The Real Estate Law Podcast

43 - How Where We Buy Impacts Where We Live with Research Director James Cook

March 22, 2022 Jason Muth + Rory Gill Season 1 Episode 43
The Real Estate Law Podcast
43 - How Where We Buy Impacts Where We Live with Research Director James Cook
Show Notes Transcript

Meet James Cook, host of Where We Buy and co-host Everything We Know About Retail. 

James is the Americas Director of Retail Research at JLL, a world leader in real estate services. JLL buys, builds, occupies, and invests in a variety of assets including industrial, commercial, retail, residential, and hotel real estate.

James' stated goal is simple – to build  knowledge of the ever-changing retail real estate industry and help his audience understand the next phase of retailing. He focuses on the development and implementation of research strategy, methodology, platform deliverables, and broad sector analyses for retail property markets in the Americas.

He's the co-host Everything We Know About Retail and the host the Where We Buy podcast, where James discusses two of his favorite topics: retail and real estate, and features  conversations with fascinating people, original research, and audio tours of unique retail places.

In this episode, we talk about:
-- The future of retail centers, involving live-work-play elements
-- Assembly Row in Somerville as the perfect example of where retail is headed
-- The success of Lifestyle Centers
-- What is what role did cars play and pedestrian only areas play in retail space?
-- The Boston Seaport's explosive development
-- NIMBYism
-- How COVID has accelerated trends in the retail world
-- What can municipalities do to foster more vibrant retail scene changes?
-- How experiences and technology will play into the future of retail
-- Retail theatre and touring exhibitions
-- eSports as a retail partner
-- Technology and retail

Fun fact - James is a horror movie enthusiast who can probably hop on stage without any prep and deliver an amazing speech about horror movies!

Get in touch with James Cook:
James Cook on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesdcook/
James Cook on Twitter - https://twitter.com/JamesDCook
Email James Cook - jamesd.cook@am.jll.com
Where We Buy Podcast - https://wherewebuy.show/
Everything We Know About Retail video series - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrS8NhFoY_oXMQMXxb63O-A
Read more about JLL's retail research - https://www.us.jll.com/en/industries/retail

Join Jason Muth and Attorney / Broker Rory Gill of NextHome Titletown and UrbanVillage Legal in Boston, Massachusetts for another episode of The Real Estate Law Podcast!

#realestatepodcast #nexthome #humansoverhouses #realestate #realestateinvesting #realestateinvestor #realestatelaw #retail #building #shoppingcenters #customerexperience #commercialrealestate
_____________________

The Real Estate Law Podcast is hosted by Jason Muth and Attorney / Broker Rory Gill.

This podcast and these show notes are not legal advice, but we hope you find both entertaining and informative.

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James Cook:

What a kind of like the old fashioned sort of the boring retail destination was really a place where you were only going for one reason. And you know, that might be back to school shopping or something like that. But a vibrant sort of place of the future, people go there to work. They go there for meetings, they go there for drinks, they go out to eat, they go for back to school shopping, they go to see a movie. So there's entertainment destinations as well.

Announcer:

You found The Real Estate Law Podcast, because real estate is more than just pretty pictures. And law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom argument. If you're a real estate professional, or looking to build real estate expertise, then welcome to the conversation and discover more at realestatelawpodcast.com

Jason Muth:

Welcome to another episode of The Real Estate Law Podcast. Really excited you're here for this episode. I'm Jason Muth one of your hosts, we have a really cool, amazing guest. I've been looking forward to this conversation for a number of weeks since we first heard from James Cook, and we researched you know, hey, who's James like, you know, cuz we hear from people all the time who say I love to tell our story and be on the podcast and I saw a bunch of videos that James produced out in Las Vegas. He's an expert on what's happening in the retail world these days. And, you know, after you say hi, I'll give you even more proper intro, but this is going to be a great conversation, Rory, and it's gonna involve learning about how the retail landscape is evolving, and maybe even how that affects where we live and how we live and why we live where we do. So first of all, welcome James to The Real Estate Law Podcast.

James Cook:

Thank you, Jason, Rory. I'm really happy to be here. I think we're gonna have a fun conversation.

Jason Muth:

And we should welcome Rory Gill as well from NextHome Titletown Eeal estate and UrbanVillage, Legal or other host. How are you?

Rory Gill:

I'm anxious to hear but the fate of retail and with it the fate of cities.

