Why are some direct-to-consumer brands now expanding to brick-and-mortar retail locations? Travis Boyce, the Global Head of Retail Operations at Allbirds, and CBRE’s Laura Barr join Spencer Levy to discuss the appeal of physical retail locations and the power and promise of sustainability in attracting modern consumers.
Born to Run: How Allbirds Is Charting Its Own Course in Retail
August 23, 2021 36 Minute Listen
I'm Spencer Levy and this is The Weekly Take. In recent years, driven by forces such as cost, convenience and of course, COVID, the shopping world has mass migrated online. But on this episode, we'll hear about an innovative retailer that's been growing in e-commerce and expanding into bricks and mortar too while also keeping an eye on its real-world environmental impact.
We're interested in making better things in a better way. It started with better shoes. We moved into better apparel and that's sort of our sort of mission.
That's Travis Boyce, head of global retail operations at Allbirds, the sustainable footwear and apparel retailer. Joining us from Alberta's corporate office in San Francisco, Travis overseas development, design, construction and just about every aspect of the company's physical spaces.
Brands are spending an extraordinary amount of money to acquire customers and bring them into the stores.
That's Laura Barr, a CBRE senior vice president who's also based in San Francisco. Laura leads a team with a focus on retail, advising tenants and landlords on space and strategies, managing a range of occupiers and investors among our client base, including Allbirds. We'll talk about the company as both a trendsetter and defier of trends, a retailer that hatched in the digital realm with zero storefronts in 2016, then scaled up to more than 30 in the five years since. We'll talk about in-store experience and environmental impact—more important, how a company can measure and hold itself accountable. Coming up, Allbirds and a conversation on e-commerce and ESG—retail and real estate. That's right now on The Weekly Take.
Yes, I sort of at the base level, we are we're interested in making better things in a better way. It started with better shoes. We moved into better apparel, and that's sort of our sort of mission. And by better way, we mean using sustainable, natural materials in a way that has a lower impact on the environment and our planet than than more traditional options available in those categories. And we started with a simple single wool shoe—that was counterintuitive to most to launch with a single product using a material that no one had ever used in footwear. And we've since scaled our portfolio of both products, but also materials and had a lot of interesting innovations, both internally and with partners, creating a really interesting tree fiber that utilizes sustainably harvested eucalyptus. We've used a blend of the tree material and the wool material. We developed a green EVA, which actually sucks carbon out of the air compared to some of the traditional polymers that are carbon intensive and petroleum based. And we've got a number of other innovations in the pipeline that that are going to be exciting for us to release and add to our stable of different ways to create those products. So ultimately, we're about creating these better products in a better way, and it's leveraging really interesting natural novel and sustainable materials.Spencer Levy
Laura, obviously the last year has been tough sledding for bricks and mortar retail, but our friends at Allbirds are growing. Whydo you think that's the case?Laura Barr
I think there are groups that are really good at brand building and groups that are really going to retailing and a very small group that are really good to both. And Allbirds is one of those. The product is a great product, but the story behind the product is deep and something that consumers all over the world engage with. The brand experience—the store experience—that Allbirds creates is really a special one. It's interesting: There's a real connection between physical space and the way our memory is developed. And we think about experience in retail, which is always kind of over discussed. There's a huge tide the way you create a physical experience in a store and the way that memories are created and stored in the human brain. And so if you create the right experience in a physical store, much like Allbirds does, you're much more likely to remember the experience you had—remember the product that you interacted with—and realistically, perhaps a future purchase online, even after a purchase and store. So it's a really big, big part, I think, of their success.Spencer Levy
So let's go with this word that Laura used Travis: experience. What is the consumer experience that you want them to get out of your store in, say, Northern California versus, say, Berlin? Is it the same experience, different, or do you try to make it locally focused?Travis Boyce
