From The Co-Founders


Strategic insights and commentary from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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The just-released "2021's Main Street Business Survivor Study" from the Pandenomics series conducted by the folks* focuses on the"Main Street Survivors:" those small to medium sized businesses "that have weathered the pandemic's fallout." Vital lessons.

What have these "survivors" done differently than the rest of SMB businesses? Here are the major findings of their study. We think that you'll see many of the survival steps you have taken, or be prompted to adopt some others. 

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Have you noticed? From the growing Shopify online businesses, to an array of pop-up shops, mobile "fashion trucks," or newly-repurposed spaces in neighborhood shopping districts, there are many new retail operations emerging. They're actually springing up!

Plus, there are the established retailers who, having shed many legacy features, are re-imagining their place in the ("Coming soon!") post-pandemic environment.  

As we noted last week, retailing is being affected by different patterns of seasonality. The old timing patterns for ordering, seasons, and events no longer apply. New "Rhythms of Retail" must be established by all retailers.

So it was with great interest that we read a blog post about Pop-Up Retail: Not Just for Start-Ups.*  It featured results from a recent study out of the UK suggesting that "the pop-up retail sector is growing at 12.3% per year. And the U.S. pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales."

As we know all too well, 2020 was chock full of "disruptions." Every week brought a new flexibility test. And those of course did not go away when the calendar turned. 

For instance, here we are on President's Day Weekend and Valentine's Day Weekend. Raise your hand if you were able to plan and carry out your "traditional" promotional events, let alone do something for your Valentine.

That's what we thought. The usual patterns just don't apply anymore.


Boy, are we ever impressed.

We've known for years that those who are following and/or involved with The Retail Owners Institute® are resolute, hungry, and determined. But wow! The challenges of the last year have brought out the very best in many of you.

We've heard back some of the most resourceful survival stores that we've ever heard. Here are just a few examples:


It's a new year. And now, another new month. How about a new sense of beginning, a fresh start?

Alas, the coronavirus pandemic continues to prove Dr. Anthony Fauci right:"The virus is in charge."

As you have noticed, all around us there's delay. From Major League Baseball contemplating a month delay, schools and universities very slowly resuming in-person classes, or a decidedly different lineup and focus of Super Bowl advertisers, we have no choice but to continue to be patient. Isn't that the pits?

As Daphne Howard reported*, "Footfall patterns show that getting back to normal requires more than flipping the "open" sign.



There's something in the air. And no, it is not smoke! 

We believe there is a profound feeling of "springtime."

We know; spring officially is still two months away. But that springtime state of mind IS here. And we all should embrace the opportunities it may bring us.

What's the source of this attitude change?

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"Keep your head up. 2021 is going to be great!"

That message is emblazoned – in sunshine colors - in the windows of Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle. And yes, on a drizzly January day in Seattle, it was a welcome sight this morning. A nice pep talk for us all.

And a fitting message to follow our reflections on the year we just experienced. 

Since March 2 of 2020, our From The Co-Founders commentary has been focused on the pandemics. Revisiting those was quite the "year in review" experience.*

  • From March 2: "This is no time to overreact, nor to be dismissive. Look for the facts!"
  • And, "Our focus is on those impacts that demand the most judgment from owners."