BILL CHERRY'S GREATEST DALLAS PARK CITIES REAL ESTATE BLOG: Interview Everyone in Search of What You Don't Know.

Interview Everyone in Search of What You Don't Know.



For the majority of my real estate career, I have been interested in redeveloping small-town downtowns.

I have taken the lead as the consultant in several.

It's a tricky business, especially if you are close-minded to learning the reasons one is as it is, rather than assuming that you intuitively know.

It's best to look for the opinions that go against the tide. 

For an example, "Well, shopping malls came along with lots of stores, enclosed concourses and free parking," is often the reason given for a downtown's failure.

The problem with that is that it gives the failed downtown only two recourses: tear everything down and build in its place an enclosed shopping mall with free parking.

Or, figure out how to tinker with what is at that downtown, and make it appeal to a place of new ideas.

Properly done, it almost always works. Using what's there, with educated modifications, is the correct approach.


Target is a big box store, as you know, that has been seriously  losing its market share.  The same thing is happening at Wal-Mart.

At Target, upper management has decided that spending massive amounts of capital to redecorate their stores will bring the customers back.  Maybe, but I haven't found that to be the problem.

Target's inventory is undependable. If I go there for, say, new underwear, in all likelihood, the store will not have my size in the "standard" kind I want.  Or if they do, there will not be as many as six pairs on the rack.

Customers are not interested in making a special trip to a store, regardless of how its decorated, if they can't be assured from experience that the store will have in stock what they want to buy.

Pottery Barn was to be a Mickey Mouse cheap import store when it was first begun.  In fact, it primarily depended on a mail order catalog rather than stand alone stores.

Meanwhile, back to Target.  Target had hired a team to build a computer program that would track merchandise on hand in each store, so that each night, their nearby regional warehouses could accurately ship out accurately needed stock replacement to them the next day.

This change put Target on the map for the first time.

Pottery Barn hired the team that had built the Target program, and used it to move into retail, stand alone stores.

It became enormously successful.

Target, meanwhile, spent capital on investments that should have only come from surplus funds, not at the expense of adequate inventory.


Meanwhile, Staples has been loading its shelves with rolls of paper towels, coffee, and other like supplies. 

That would be a wonderful approach, I suppose, if it didn't interfere with making certain that they have every computer printer ink cartridge in stock and, say, the matching envelopes for their Southworth office stationery.

In my case, I stopped driving to the nearby Staples store because I got tired of being disappointed.  Instead, I order what I need from Amazon.  They always have it.

And in the main, it is actually cheaper, and it is delivered to my door the next day, which is soon enough.

So here's the question:  If your real estate business isn't doing as well as you would like, probably remodeling the office, changing your logo, doubling your avertising budget or increasing your staff size will not bring the results you hope for.

Instead, look for what potential clients feel is missing.


SINCE 1966

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Comment balloon 22 commentsBILL CHERRY • October 16 2017 03:44PM


Downtown shopping needs to be a destination experience that goes beyond shopping for an item.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) over 3 years ago

Bill you bring up a very good point about real estate businesses - look for what the clients feel is missing and fill in those gaps.  It's been interesting to see malls become almost obsolete in the last few years or so - at least it appears that way in my area.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRS CRB, Phoenix Broker, 602-380-4886 (HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000) over 3 years ago

Hi Bill - You make some interesting, and relevant, points about downtown redevelopment - an activity I too have been deeply involved in at various times in the past. The lessons translate well to real estate.

Featured in BananaTude!


Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 3 years ago

Very smart advice!  Look to tweak what's there in a budget.  Great, well thought out post that most people miss as they don't look at the big picture! 

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) over 3 years ago

There sure were a lot of errors in my copy!  I apologize for that.  I think I've now caught at least most of them, and made the corrections.

Posted by BILL CHERRY, Broker & Wealth Coach (Bill Cherry, Realtor) over 3 years ago

Oh my gosh!  I think you are on to something Bill Cherry!  We have two box stores in town a Wal-mart and a K-mart.  Everytime I go to the Kmart in search of a specific item, the chances are 9 to 1 that they don't have it.  Then I leave the store kicking myself and wondering why I even went there.  Rumor has it our local store may not be around much longer - not a huge surprise.

Posted by Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate, Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming (Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming) about 3 years ago

This title drew me right in! After that, the rest of it hooked right in there.

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) about 3 years ago

I wish I had a box for my stories right now. I should start doing that. That was a good idea! Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) about 3 years ago

You are absolutely right about Staples stores. I used to go to one for my ink cartridges and they started having a very meager supply. Last time I could not find any that fit my printer and I had to order them online. Which is what I'm going to do from now on.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) about 3 years ago

this is an excellent analysis of a real issue - what is missing - identify that before you start making changes! 

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) about 3 years ago

Bill - You hit the nail on the head re your analogy to real estate practices.  "Find a void and fill it" has always been my motto.  And you know what that is only by listening, analyzing, and not following the crowd or trying to do more of the wrong thing.

Posted by Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC, CNS (Everything Pines Partners, LLC.) about 3 years ago

Good post

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 3 years ago

Great post...few people know what they don't know...unfortunately...and those that know it all...sigh....oh well.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 3 years ago

Very interesting blog!  There is a Target near my home and in preparation for vacation, I made  a couple of trips there for a few items.  Every time--they didn't have something I wanted.  I will give them a little slack, stores run out. However both times I was there the store itself was in such disarray it was embarrassing--clothes on the floor, shelves ransacked, dirty bathroom--it was very disappointing.  Too easy to shop Amazon!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) about 3 years ago

Wonderful analogy! It's just like starting a new business - those that fulfill a need have a better chance of succeeding than those that don't.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) about 3 years ago

I began in Galveston where there are a zillion historical homes and buildings.  No agency was specializing in them.  I named my company The Old House Company, and put it in one of the historic homes on a major street.  We never looked back....Thanks, Margaret, for joining in.

Posted by BILL CHERRY, Broker & Wealth Coach (Bill Cherry, Realtor) about 3 years ago

When I visited Great Britain, and traveled by subway, I heard so often the recorded voice every time the door was open, "Mind the gap."

That stuck with me and that is what I tell myself with my business-mind the gap. Find the need and fill it.

Loved the message of your post.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA about 3 years ago

Great advice. Always cater to the customers. It is surprising how many companies don't know about their intended customers. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Corey Martin, Real Estate and Management Solutions (Martin Presence Group) about 3 years ago

So, the question becomes:  What exactly does the potential client feel is missing? 

Posted by Cheryl Johnson about 3 years ago

Malls are in a quandary because pretty much everyone is comfortable buying online. I now go to stores to look and FEEL something I want, but often go back and look it up on the Internet and then buy it there. Chances are not only will I be able to buy it CHEAPER but they also DELIVER. That's how I bought my little office fridge. Couldn't figure out how to get it from the store to my office without a hasstle. Hey, I bought it online CHEAPER and they had FREE DELIVERY via FedEx. PS. In my RE business? I just put information out there on the Internet, but have a SMALL office in the BEST PART of town, in the BEST TOWN. No one comes here anyway, but clients still need to know I am SOLID with a brick and mortar office.

Posted by Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®, Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea about 3 years ago

I always learn something from you, Bill. It is an interesting post

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) about 3 years ago

It's been my experience that most don't want to make the effort to do such an analysis, BILL CHERRY ... or make the changes that are discovered and called for upon doing it.  I see it all the time.  A willingness to learn AND change is needed.  And that important part of the equation is missing all too often ...

A very smart post here, Bill ... and challenge.   Thank you ...


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) about 3 years ago

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