Yeah, that's a great question. We tried to have some consistent themes and aspects of that experience. And so from a visual perspective, you walk into one of our stores anywhere in the world, whether it's Asia, North America or Europe, you will sort of recognize very similar design elements, fixturing, obviously the products. So we try to have consistent visual cues, the actual try-on experience and the rituals tied to sort of the customer journey. We also tried to keep somewhat consistent and we found that the actual moment the person puts the shoe on is the make-or-break moment. And it's usually the aha moment when someone who hasn't tried our product steps into a brand-new pair of wool runners for the first time and realizes why they've heard such great things and now believes the hype or what they've heard before they step foot in them. And so those types of things, we sort of hold precious and we try to keep those consistent around the globe. And then there's elements that we do adjust and change and we try to localize some of the obviously some of the graphics and the copy needs to be translated very obviously in different markets based on the language. And then some of the nuances around customers and who comes into the store. We have some stores that are very neighborhood locally focused, and so there's a lot of repeat customers and folks coming in that we get to know and spend a lot of time with over the course of the years—they visit every month, if not more. In other markets were heavily tourist driven. And so the pace of the store is different. The interactions are often first-time exposure to the brand versus repeat customers. So we try to tailor that experience depending on the type of customer and a little bit tied to the location and the types of individuals visiting the store. But we definitely have these underlying experiences that we want to remain consistent, both visually and as part of the customer journey.Laura Barr
I think there's a level of being immersive and carrying through the purpose of the brand, using as many of the senses as possible. So physical to the build out, what does that actually look like? What is the experience you have entering the store, the level of service. You know, it’s talked about a lot, but brands are spending an extraordinary amount of money to acquire customers and bring them into the stores. In fact, one of the reasons why there was such this significant moment of digitally native brands growing was because there was, for a period of time, ads and targeted ads on social media were much cheaper. Those have gotten much more expensive. And it's extraordinary how much some of these brands are spending to convert a customer into a store. You get the customer into the store, that first interaction with an employee is really meaningful in terms of whether or not that person converts. And so that's a really big piece. Obviously a growing challenge as labor is becoming harder and harder. It's probably among the top two or three concerns and pain points we're hearing from all of our tenants, including food and beverage, of course, but certainly across global brands, there's so much other, you know, the sound, the smell you can really do everything to engage with a customer even outside of, you know, the future of augmented reality and all of that.Spencer Levy
Travis, speaking of labor, in our pre call, you talked about some of the local influencers that you try to use in some of these markets to bring people into the store. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about that?Travis Boyce
Yeah. And to Laura's point that the cost to acquire customers online has gone up for almost everyone is Facebook and and Instagram is everyone sort of sees their own feeds get saturated with lots of different brands and products and offerings. So for us, the retail provides an opportunity for us to diversify away from that and to acquire customers more organically and naturally. And that's where our ambassadors are. We call it the Allgood Collective and is as a program that we started last year but have really leaned into this year as retail has come back, traffic has come back, there more comfort and ability to host events. And so in each market that we're in, tied to each store, we try to find a handful of locally—I will call them influential people, not influencers. Like there's often some sort of negative connotations potentially with that term, but locally influential people in that sort of city or neighborhood and it could be a local chef, it could be an artist. It could be a teacher. It could be an athlete. It could be someone who is a sort of social activist and works within their community. So the opportunities for us to find someone that has a mission that is aligned with us around sustainability or bettering the communities they're in is something that we want to be associated with and we try to create a relationship as the stores opening or an existing stores, certainly as they've been operating to help build an authentic relationship where they can leverage us as a brand to support them. If they need space to activate for a lesson or a class or some performance, that we're able to help them and give them our space to use for free. And then conversely, we hopefully get to meet and introduce ourselves to some of their either users or fans or folks that they engage with and create this really natural and local relationship rather than some big international endorsement plan. We try to keep it very local and leverage each other to to to drive awareness towards our causes that we both and typically are trying to find are aligned with ours.Spencer Levy
Speaking of cool people, Laura, let's talk more about some of the cool new concepts you are seeing in some of the more challenged retail locations. Let's call it what it is, San Francisco, New York—some of the better locations there have been challenged recently. What types of new concepts are you seeing to activate those types of areas?Laura Barr
