Commercial Real Estate

CRE Opinion: How to Succeed in Retail

The customer experience is—and will always be—king.

Jennifer Pierson, managing partner, STRIVE

People rarely remember what you say, they sometimes remember what you do, but they always remember how you make them feel.  So, as consumers, who makes us feel wanted, inspired, happy? Who creates an experience that makes us want to get out of our pajamas and away from our computers to experience something worthwhile? Some developers reach us by creating a cultural experience in their projects through adding green spaces and art, and a cultural experience.  Some landlords tap into our professorial instincts through environmentally friendly and sustainable features like a cistern that catches and recycles water, which is an interesting topic and a teaching opportunity for our kids. Some tenants make bowling or watching a movie extraordinarily comfortable or fun. But no one does it quite like Becca.

Walking into Highland Park Village is not exactly like grandma’s house with the smell of freshly baked cookies, a twinkle of love in the air, and a feeling of home.  Quite the contrary, or as my 12-year-old daughter says “this place is Bougie, Mom.” The Bugatti’s, the Couture clothing, and sales people whose demeanor would have you think they were raised on the Upper East Side with a silver spoon, don’t exactly exude a “you are welcome here” vibe.

However, there is one corner of HPV that will give you reprieve….if you catch it when Becca is there. Ralph Lauren has the rare distinction of employing a woman who might be the best salesperson in the city. Through the large, intimidating doors and into the perfectly appointed entry, I see her.  A beautiful, full-figured blonde with a smile that transforms the stayed decor into a welcoming retreat.  She envelopes me in a warm hug, and does the same to my husband while exclaiming, “Congratulations.”  The reason she knows to say congratulations is because after the first time I shopped with Becca she friended me on Facebook, and therefore knows we just got married. In her funny, self-deprecating way, she makes us feel like welcome guests in her own home. While we catch up on kids, family, and work, she smoothly offers us both a drink.

We are then escorted to the cozy dressing room in the back where Becca really begins to shine.  Seemingly in her mind, and certainly in mine, I have transformed into an A-list actress who looks effortlessly sexy in all that adorns my body, which is a trick because I have a pear-shaped figure.  Becca instinctively knows to accent the waist and cover the hips and thighs. She pulls together outfit after beautiful outfit that fit me perfectly. I am convinced that during the hug at the front door she was making mental notes of my current size…has she gained weight, has she lost weight? But there is never a word about my size. She is thinking and figuring the whole time. She is smart and she is grounded.  She has her priorities straight, but is not afraid to say, “Girl, you look hot in that!”

I should have started this story with a little insight into my miserly instincts and my distain for trying on clothes. Those two points make it miraculous that I, a) love shopping with this woman, and, b) spend way more money than intended every time I shop with Becca. Those two facts are what got me wondering, why do I gravitate to that store and that experience. Obviously, I do because of the way she makes me feel.  Therein lies the secret to the future of retailing: large, cavernous stores where the sales people don’t understand their inventory or their customer will not make it.


Jennifer Pierson is managing partner for STRIVE, which was founded in 2017 as the result of the merger between The Vitorino Group and Pierson Retail Advisors. The commercial real estate investment firm  focuses on retail investment sales in Texas and the Southwest. To learn more, please visit


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