Jason Muth:

I don't think it's much the fate though. I think that retail is alive and booming. And that's what we're going to hear from James. But James works for a company called JLL and JLL is I'm not familiar with JLL. So it's probably the kind of company that a lot of industry insiders in the retail space are familiar with. And if you're listening to this and don't know, JLL, I'd like to read the mission statement. It's a great mission statement, or at least part of the mission statement on the website. JLL's purpose remains steadfast now more than ever, as a global company, we have an inherent responsibility to drive sustainability, technology and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. James, that's a lot to live up to as a company.

Unknown:

Yeah, it is. So for those who don't know, JLL is the second biggest commercial real estate brokerage in the world. Again, if you're not in that world, you can be forgiven for never having heard of JLL. But it's also called Jones Lang LaSalle, which some people have heard of, but we do anything to do with commercial real estate, from retail to office to multifamily, both helping people buy, sell and lease, and then my little niche within that is just the retail sector. So that's what I focus on.

Jason Muth:

In fact, you're the Director of Retail Research for the Americas, right?

James Cook:

Yep, that's right. So I oversee a small team that tries to learn and share everything we can about retail in the US and Canada.

Jason Muth:

It's a lot of research, a lot of a lot of going on site and filming and talking to people and learning what's happening actually, in the field, but also a lot of research, I'm sure you're putting forward a lot of great white papers, and custom analyses for your clients.

Unknown:

Yeah, it's true. And you know, we don't get to go to on site as much as we used to before COVID. It's starting to come back. But really, it's funny, I was traveling real, you know, a lot like two times a month before COVID, which for me is a lot for some people, it's probably not even that much, but COVID hits, and I've been doing a lot of just what we call desktop research, which is doing everything we're remotely starting to travel a bit again, thankfully, things are starting to change. But we do a white paper a month now on a different retail or retail real estate topic. And those are available free for download at jll.com. And then we also do custom research for clients that pay for it. And we also just do you know, like a lot of speaking events and just, you know, I tell people my job is to think about what's the future of retail?

Jason Muth:

Yeah, I think a lot of people were probably asking that question these days as as some retail is thriving and some you drive by boarded up shops and, and shopping plazas that used to have great anchor stores that have been bought out. I know that here in Boston, Rory and I drive up 93 all the time. And I think that anybody in Boston will have a look at what's happening in Somerville and Assembly Square, where there's just an amazing amount of development there. And before you look in the distance, and you see it all, but like right there at the forefront after you come off the Zakim Bridge, there's an old Circuit City that is clearly still an old Circuit City that is that has no tenant there. And I think Spirit of Halloween goes in there every so often. But I mean, I've been up here for 20 years, and I think that 15 of them that place has been vacant. But, you know, it's questions like that, that all of us have, like, how does that stay vacant? But then how does this amazing development happen at Assembly Row right behind it, I was gonna say, Rory, this affects a lot of what you do with residential real estate and where people are moving to.

Rory Gill:

Absolutely. So, you know, when we see that those kind of projects, like, what are some of the driving forces behind it? Like, I don't want to go too far into COVID. I mean, that but you know, what are some of the driving forces that we have in retail, that those of us outside of commercial real estate, we just don't see?

Unknown:

Yeah, so you mentioned Assembly Row, which is outside of Boston, that's a great, great example of sort of what you might call the future of retail, and it's a mixed use project. So it's not just this fortress mall, that, you know, you go to on weekends, you know, that you that I grew up going to as a kid in high school and junior high. This is a vibrant, you know, sort of 24/7 project where people live work play, they're very thoughtful about the food and beverage that goes in there, the kind of restaurants the kind of retail, in a nutshell, that is the future, it just doesn't make sense anymore, just to have sort of this isolated, you know, retail thing floating off on its own. And so you mentioned Circuit City, which has been gone for a while now, and a sort of a poster child of, you know, what we don't need, like a big warehouse of goods, because we've all got websites now to order those things from

Rory Gill:

To those to our listeners outside of Boston who aren't familiar with it, we're talking about, you know, a retail development that has a lot of mixed uses, including residential use, and largely outdoor pedestrian areas with parking garages, and actually access to this, the subway system in Boston, all kind of converging in one place, places like that are the future of retail,. What are some of the factors that go into making a project like that successful?