So first, I'd like to point out that I think San Francisco is getting an unfairly bad rap. And if you look back through, you know, since the gold rush, the earthquake, you know, all the way through to ‘01, GFC, and today there's always this running hair on fire, San Francisco's over, tech’s over, real estate is over. That's happened over and over and over again. And I would invite anyone who wants to come out and visit and I will show you why that's not true. And it's not going to happen this time either. But there's a lot of innovation. This happens to be a hotbed of innovation like so many other global cities. There's also this great moment where or well, the moment is actually starting to end because so much of it has been absorbed. But there was a lot of second-generation space that was available. And so the difference in upstart capital required for brands to come in and populate those to activate them was a lot different. And that's, I think, allowed for some more interesting concepts to arrive—Different kinds of use of space, different experimentation, for example, in the food and beverage side with, you know, how do you play with, you know, delivery, which has a very different margin level than dine in and so on. And I think that is also accelerating a trend we saw start well before the pandemic. This idea we've been writing about for well over a year and talking about it long before. But retail is a service. And so the right property operators and investors are coming in and realizing that they can decrease their lease up time—and, you know, this doesn't work for every hold period—but decrease your lease up time and increase the quality of tenant, which likely means you're increasing their sales volume, which means you're increasing your NOI because rents are really a factor of sales volume. And doing that by shifting the way the risk is proportioned in a way. So you are investing far more up front, but you're getting a tenant that is likely much stickier, is going to do much better, and you're avoiding fixing the same problem every three or four years. It's something where we're really excited about.Spencer Levy
Travis, I think Laura brought up a really important concept, which is the sharing of risk between the landlord and the tenant and how that's evolving. And we talked about how you are both an e-commerce and a bricks and mortar company. Some landlords might want to be your partner more than your landlord and share in some of your Internet sales. Has that come up in some of your negotiations?Travis Boyce
Yeah, it certainly has. Again, there's clearly sort of different schools of thought on how it should be figured out. And there's certainly no standard, as there are for a lot of other terms in lease, and I'm sure over time as I've gotten more standardized. So I think this one still has some room to be figured out and maybe hopefully or some point gets us. From our perspective, we agree percentage rent has been sort of a factor in a number. I'm the newbie here in the real estate world, but I'm sure it's been around for quite some time and certainly something that we consider depending on the type of leasing where we are. But we want to limit our contribution or how much we might ultimately pay, in our view, as a brand that has been growing as fast as we have can prove to sort of the drive we've been built to, whether it's a neighborhood or mall. Ultimately, we think that, yeah, there's a certain capped or amount that is probably what the landlord deserves in excess of a base rent. And so we're totally comfortable with that. I think getting technical. I think the uncapped or unconstrained percentage rent element is probably where we feel that if we're performing to that level, we might actually be the one that maybe is a bit of us having sort of an ego is the right word or just belief in our brand. Maybe we are ultimately providing a bit more value to the property or to the landlord. And so I think for us, we're comfortable having the conversation. There's also all the nuance around ship from store, buy online, pick up in the store in order, placed in store, but shipped from our warehouse. All those different permutations of the omni channel experience that I think there's some technical accounting rules that we sort of default to and how we recognize revenue ourselves. But it's a conversation we're having with each landlord and we don't have hard and fast rules, I'd say. And so I don't know if that's too diplomatic of an answer for what you wanted on that. But I think it is true. We've had different negotiations. Every landlord and frankly, on a street deal, probably none. And I'm all if we feel that it's a high, high quality and a mall that is helping drive awareness and traffic to our brand, then we're open to it. We're not trying to sort of screw over any landlord. Certainly that's not our M.O. And frankly, even during the pandemic, we took a very modest and moderate approach in terms of how we negotiated and dealt with landlords on the subjects of rent and adjustments to leasing and things like that. We've always been pretty practical, but try to be fair and ultimately we have confidence in our brand and believe at the end of the day that that we're probably a great brand and tenant for them to have, and we want to make sure that that's been recognized in the negotiation.Spencer Levy
Very diplomatically done Travis. Thank you very much for that. But Laura, Travis brought up an interesting point about the different retail locations that Allbirds considers not just by city, but also by format—whether it be street, front or mall. Let's talk generically for a moment about all tenants. How do you decide which retail format is right for them?Laura Barr
