakery and all within 5 minutes from Kingsland Road – one of the busiest streets in the area. Their full-time shop will launch soon (stay tuned on the Atomica Gallery website), but future pop-ups are still a part of Orla and Holly’s future plans, “Because we’re off the beaten track in Hackney, it will give us a great opportunity to connect with a local audience. But we also want to make sure Atomica Gallery can travel to other parts of London and beyond. Some in West and South London, and we’re also thinking about Brighton. We haven’t confirmed anything yet, but doing a kind of tour would be great – a few days or weekends in new locations. We really want to make sure we have a chance to showcase our artists in places that wouldn’t see their work otherwise.”

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Atomica Gallery’s Founders: Orla and Holly

We asked where Atomica Gallery saw itself a few years down the line. Holly shared, “we have done this all on our own. We’re slightly in debt but it’s working. Our new shop is quite a small one. Our dream is to have two, so that we could have simultaneous projects on. The initial plan was to have ‘art for sale’ in one location seven days a week, and then a second with rotating exhibitions. We’re learning as we go. Every week is a learning experience. Anything can happen, really.”

We’re eager for their new shop to launch, and we’ll see you at the opening!

Follow Atomica Gallery on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
And sign up to their Newsletter for updates on their next event!

Welcome To The Future Of Retail – Part 3

In previous posts we have highlighted some of the recent changes to bricks-and-mortar landscape: increasing vacancy rates, reduced consumer spending and lower footfall.These trends are contributing to the rise of short-term “pop-up” retail both in the UK and internationally. However, We Are Pop Up also think this is the beginning of a structural change in the way we use space, rather than just an economic cycle which will fade in time.

Some of the social and technological forces that are changing consumer activity will have profound consequences for both shop space and brands, and offer a great opportunity for those that can capture the imagination of a new audience. For facts and figures about the Rise Of The Mobile Audience, see our overview here.

MAKING YOUR STORE YOUR STAGE


There are an increasing number of retailers seeking to enhance engagement, from Levi’s Craft Of Music campaign, to Westfield’s Future Fashion events, exciting fashion start-ups like TheEdit @wearetheco and the Vogue-sponsored Fashion Night Out across London’s West End. Even pure-play online retailers like Capital One or eBay are increasingly experimenting with physical spaces and pop-ups to build engagement.

It may seem obvious, but physical engagement with a brand or community or product is the core advantage that a ‘shop’ – or increasingly ‘pop-up’ – enjoys over an online experience.  Mobile computing is an agent in this physical to digital (or vise versa) journey.

The number of ways in which we can participate in a shopping experience is multiplying. We can share our experiences with our social media audience and are provided with digitally enhanced forms of service in-store. Just see how John Lewis bridges this gap with digital kiosks and incentives that cross platforms. For a new generation of retail, these steps are the key to engagement and profitable loyalty.

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Hot Tub Cinema – a traveling theater and hot tub experience in London.

How To Engage In The Digital Age

It is estimated that the Vogue Fashion Night Out, for instance, increased footfall across Bond Street by a remarkable 92% – and a recent conversation with Caireen Wackett at Yellow Door reminded me what Mary Portas said back in September 2011:

“The only way for bricks and mortar retailers to compete with online is brilliant real life shopping experiences. Retail is no longer about number of units on the shop floor – it’s about offering a playground for your customers. Throwing big exciting events is one way to draw a crowd – but I believe the High Street should invest in better experiences for their customers every day.”

Big exciting events – the “theatre” of the retail world – don’t scale particularly well on the marketing and PR budget line. But mobile is a channel that can deliver personalized and exciting engagement everyday (remembering the late Steve Jobs’ caveat to “start with the experience, then work back to the technology”). A solution that can combine someone’s recent search history and preferences, the time of day, a particular location or even the last thing they bought, opens up the potential for far more nuanced and meaningful business-to-consumer journeys.

This more nuanced engagement delivers a more ‘authentic’ experience that all parts of the retail spectrum are currently seeking; from a start-up’s first steps into retail – like those working with Pop Up Britain – or an online retailer taking seasonal space, and even fully fledged independents and brands. A new generation of retailers is thinking not only about what they can provide to augment our lives, but also what kind of self-contained experience might captivate us most meaningfully. This indicates an exciting move away from old advertising models that told us what we wanted, and instead is built around what we actually do and care about.

