The permanent closure of thousands of retail locations will create millions of square feet of empty retail space that malls and shopping centers will need to find ways to fill. These store closings will create opportunities for pop-up shops from large brands, small neighborhood businesses, and local artisans. More affordable and shorter commitment leases will provide opportunities to a new set of entrepreneurs that will bring more innovation to the retail world.
As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Jashinsky.
As Director of Marketing and Sales at John’s Incredible Pizza, Brad Jashinsky oversees all sales and marketing activities for the company’s 14 family fun centers. Before joining John’s, Brad drove successful business results through industry-leading marketing campaigns for companies in the entertainment, tourism, and technology industries, including the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park resort and Razer, the leading lifestyle consumer electronics brand for gamers.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Believe it or not, I have a knee injury to thank for my marketing career. I tore my ACL playing high school football. That injury dramatically changed my career path. The school counselor suggested that I replace my football class with a technology class. That one fateful decision helped me pursue a new career path of marketing and technology instead of athletic dreams. I sometimes still wonder where I would be if that hadn’t happened. Probably not in the NFL …
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There have been so many interesting and incredible stories throughout my career. I still pinch myself when I think of the projects and people I have had the great opportunity to work with. One interesting story that comes to mind was when I gave Nicholas Cage and his family a tour of the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park. He was an extremely grateful and friendly person that loves the famous fried chicken that the park serves. It was interesting to spend a few hours with a major movie star who is also such a big part of Internet culture. He shared some great stories about filming the National Treasure films, which were partially filmed at Knott’s Berry Farm’s replica of Independence Hall.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
I developed an app for the Six Flags chain of amusement parks while still in college. This was shortly after Apple’s App Store launched and no theme parks had developed mobile apps. I flew to their headquarters in Times Square to pitch the executive team. The presentation was a disaster. This was my first time in New York. I barely made it on time, because I got lost on the way. I didn’t realize there were summer rainstorms in the forecast so I didn’t bring a jacket or umbrella. I hadn’t memorized my talking points and couldn’t get the projector to work. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even bring back-up paper copies of the presentation. So all eight people huddled around my laptop as I bumbled through the worst presentation of my life while soaking wet from the rain, adding insult to injury. Fortunately, the group was forgiving and looked past my lack of preparation.
One mistake after another happened that I can now look back on and laugh at. I was horrified at the time. I still think about that presentation. It haunts me to this day and reminds me of how important it is to prepare and have a back-up plan. Ever since then, I have always brought an umbrella, packed extra adapters, created back-up paper copies, and memorized my talking points.
Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
I feel fortunate to be working with the great team at John’s Incredible Pizza to reinvent our business model due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has banded together to pivot our family fun center buffet concept into a technology-driven endless menu table service. We will offer an all-you-can-eat endless menu that is ordered through our app and brought to guests’ tables by our friendly staff. Every person in the company has been working hard to create a safe and fun environment for our guests. We are so excited to help families continue to create fun lifetime experiences at our locations.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My biggest tip is to find a partner or close friend that can help you create fun traditions to keep you from burning out. My wife Meghan has been instrumental in helping me find more balance in my life. She reminds me to come up for air and take time for activities that are not related at all to work. We have a fun ritual of making dinner at home and watching The Bachelor or another funny reality show a few nights a week. I still struggle to find the right work/life balance, but she has helped me make a lot of progress in the right direction.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are so many people throughout my career that have helped me along the way. One person that comes to mind is Kevin Wynn who led the marketing and sales team at Knott’s Berry Farm. He taught me the value of patience and how to not get caught up in the details. I was so frustrated by the lack of progress on our website redesign that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I took out my frustrations on the team. Instead of reprimanding me, he coached me to look at the bigger picture, take a step back, and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My Mom volunteered throughout my childhood and brought me along to help whenever she could. During the early part of my career I spent less time volunteering as my focus turned to work. Her death was a tragic reminder not to wait until later in life to begin giving back. That helped me renew my commitment to giving back throughout my life instead of only after I retire. One of the ways I give back is through mentoring. I have met with hundreds of students and entry-level graduates to teach interview tactics, conduct résumé reviews, and provide career coaching. I love being able to connect people with career opportunities and help build professional connections.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main question of our interview. Can you share 5 examples of how retail companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to shop?