So it ultimately depends on the immediate goal of that location or the series of locations during a certain period of growth. Are you looking for top line revenue, are you looking for profit? And how much of this needs to drive brand impact? Because some streets that hit all those things. But, you know, a street deal, that's really cool, but maybe more up and coming. But it's going to really be impactful to the way a brand is perceived, can have a really serious value. But it might be in a given market—and this is pretty common—that you have a really cool street that's a little riskier in terms of sales, you have a mall that you know is going to be exceptional in terms of sales, but is not necessarily going to be helpful from a brand perspective. That's one piece, I think the other. And we're seeing plenty of malls and have been for years try to move forward with more interesting components, redevelopments. There are plenty of tenants who would refuse to go interior and that's part of it. It also allows for a more—arguably more—neighborhood experience. And so that's kind of sits in the middle. That's a big part of the way that's looked at.Spencer Levy
But one of the things you mentioned, while there are some tenants that prefer the outdoor experience, you also mentioned some of them like malls. And I think that's good news for mall owners out there because it's been a lot of negative things said about malls recently. So, Travis, let's turn to you. Would you consider malls and what other forms of retail are most attractive to Allbirds?Travis Boyce
Yes, we actually will take a look at a lot of different formats ourselves and exist in a number of formats. Frankly, all four of our stores in mainland China are in closed malls, somewhat traditional in that sort of is the path we chose there and are some of the highest traffic locations in the world frankly. In the U.S., it's been a little bit more balanced and mixed. Our first stores were high streets in San Francisco, in New York, in Soho and in Jackson Square, sort of the cooler neighborhoods. And again, to Laura’s point, they also happened to be for us very high traffic, very high volume and very, very successful financially, let alone cool. And so that was sort of the unique aspect there. And as we expanded our portfolio, we're not against malls. We have stores opening in Cherry Creek, which is an enclosed mall, later this year. We have a store opening Garden State Plaza, which is enclosed mall later this year. So we're not against it. And we have a number of lifestyle centers that I guess probably if there's without stereotyping the cool factor of an asset class, maybe sit in the middle if you've got a cool outdoor lifestyle center, UTC in San Diego, Century City in Los Angeles—those types of locations we are really excited about and often have, that density of traffic can still be a really engaging and dynamic environment, which feels more like a neighborhood. I would agree with Laura's point there. But then we still are certainly going after the urban and sort of street locations more broadly, and hat's urban locations like we've opened in Soho and have opened more recently in places like Walnut Street in Philadelphia and in downtown North Loop Minneapolis. But it also means some of the more suburban locations on the high street that we find are interesting because there's a high density of our existing customers. We know that from the e-commerce, they're often in cities that are aligned with our values are the types of customers that we're targeting. And those are places like a Boulder, Colorado, which you can imagine the types of customers that we have there are the exact people that we've been seeking and looking for who enjoy the outdoors. They care about the environment. And so, for us, a store in a city like that, we put that even ahead of Denver. Another good example would be Pasadena and sort of the suburbs of Los Angeles, a great high street location. It's not L.A. proper, but a great alignment with the local population and our values and our mission. So long story short, we're open to all asset types and all types of locations, but we are very thoughtful and intentional about where we pick them within those different categories.Spencer Levy
Another great answer, Travis, and I think you just earned yourself a Weekly Take mug because that was the most uses of the word cool in an answer I think we've received yet on this show.Travis Boyce
I'll take it.Spencer Levy
But going back to something you said earlier, Travis, you talked about eucalyptus leaves being a piece of your product or the way that your product is produced. The only thing I knew about eucalyptus leaves prior to the show was that koala bears like to eat them, but apparently they have a much more dynamic use. But let's turn now to your product, because I think now when we look at our real estate, we look at it—the word we use is holistically from the manufacturing site and in your case, to being on people's feet as shoes. So talk about the holistic approach you take to your product. And then Laura I’ll ask you the same question about others who might take a similar approach.Travis Boyce
