Retailsphere’s Founder on ‘Future of Retail’

August 9, 2023

“Retail was forced to innovate in the early 2000’s…office is just starting that process,” - Retailsphere Founder Mike McKean

Mike McKean, founder of Retailsphere, Knowland and Greenfield New Venture Studio Fund, joined the “Listen by Jean Ginzburg” podcast for a discussion titled "From Brick-and-Mortar to Digital: The Future of Retail."

 “The United States has actually been a net adder of square footage that is retail,” said McKean. “Candidly, it’s one of the reasons I was excited about this space.”

McKean founded his first company, Knowland, in 2004, a company that collects data on the meetings and events industry. After selling half of Knowland in 2012 to a private equity company, McKean started working on a couple things, including what became the beginnings of Retailsphere, in 2016.

Ginzburg asked how COVID and the current economy have affected retail.

“There’s been an amazing amount of innovation. People used to say it’s the Retail Apocalypse or the Amazon Effect, and there’s been changes but there hasn’t been a massive plowing under of America’s shopping centers to make way for pickleball courts for example.”

McKean explained that there are still legacy brands out there, junior Anchor spaces (think Toys R Us), which are 15,000-25,000 square feet and aren’t being used in the best way. They are selling “stuff” which isn’t a great use of the space.

“The people in this space are fun and interesting though,” McKean said. “And they’ve been successful. There’s been a lot more successes in retail commercial real estate the last 20 years than the opposite.”

Which in turn was the genesis of Retailsphere, according to McKean: Find and bubble up those businesses and help Retailsphere users find them and come up with concepts that could work for them. Help them innovate.

“If you are a retailer going from three to six or seven units, by definition you have been successful,” McKean said. “You’ve been successful opening new units multiple times.

“Those are the people the landlords and the people in the (retail) space want to find and identify those folks and bring them in and nurture them.”

McKean stated he’s already seeing it happen. The landlords that have these vacancies are “wooing them into their spaces.”

Later in the discussion, Ginzburg asked McKean’s thoughts on office real estate and how he sees it playing out, after watching retail go through a similar fate.

“Office real estate is going to face a reckoning,” said McKean. “It certainly seems that way. Retail commercial real estate faced this reckoning on what the new economy is going to do for their industry 20 years ago.

“Office is just starting this process and office is wildly bigger than retail. The amount of dollars in the built office space is massive.”

But McKean believes, like retail years ago, office will innovate and look very different 10 years from today.

Retailsphere is the largest data provider to the retail commercial real estate industry, and the only CRE specific sales enablement and customer relationship management solution, the world’s largest database of decision makers related to retail commercial real estate, but also includes marketing automation and relationship management tools, not to mention the abundance of data and retail expansion details.




About Retailsphere

Founded in 2019, Retailsphere is the best all-in-one platform for prospecting, analyzing, and understanding data within the retail industry. Our industry leading database includes information on large national brands, exciting regional concepts, and small local trendsetters. Plus, our simple CRM and outreach automation helps CRE pros take action quickly and strategically. Increase your deal flow. Improve your network. Empower your career. Retailsphere is modernizing the way the retail industry connects.

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