Deloit predicts that over the long-term we will see a significant downsizing of store portfolios:
“This will vary markedly depending on the retailer’s category but reductions by as much as 30-40% are foreseeable over the next 3-5 years.” However some retailers, notably Apple and Nike, have led the way by showing that brand only stores can deliver great customer experience and provide a physical corner-stone to their consumer engagement. As vacant retail space grows more and more flexible, it is only a matter of time before the capacity and liquidity problems in the market are resolved. We can imagine a platform where all retailers have the opportunity to create active digital communities around the physical in-store experience, however short-term or permanent their presence.

This is where We Are Pop Up can play a vital role – enabling great physical experiences, reducing transaction costs and making the process of having a shop as easy as paying for a product online using PayPal.

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Kellogg’s Ran A ‘Pay With A Tweet’ Campaign at a Soho, London shop in 2013

The CBRE (the world’s largest commercial real estate firm) observed that in the 1970’s, a retailer needed approximately 200 stores to access 50% of the UK’s population. Today it only needs 90 – sometimes less (assuming, of course, they are optimally located). Let us stretch the theatre analogy further to that of a traveling troupe – how many stores are required globally, over what locations and which time periods, to make sure a significant percentage of the world’s population enjoys your show?

I was recently asked to attended a meeting of the Small Business Statistics group at No. 10, hosted and chaired by Lord Young. The group was discussing the fragmentation of parts of the economy as an increasing amount of trade is transacted by e-commerce platforms like Ebay – and what challenges that this poses for measuring activity and productivity – in the first recession in living memory where unemployment has gone down! The conversations in the room were enthusiastic, and focused on new ways to transact and how to make the most of current market shifts.

Capturing mobile audiences represents an unparalleled opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers. From start-ups to independents to brands – those that embrace mobile platforms in an intelligent and timely manner have the chance to create and sustain real competitive advantage.

Perhaps with the rise of the mobile audience are we about to see the rise of mobile retail itself.


Further Reading

The Changing Face of Retail – Deloit

M-shopping: Final nail or final hope for the High Street? – Sponge

Other parts of our Future Of Retail installments


This post kicks off a weekly series where each of We Are Pop Up’s team members will take a turn applying their expertise to the concept of pop-up. This week features Alastair Moore – COO and Co-Founder of We Are Pop Up. You can ask him questions on Twitter @latticecut.

The Rise Of The Mobile Audience

Eric Schmidt of Google said, “If your company doesn’t have a mobile strategy, it doesn’t have a strategy.” This is a prescient observation but one that really rang true this year as London played host to the 2012 Olympic Games. Among the 430 million visits to Lonond2012.com, the 4.7 billion page views and 4.7 million social follows, the number that stands out is that 60% of this occurred from mobile devices. To visualise the growth rate of smart phone adoption and use, here’s a chart:

The Rise Of The Mobile Audience

Figure 1. Smartphone penetration per capita by country. Source: VisionMobile


If charts aren’t you’re thing, here’s a summary: The US and UK have the most engaged smart phone users, which comprise between 30% – 40% of people in either given country. In real numbers, over 150 million people in America and 24 million in the UK download roughly 20 apps-per-phone today. Some reports indicate that over half of UK residents now have smart-phones, which would make that 24 million closer to 35 million. The challenges of data accuracy aside, the point is that this rise in the mobile audience undoubtedly influences our retail spending behaviour. Online sales now represent around 12% of the UK’s annual retail spend. Research by Barclays Corporate in 2011 predicts that mobile will come to represent around 5% of retail spending in the UK by 2020. Between now and 2016, they predict compound annual growth of 55% for mobile-based commerce (mCommerce) vs 8% for eCommerce (shorthand for online sales) and just 1.6% for in-store sales. But the attention of new mobile audiences is still notoriously difficult to capture.

Around 80% of branded apps get less than 1,000 downloads – and its very far from the simple case of replacing the online desktop experience. To quote Matt Biddulph @mattb, co-founder of Doppler, “mobile gives everyone superpowers!” Its always with us, and there are signals, and more signals, AND MORE SIGNALS telling us about what’s happening in the world. We can see what’s around the corner in the same feed next to what’s happening in Mumbai. And with a couple clicks we can see both points on a map, and chart a journey via bus. Mobile allows us to see, find, explore, share and transact in ways that we simply couldn’t previously: faster, with better curation and with limitless connections to like-content.