Yeah, ultimately we're trying to build products that the consumer needs and wants. And I think one might argue we launched a t shirt last year. Did the world need another T-shirt? I think that's a question that that we ask ourselves. But we felt that, hey, we've got a novel material that's sustainable, has a lower impact on the environment than almost anything else out there. And we were excited about introducing a product that might otherwise feel is entering a saturated market. So at the baseline, that's the question we're asking ourselves every time we build something new is why does the world need this? And it is often because of the way we're making it and how we're making it and how we're reducing the impact on the world relative to other offerings out there in that same category. As we think about the general product development pipeline, there's a lot of different things we do. We have a massive consumer insights part of our business that is constantly mining information and talking with our customers in-store, online, in focus groups, informally, anecdotally, but anecdotally, but also in a very data driven and quantitative way so that we understand both our existing product and how we can improve it and also where we need to chart a path for future products. And that becomes a huge input to our development process. I think we also have an element of, hey, we have some really incredibly talented product development folks and product design folks and product strategy folks that are some of, I think, the best in the industry and have started to build out a roadmap and pipeline of products that I could not be more excited about. And I think we've slowly started to turn up the pace with which we launch products. I think we never want to be in the position where we are just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks. And we may not always get it right, but we need to ask ourselves and have that kind of intentionality with our product launch and again, that holistic approach to our offering and to our merchandizing. And so we do take a very thoughtful and careful approach, but we're going to start and start launching some more products. I'm extremely excited about it. We're recording this today. But there will be a I can probably say it'll be a launch tomorrow. That is going to be a whole new category for us. And by the time this releases, it'll be out in the public and the world. So it's super exciting and one that, again, we will start to introduce some really exciting products that will build out our portfolio beyond what's been predominantly footwear with some light sort of dipping of the toes into apparel will go more up into the apparel world. And I'm really excited about that.Spencer Levy
Cool—see that? I'm using your word now, Travis. Cool. So, Laura, let's go back to what I just said a moment ago about this. In the holistic approach to products, I'm getting the questions every day in the office sector, how tenants are demanding it, I’m hearing it from investors demanding ESG compliance and a whole host of ways. One of them is this holistic look at the products themselves, where they're made, how far away from the site they're made. Laura are you hearing these questions? And what kind of questions are you hearing on the ESG front?Laura Barr
Absolutely. I mean, so much of this is you've talked about previously is driven by consumption habits and preferences, especially with millennials and Gen Z. And there are many brands who are kind of box checking and there brands like Allbirds who are going a lot deeper and having a carbon footprint listed on the product is pretty special, even just from an awareness perspective. So there's a lot of that. I think it's—even on the flip side, I think on the landlord leasing side, there's I think some attention to be paid for how outreach is done for leasing and a thoughtfulness around which brands, which companies, which entrepreneurs we’re reaching out to, as you know, a company that does a lot of leasing on the landlord side as well. And we as a team have been trying to take a step back and think through what our processes who are reaching out to how we're finding those groups and making sure that we're actually being inclusive in the groups we're reaching out to, not just because it's important to be inclusive, but because there are so many extraordinary entrepreneurs who may not have the same access to connections or capital. It's a really important question and we're so happy that it's getting more airtime.Spencer Levy
So, Travis, let's go back to something you mentioned earlier about how data driven you are. One of the things that we've been trying to do with our traditional real estate clients is measure the carbon footprint, measure waste, measure energy usage—not always black and white, particularly when you're dealing with complex products. So can you give us some insight on how you measure that thing?Travis Boyce
