Summary of the interview at the 2017 Stay Boutique Leadership Conference with
David Fishbein, Principal, Runyon Group
With so many changes in retail shopping and consumers looking for something more experiential, the Runyon Group set out to create a new shopping experience in Century City, which they call Platform. Partners David Fishbein and Joseph Miller had an idea to create a shopping spot that would bring together incredible design and unique merchandising through food and interesting designers. “We’re seeing LA transforming from being this entertainment-focused culture to being one that is about food and design and incredible art, but we weren’t seeing it happen on the retail side,” David says.
People are looking to find a place that is comfortable, and they will have a fun experience exploring. They also want to find ideas and see products that they don’t find at every other store, which has been a big component to how Platform was set up with tenants. David shared how they created “these crazy rules where every larger brand tenant that comes to Platform has to do something unique, inclusive and special that is just for our property.” They did this with long-term growth in mind, knowing that these stores would expand throughout the city, but Platform would still have something that their other stores won’t. One tenant, Aesop Skin Care, agreed to put in a treatment/day spa room in their store to meet their requirement for having something unique to their Platform store.
Runyon group also had to get very creative with marketing to secure their wish list of tenants because the neighborhood surrounding Platform didn’t show very well before their project began construction. “We created these custom, beautiful books for each client and sent it out to them all over the world, just to see what would happen,” David explained. “We had clients respond right away because they were intrigued by the space and how we marketed it.”
In the boutique industry, hotels are always working to keep differentiating themselves from other hotels. So, when David was asked what retail does to keep things exciting, he said, “I think the experience is everything these days. It’s creating events and interesting things that get people to come down and see what’s happening.” Also, things like creating beautiful vignettes that people want to hang out in and posting them on Instagram will often get consumers talking about your retail space. David also advocates for putting in a mixture of services at Platform, like a great nail salon and fitness spaces like Soul Cycle. However, he does feel the most important new anchor of retail in a neighborhood is the F&B. “Having an amazing chef or bakery is what’s bringing people down daily.”