Retail: Slow to Memphis, but Lucrative Nonetheless

After having a presence in cities like Nashville and Atlanta for years, Memphis has seen a plethora of national retailers enter the market as of late.

Brands like Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Urban Outfitters, Staples Inc. and Cheddar’s Casual Café, to name a few, have all set up at least one shop in Memphis and many are planning for more.

Charlie Oats of Oats Commercial Properties told The Daily News in June that it’s often about demographic and growth pattern decisions made at the corporate level.

“I think Memphis is one of the markets that a lot of these people have on their short list – some of them are going to go to some of the larger cities first and when they get that done, then they’re going to come here,” Oats said.

Franchises seem to operate in a similar fashion. Lindsey Laurenzi – one of the two local owners of national fitness craze Pure Barre – tried the exercise out in Nashville before bringing the concept home last year.

But in less than a year, Pure Barre was busting at the seams in its Germantown location and expanded into East Memphis.

The rep that negotiated both of Pure Barre’s leases, Andrew Phillips, is also responsible for placing Genghis Grill in its first Memphis location near Wolfchase Galleria. The self-serve stir fry chain had been all over the state for years – Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville included.

But it’s what Phillips said about Genghis’ performance at that location that explains Memphis in a nutshell – it’s not always the early bird who gets the worm.

“I think that some of these national franchise people are looking for expansion markets and that’s where we fit in,” Phillips said. “That’s why we’re seeing them go into some of our higher demographic markets, like we did that Genghis Grill at the Shops of Rock Creek in Cordova on Germantown Parkway, and that store is actually one of the highest performing stores per square foot in the country. It’s just these new franchisees and they’re seeing markets that have the demographic counts that they need to perform successfully and I think these guys so far have been very happy with the Memphis area.”