Yes, we actually we publicized a carbon footprint calculator after we built it ourselves from scratch and as we've done with other things in the past, opened it up and sort of gave it away for free to whoever wanted to use it. It's on our website and available to anyone in any company. It's probably more geared towards a physical product brand as opposed to maybe a landlord. But I think the concept in itself is what's most important. For us, it's measuring every aspect of of our supply chain. On the product side, it's sort of the raw materials, it's the manufacturing and all that goes into that. It's the transportation logistics which we've started to include. It's the whole picture of the product. And then we take that that score, which is the amount of carbon used. And we, to Laura's point, we place it front and center on the packaging, on the label. And it's for our own accountability so that hopefully over time customers see that number come down on the same product as we improve the sustainability. But it's also education. As people are learning and caring more about these concepts at a high level, this gives them something that they can really dig into and understand and hopefully start to quantify their own impact in other ways. And I'd say ultimately our goal—and I think is sort of the simplification of it, but it resonates with most people—is measure it and you have to measure it to understand the impact, so you measure it and understand it. And you work to reduce it and do whatever you can. And for us, that's continuous improvement of our existing products working across the supply chain end-to-end even in stores, finding more sustainable fixtures, finding appliances that are sustainable. In the future, working to develop sustainable energy and renewable energy sources to power our buildings. And then for us on the talent, we offset everything at Allbirds. So we are a carbon neutral company and every little bit of carbon that we can measure and see we offset each year so that we're carbon neutral. And that includes our travel, our office and headquarters—it's not just the product. We offset the entire business and it's something pretty special. And something again, over time, we hope that we have to offset less and less because we've made that product that much more sustainable as we try to approach the maybe some would say impossible, but for us, it's just a goal to go out is an actual carbon impact of zero. So that's what we strive for. And until then, we will offset our carbon each year. And that's something that we do as a brand. But for others, figure out how to measure it, start and just get simple and measure certain elements of the biggest impacts on your business and start to reduce that over time. Measure, reduce it and if you can are able offset it in the meantime.Laura Barr
That awareness, that offsetting—that whole piece, I mean retail by its nature is, you know, there's a real tension between sustainability and retail. This idea of producing new products to be consistently consumed. The awareness of how much that is impacting the environment and then translating that into what it would take to offset it is a huge step in the direction of figuring out how to address the impact that retail has. It's hard to talk about this without naming that elephant.Travis Boyce
That's the nature and history of this industry. I will also say we are not perfect and we're far from it. But we want to improve in every way from a sustainability standpoint. And that's what we task ourselves with doing, and that's reducing our footprint and our impact on the world. And again, we're not perfect. We're nowhere near it, but we're constantly working to improve it and reduce that impact on the planet. And we'll make sure to label it and hold ourselves accountable so that it's not a sort of black box that we say we're doing something and no one knows. We really want to be sort of open and honest and accountable to our customers and to Mother Earth.Spencer Levy
There you go. Well, I was a labor major at the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations. And I remember back in the first case study we did was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1912 in New York City, which changed the laws on how you manufacture stuff in the United States. It had impact on child labor laws and other things like that. But what I found interesting about that case study versus fast forwarding 110 years later today is that ultimately started with tragedy and turned into different laws. But really what we're seeing today is a company like yours are doing it voluntarily, not from a regulatory standard. There may be some regulations around it, but really it is self-motivated rather than driven by government regulations. Would you agree with that, Travis?Travis Boyce
Totally, we believe it's one the right thing to do and we encourage others to follow in her footsteps. I’ll also say we're tiny. We're a drop in the bucket in this industry, and now we hope to grow and be more than a drop in the bucket. But our hope is that we can shine a light on how to be more sustainable, how to reduce your impact and have others feel the same way. Not only do we think it's the right thing, we think it's what customers want. And so that's a benefit to our businesses. The consumer sort of trends have started to focus more on conscious consumption, understanding where their products came from, ideally reducing their impact—that suits us well from a business perspective. But we did it and we started doing it. And Joey and Tim built this business from the beginning because they viewed it as the right thing to do. And that will continue to be our North Star. But I think consumers more and more each and every day are deciding and putting their money into products that they consume that they they understand a little bit more and they know where they came from. They feel good about them.Spencer Levy
We're going to ask for some concluding comments. Now, I'm going to start with you, Laura. I'm going to ask you to take out your crystal ball five years from now. Crystal ball—San Francisco, other markets like it. Looking back, how is San Francisco and similar markets evolved? What's changed?