More on this later, but anecdotally, this week heralded my first time paying at an US coffee shop where the only pos system was an iPad using Square! Mobile has arrived.

LIVING IN THE AGE OF ENGAGEMENT

In 2000, £50 out of every £100 we spent went to High Street retailers. Today, it’s just £42.50. But mobile isn’t about replacing a pound for a pound, and it is one of the “channels” by which customers and retailers engage. Deloitte estimate that for every £1 of purchases made via mobile, the channel will directly influence £23 of spend. The challenge is finding the best ways to influence a mobile audience.

I was inspired by a recent talk by Alex Meisl, co-founder of Sponge at the Mobile Academy about living in the “age of engagement”. I found the following statistics particularly engaging:

– 81% of smart-phone users search for local data

– 34% of US smart phone users have cancelled planned purchase in stores due to information they got from their mobile phone;

– 25% claim to intentionally carry a smart phone when shopping to compare prices and find information (an activity commonly referred to as “showrooming”);

– 46% say research conducted on their phone led them to make a specific purchase at specific store.

Where previously a retailer would have had us captive once we crossed the threshold of a shop, now they are in constant competition for our attention –  locally, nationally and globally – an observation that Simon Forster of Debenhams described in June 2012 as “effectively heralding the end of online versus in-store shopping”. It is not about which of those you are, but how soon you will be both – something that the UK’s 150k online-only retailers should take note of.

So what do people currently do on mobiles? Here is another chart. This one shows a recent breakdown of behaviours from Google:


Figure 2. User journeys from discovery to purchase. Source: thinkwithgoogle.com

Understanding this complicated journey of conversion is not only the key to understanding mobile – and channel conversion – its key to understanding the changing role of bricks-and-mortar.

Notice that 4 out of 6 journeys involve the physical store in relation to mobile. The temporal aspects of this engagement are also important, but not captured by the figure. For example, there is the immediacy of mobile, as Ashley Highfield @ashleyhi observers: “On average, the time difference between first search and purchase is one month on the web and one hour on mobile”.

However the main point is that the biggest opportunity lies in leveraging mobile AND the physical store AND online to shape the overall shopper journey.

The potential of journey and engagement was highlight at a presentation from Hellicar & Lewis  that I attended recently at WhiteLable’s Future Gallery. They gave some wonderful examples of how people are willing to interact with different digital installations to enhance the emotional and social aspects of engagement. And it is the role of social advocacy and endorsement that is critical to the journey of conversion.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon research shows that 83% of us won’t buy having been exposed to critical comments. But much more interestingly, their research also found that 75% of us are unlikely to buy if there are no reviews.

Only one journey in the figure above ends in an in-store sale – but bricks-and-mortar plays a critical role in creating a platform for engagement to support discovery.

This is part of an ongoing series on The Future Of Retail. You can read the continuation of this supporting data here.

Pop up shop interview: A Monozygotic Temple

We first met Tida and Lisa Finch via their entry for the BOXPARK Shoreditch “Free Pop-up Competition”. Their great photographs and unique jewelry were eye-catching at first sight. Now, about a month into their free winter pop-up, we paid Tida a visit at Finchittida Finch HQ. We are very pleased to (re)announce our pop-up shop interview:

Finchittida Finch at BOXPARK Shoreditch

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For all of us over here at We Are Pop Up HQ, it was very exciting to have a chance to spend some time with one of the very first businesses that we put into a shop. In support of the forward-thinking team at BOXPARK (@BOXPARK) we were able to give an excellent opportunity to a great brand. For Finchittida Finch (@FINCHITTIDA) Unit 7 at BOXPARK Shoreditch is the first physical space to host their line of jewelry and home wares. Tida happily shared her enthusiasm about their pop-up, so we started by discussing some of the best aspects of setting up a brand as a destination and what it’s like to be at BOXPARK.

Finchittida Finch seems to be right at home. Tida told us, “We love it, we feel like it’s our HQ. Being in Shoreditch is great and the East London line has just opened, so travel is easy.” And some of their online customers have come to visit as well, “when we had our launch party, a few customers came especially to meet us and check out our products in real life. It was really great to meet them. This shop has given us the opportunity to extend our brand and products to people who just walk by. And sharing BOXPARK’s newsletter announcements with our social media networks has been really valuable. BOXPARK has been supportive and quite a lot of people have come in from their announcements alone.”

