Shopping Centers Today

MAR 2017

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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22 S C T / M A R C H 2 0 1 7 Keep them happy S T O R E F R O N T S Success depends on committed employees, Pirch founder advises By Brannon Boswell H umanity is the new luxury," Jeffrey Sears, founder and CEO of luxury home- fittings retailer Pirch, told attendees at ICSC's Nexus Conference, in Boca Raton, Fla., last month. Sears, who retired as a plumbing sales executive before founding the chain in 2009, says he has created a new kind of retail experience at Pirch. At the company's nine stores, fireplaces crackle, faucets have running water, employees smile and serve drinks while a chef cooks on a gas range. The homey environment prompts visitors to spend an average of two hours in the store when they visit, he said. "You need to show customers that your interaction with them is genuine. Loving human relationships are the most important things to people now." Sears' talk of camaraderie isn't just for show. He says Pirch's policy is to treat its employees better than it expects them to treat customers. " How are they going to know how to treat customers if they aren't treated that way themselves?" he said. He personally spends eight hours a day for five days with every staff member at each store to help train them and ingrain the company culture. "It costs about $150 grand a store, but it's worth it," he said. Sears said technologies that improve consumers' health, food and home will be the wave of the future. He said some new concepts will need a risk-taking landlord to help make an idea a reality. Westfield Group and other landlords contributed money and expertise to helping Pirch grow into a business that can succeed in a shopping center, he said. "Flooring is the next frontier. It's a category that hides. It's massive but substandard," he said. Sears advised leasing agents looking for the next Pirch to visit industrial parks and seek out flooring and wall- covering showrooms that could morph into mall-worthy stores. n " Pirch operates nine showrooms where customers can view and try out luxury fittings and home appliances

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