San Francisco and the Bay Area remain an innovation capital, if not the innovation capital. There's plenty of talent ready to jump on tough problems of which we have many. We're seeing growth and obviously biotech, autonomous vehicles and mobility in general, education, tech. And we saw $166 billion in venture funding, which is a record year. 34 percent of that flowed into the Bay Area. That is a massive amount of funding. We had 36 companies go public like a six month period right around the start of the year for a total of almost half a trillion in market value. That's 7,000 new millionaires alone in San Francisco. And that's certainly not the answer to making the city a better place. But there are all these data points that are getting overshadowed by this easy-to-publish story of people moving to other great markets. But if you look at the data, most of the people who left the city of San Francisco moved to the suburbs around San Francisco. So looking forward to a strong next five years and a lot of growth, a lot of addressing of issues that need to be addressed as well. Certainly San Francisco has its challenges, but I'm optimistic.Spencer Levy
Travis, two questions. One, you mentioned not just San Francisco, Berlin, New York. You mentioned Boulder, you mentioned Pasadena. You mentioned smaller cities. What kind of smaller cities might be on your radar? You don’t have to say it specifically, but what are their characteristics? And then your very same crystal ball. Looking back, say, five years from now, looking back: Where do you see all birds and how is its retail strategy evolved?Travis Boyce
For first, the cities that we’re attracted to that tend to be sort of smaller, a couple of things: one, maybe not in their control, is how we've performed there from an e commerce perspective. So our existing customer base in that market is a huge indicator for us that we'll be successful on the retail side. And we see that happen where we've launched stores in markets that have successful e-commerce customer bases. I'd say the other—and what made a city like Boulder or a city like Pasadena really exciting for us—is, again, the population that lives there and their values and what they care about. It often maybe a city that has a lot of outdoor support and outdoor activities. That they care about the environment is often an indicator that we will be successful. And so I don't think there's any sort of secret or special sort of equation that we're looking to in each of those markets. And we take, again, a very sort of thoughtful and intentional approach based on both the data of our existing customer base and where our customers are. And then we want to understand the communities we're entering and are the values of the population or the people that live there aligned with what we're trying to do, and particularly the smaller market where there may not be as many total footsteps to go after. We want to make sure their folks that we feel strongly are going to are going to be aligned and interested in our brand if they're not already.Spencer Levy
Well, speaking of footsteps, I went through your brands, the Tree Runner, Piper, Dasher, Lounger, Skipper, Mizzles, Toppers, Runner-Up Mizzler, Dasher Mizzler and Fluffs. So Laura, which of those are your favorites? Travis, which ones are your favorites and are you wearing one of them today?Laura Barr
Tree Runners for me. Short answer.Travis Boyce
I'm wearing an unreleased prototype, so I can't say that when I'll take that out, but I can't say which one I'm wearing right now. My current favorite is actually the Tree Piper right now from our release product. So a casual shoe, very sort of reminiscent of some classic styles from other brands. But I love that as a nice casual summer shoe.Spencer Levy
So on behalf of The Weekly Take, what a great conversation with Travis Boyce, head of global retail operations from Allbirds. Travis, thanks for joining the show.Travis Boyce
Thank you for having me.Spencer Levy
And then Laura Barr, senior vice president at CBRE, one of our San Francisco truly great colleagues, friends, retail professionals. Laura, thank you for joining the show.
Thank you Spencer.
For more about Allbirds and our guests, Travis Boyce and Laura Barr, please check out our website at CBRE.com/TheWeeklyTake. There's lots of other content there as well, including information on past episodes and what's to come. Please also share the show and subscribe, rate and review us wherever you live. We'll be back next week as we close in on the end of summer travel season and look to the horizon with Stephanie Linnartz, the president of Marriott International. For now, thanks for spending your time with us. I'm Spencer Levy. Be smart, be safe, be well.
Head of Global Retail Operations, Allbirds
Travis Boyce is responsible for all retail operations at Allbirds, a San Francisco shoe company that is committed to incredible comfort and environmentally sustainable business practices. During his tenure, Allbirds has grown from an e-commerce retailer to a brick-and-mortar retailer with more than 30 locations in some of the most sought-after locations in the world.
Senior Vice President
Laura Barr leads a San Francisco-based team with a focus on representation for best-in-class urban retail consulting, new leasing and renewal/deal restructuring. Laura’s current investor clients include Beacon, Blackstone, Brookfield, CIM Group, Grosvenor, Jamestown, Presidio Bay Ventures, Vornado, Hudson Pacific Properties, DWS, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Align and many more.
Global Chief Client Officer & Senior Economic Advisor
Spencer Levy is the Global Chief Client Officer and Senior Economic Advisor for CBRE, the largest commercial real estate firm in the world. Spencer leads a team of Global Client Care professionals around the world who are responsible for account management and client experience programs designed to ensure seamless client execution across business lines and geographies, with the goal of consistently delivering exceptional client outcomes. Spencer will focus on both top Occupier and Investor clients.