Their winter pop-up, titled The Monozygotic Temple, has offered Finchittida Finch a new way of getting to know customers – by watching them relate and respond to their products in front of their eyes. By running the shop themselves, they have had the opportunity to answer questions, monitor their demographic and request customer feedback quickly.

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Even though they had cause to worry with the forecast of a post-Christmas slump, sales have been going well. Tida explained, “because our products are really affordable and unique it hasn’t been a problem. We have learned a lot from watching people in the shop; most are shocked at the massive [necklaces], and say  ’I love them but I couldn’t wear them.’ ” Nevertheless, the large works are intricate and beautiful, ideal for costume designers and those looking for a striking addition to their collection.

We asked whether the feedback had changed the production line at all, “It’s really important to keep the balance. The larger-scale products grab attention, but the smaller ones are affordable and fit with a variety of styles. We’ve learned a lot about how to balance our line and have realized that we need to offer a real range with every collection. This has been the kind of learning we couldn’t have achieved without being in a shop near our customers.”

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Tida and Lisa are a two person team, coordinating everything from the laser-cutting of their jewelry to promotion, as well as managing their social media accounts, running the shop, doing admin and providing customer service to both their online and offline customers. And they just recently graduated from university.

Keeping both an online and offline presence in harmony and thriving is something that even the most established and stable brands have trouble with. Tida’s solution for Finchittida Finch is to find great stockists in the UK and internationally that can help get their designs more widely distributed, while also using pop-ups to connect to new parts of London.

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“It’s been hard work, but absolutely worth it and introduced us to pop-ups. Before I never would have wanted to take a shop. But because of this opportunity, we’ve really got a taste for it.”

For us at We Are Pop Up, visualizing Finchittida Finch at BOXPARK didn’t take much effort. Their name alone was intriguing, their story unique, their products innovative and it is obvious that they care deeply about what they make – from design to development. We always feel fortunate for the opportunity to connect with the people behind an innovative brand that also manage to triumph an entrepreneurial spirit. Lisa and Tida are an inspiring duo – sticking to their roots and making their vision real.

You can find Finchittida Finch on their website, their blog, and the ASOS marketplace. And connect to them on Facebook and Twitter @FINCHITTIDA.

You can also read their December feature as one of BOXPARK’s X-mas staff pick features.

Welcome To The Future of Retail – Part Two

Examples of pop-up retail in the UK

1) Test marketing in Covent Garden, one of the UK’s most popular shopping destinations:

• Chanel: Launched a six-month boutique at the start of London 2012.

• Tom’s Shoes: US brand tests UK shop in Seven Dials.

• Private White VC: Manchester men’s brand opens second retail store.

2) Protecting/revitalising historic property:

• The Gin Garden showcases The National Trust’s Fenton House in Hampstead.

• The Midnight Apothecary highlights the Brunel Museum’s campaign to turn a historic vault from London’s Thames Tunnel into a concert hall.

3) Community economic development and social sustainability:

• StartUp Britain’s PopUp Britain is a scalable template for enabling local entrepreneurs.

4) Brick-and-mortar brand building:

• Independent watch company Uniform Wares moves from a featured spot at the Dezeen Watchstore shop to Uniform Wares brand shop for the London Design Festival.

• Corrections rehabilitation charity Fine Cell Work’s shop in Mayfair brings puts skilled-labour products into shopper’s hands.

 

Worldwide examples of pop-up retail

5) Marketing campaigns to deliver real-world, immersive consumer experiences:

• Bob Dylan ‘Tempest’ stores (London, Berlin, NYC, LA)

• Michael Chambon’s ‘Telegraph Avenue’ record shop (Oakland,   California)

• Mumford and Sons’ General Store (Sydney)

6) Small and large business alike achieve new levels of community and customer engagement:

• Odd Future x Colette (Paris)

• The Junkyard (Beirut)

• Puma Yard (London)

• Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop (Delhi)

7) In NYC, several campaigns are using pop-up shop concepts for social service delivery:

• Barbershop x Health centre in Harlem

• School registration centres

8) Pop-up hotels, “the most extreme example of the pop-up phenomenon” (Travel and Leisure), testing the boundaries of unique consumer experiences.