The Future of Retail Is Experiences
A 2017 report by Credit Suisse predicted 25% of malls will go out of business by 2022 leaving millions of square feet of retail space empty. That will likely be accelerated by COVID-19. What will happen to all of that space? I predict that experiences will be a major part of the future of retail. Trampoline parks, indoor theme parks, go-kart family fun centers, and virtual reality games have already started to replace many department stores in malls. The new American Dream Mall in New Jersey is a look at the future of the country. It was originally designed to have 55% entertainment space and 45% retail space but has already pivoted to 70% entertainment space and only 30% retail space. Our 14 chain indoor family fun center currently has four locations inside malls. We plan to open more locations inside of malls in the coming years. Each location takes up the space of a large department store with over 50,000 square feet of rides, arcade games, dining, and more.
Curbside Pickup Is The Present and Future
Many retailers were forced to quickly expand curbside pickup options due to COVID-19. Most have seen impressive results, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. I expect this trend to continue and become a major consideration during new store designs and location refurbishments. Nordstrom rolled out its new concept Nordstrom Local into urban locations in Los Angeles and New York City. The locations serve as convenient service hubs for online order pickup and returns, express alterations, and stylist consultations. These smaller locations are less expensive to build, conveniently located to more consumers, and require less staff to operate.
Pop-Up Shops Will Continue To Grow
The permanent closure of thousands of retail locations will create millions of square feet of empty retail space that malls and shopping centers will need to find ways to fill. These store closings will create opportunities for pop-up shops from large brands, small neighborhood businesses, and local artisans. More affordable and shorter commitment leases will provide opportunities to a new set of entrepreneurs that will bring more innovation to the retail world. Some of my favorite pop-up shop examples include The Poundshop design collective’s budget-friendly boutique, Chicago’s Green Market Garden flower shop, and the Hello Kitty Cafe container pop-up.
Hybrid Retail Experience Stores Will Become The New Normal
Retailers will continue to find new ways to offer experiences such as exercise classes, cooking demonstrations, and training seminars to entice shoppers to visit. Lululemon uses its stores’ weekly complimentary yoga classes to create deeper relationships with customers. Apple has redesigned its stores to provide more room for the popular Today at Apple classes that offer sessions on photography, programming, and more all centered around using their products. Even more traditional retailers like Staples have reconfigured their stores to include Spotlight Space to host speaker sessions, hands-on workshops, and educational seminars for small businesses.
Seasonal Attractions Will Be Important Retail Center Traffic Drivers
Seasonal attractions, such as haunted houses, Instagram art museums, and interactive theater experiences, will no longer be relegated to strip malls, warehouses, and abandoned shopping center parking lots. The abundance of retail space caused by store closures will create new opportunities for these types of seasonal attractions to be located in more prominent locations. In addition to helping pop-up shops, more affordable and flexible leases will help seasonal attractions. Similar to the role movie theaters have played, these attractions will become important traffic drivers for retail centers. Except these attractions offer an experience that is not easily replicated at home.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As I briefly mentioned before, I have benefited so much from mentorship throughout my life and I have tried to give back as a mentor. I work with a great organization called the Orangewood Foundation in Orange County, California to mentor foster children. Both my father and uncle were adopted so the cause has always been close to my heart. My wish is that more people will join the movement to help mentor at-risk kids, especially foster children, during their formative years. You can truly help change lives.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bradjashinsky/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Brad Jashinsky of John’s Incredible Pizza: “The Future of Retail Over The Next Five Years” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.