 AirBNB’s designer ‘Picks’

• Design Hotels Project: San Giorgio, Mykonos

• Nikki Beach and Target boutique hotels at the Toronto International Film Festival

Growing awareness of pop-up retail

Pop-up retail is receiving increasing amounts of press coverage as it moves into industry and mainstream consumer consciousness. Whilst major cities lead the way – like Berlin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco – there’s activity from Ayers Rock, Australia to Zurich, Switzerland. Further, there is heavy interest from the travel industry as pop-up destinations are often hyperlocal experience.

• Rise of the Pop-Up Shop – Travel and Leisure (October 2012)

• Pop-up Shops Go MainstreamWall Street Journal  (September 2012)

• New York’s 8 Best Food Trucks – Zagat (August 2012)

• World’s Best Pop Up Restaurants – American Express: Departures (July/August 2012)

• 10 of the best London pop-upsBritish Airways High Life (July 2012)

What’s Next?

We Are Pop Up has sparked interest from a variety of sources: from independent proprietors to multinational brands, and from local councils to NGOs and national government. The question is no longer if pop-up retail will emerge as a significant force, but when it will reshape the global retail industry.

Based on both the drivers mentioned in State of UK Retail, as well as the growing body of Examples, pop-up retail is gathering steam. Current property models are broken and fail to sufficiently address the needs of the short-term retail category. The future will be very interesting.

 

“All journeys begin from identifying opportunities”

Read other parts of this series.

Welcome To The Future Of Retail – Part One

The State of UK Retail

We have been reading a lot of stories about the current face of the UK retail market. Amidst speculation and concerns about the changing character of post-recession high streets, data published recently has helped disambiguate the situation. Last week, The Local Data Company’s report “Too Many Shops” identified the following shifts in the UK retail sector:

• A decade of lost growth as consumer spending is back to 2002 levels.

• 13% of retail transactions in the UK occur online.  By the late 2010s, 50% of  transactions are expected to occur on mobile devices and VISA’s online platform.

• High Street footfall is down 5% nationally.

Clearly consumer spending is down and already moving from offline to online spending. In the long-term, the proliferation and popularity of mobile devices brings with it the desire to transact in every way possible on the platform. In the short-term, brick-and-mortar retailers have been put under  pressure from online purchasing. Without any model currently in place to mitigate this shift, the type of spending correlates directly to where it is spent. For the moment, online sales does mean sales made outside of physical shop space.

• 1,500 shops per year closed between 2000 – 2009.

• 5,000 shops closed each year in 2010 and 20011.

• 1 in 7 UK shops has fallen vacant.

This sharp rise in shop closures is most commonly attributed to both decreased footfall (and related spending), and consumer consolidation (as more people go to fewer shops). Traditional department stores are being overlooked in favor of independent intermediaries and innovative brand stores. Primary examples like the Apple Store and Niketown have found renewed success through well-crafted  and heavily designed shops. We see the most success in retail shops that are highly engineered  and driven by experiential retail concepts.

• 52% of retail leases expire between now and 2015.

• 6.6 million square feet of new space has been added from 2005 – 2012.

• There are currently 50,000 vacant shops in the UK.

As more space opens up on the property market, consumer patterns change. But shops have trouble changing with them. Long-term leases mean that most shops cannot flex to match the flux. With so little room for competition, pricing adaptation, and innovative strategy, we can expect that retailer mobility will also be on the rise. With half of long-term leases expiring soon there is a good chance that the markets going to be on the move. (Additional information on UK and European retail shifts are available from Matthew Hopkinson’s presentation Multichannel Stat Attack from the Mobile Retail Summit 2012).

Pop-up shops are part of the solution”, said Simon Danczuk MP.

New consumer expectations are driving the rise of short-term “pop-up” retail in the UK and internationally. Made clear by high-fashion and Big Brand shops, consumers desire to associate themselves with products and brands in a more meaningful and creative way. The “pop-up” model facilitates innovative, specialized and (most of all) personalized shopping experiences for a new generation of shoppers.

For retailers, running a pop-up de-risks many common brick-and-mortar challenges. Without the pressure of a long-term lease and deep financial investment, they can offer a wider variety of stock, test prices and iterate designs faster.  (Another way to say it is that short-term engagements allow the market to correctly price retail property, but that is a conversation for another time.