Unknown:

Yeah, it's all about the synergies of multiple destination types. So what kind of like the old-fashioned sort of the boring retail destination was really a place where you were only going for one reason. And you know, that might be back to school shopping or something like that. But a vibrant sort of place of the future, people go there to work, they go there for meetings, they go there for drinks, they go out to eat, they go for back to school shopping, they go to see a movie. So there's entertainment destinations, as well. So what makes it special, is there's a lot going on, what makes it valuable to a real estate or a real estate developer is that you've got the retail there to attract people, but you're really making your money on the residential and the office rents. So that's where the money comes in. That's, that's a safer bet for from an investor standpoint.

Rory Gill:

So does the affluence of the area, a major factor into this, and what does this mean for areas that are less affluent,

Unknown:

There are a lot of interesting mixed use developments with a strong retail component going into less affluent areas, although the most successful that I can think of are usually in, you know, we have a term called Lifestyle Center, which is sort of It's a shopping center, but it's outdoor, it has a mixed use component usually. So it has some residential, some office, it feels urban, but it was all created by a single developer. And off the top of my head, all the most successful ones do happen to be in affluent areas, so that that could be a part of it.

Jason Muth:

So here in the Boston area, I mean, we said

Unknown:

So yeah, I mean, part of my job is to be familiar with Assembly Row and you knew exactly what it was, and we didn't even talk about that beforehand. Is that that kind of project is that well known for JLL and your colleagues or you just happened to be familiar. with retail and mixed use projects across the US. That particular one developed by a company called Federal Realty, which also which is a client of ours that we do leasing for and a number of areas for example, are you guys familiar with Third Street in Santa Monica, California? It's this great pedestrianized shopping street that that same company, Federal owns a number of retail buildings on that street, and we're doing the leasing for those properties. So you know, we kind of do some interaction with them quite a bit.

Jason Muth:

We were in Santa Monica a few years ago, and I'm sure that we I didn't realize that but I'm sure we were there. You know, if we were there. We were at the pier and the whole area as well.

Unknown:

If you went it would have been The Street just a little bit in from the pier in the city that was pedestrianized. So the whole street is closed off to driving traffic. And it's a really, it's just a wonderful place to walk around and hang out.

Rory Gill:

Right, that actually raises the kind of another question that I had for you is the the role of automobiles and pedestrian streets here because that's a major debate going on in Boston, where a lot of traditional shopkeepers are vehemently opposed to the creation of bike lanes if it eats up parking spaces, or pedestrianized streets or allowing restaurants to use some more street space for alfresco dining, certainly in the age of COVID. What is what role did cars play and pedestrian only areas play in retail space? Are they good? Are they bad?

Unknown:

You know, I think it's depends on the context. So historically, you know the show, South Park, in the song, it's ample parking day or night, is part of the jingle. Like that's living in the suburbs, you have to have ample parking, if you're a car-oriented culture. But if you're in the city, and you do something like transform one of the lanes into alfresco dining, you're actually going to increase the vibrancy and attraction of that, because there's just no way to have ample parking in the city, there just isn't like anything that's successful as an urban core, parking is going to be a pain in the butt no matter what. Like that's just it. So there's no way to have ample parking in a city. But there is a way to make it more attractive for bicyclists, for outdoor diners, pedestrians, I mean, I'm a big fan of any traffic calming efforts that you can you can create in a city that slows down cars and makes a pedestrian feel safe. That kind of transforms it into a place where people want to live, work and play.

Jason Muth:

Here in Boston, we have a number of neighborhoods that have destination shopping and destination pedestrian pedestrian areas. I know Newbury Street, they actually do block it off on occasion. And it's pedestrian only, but I can think of some of like the neighborhoods and technically we know we live in South Boston, that's where Rory's office is. Southie, as we call it. If you're listening to this and don't know Boston, Southie and the South End are two different things. But we're in Southie. And you know, we're considered part of the urban core, but it's a very, very parochial residential neighborhood that has lots of destination restaurants these days. And technically, we have the Seaport also, which is part of South Boston, and Southie is never going to cede the Seaport to the Seaport. It's the South Boston Waterfront. And things have exploded in this neighborhood the past two decades, with people coming in here from other neighborhoods to go out. People want to live here. The Seaport is still being developed right now. I mean, I'm sure you've heard about what's happening in the seaport Boston.

Unknown:

Yeah, absolutely. So much got so much new development, just fascinating.

Jason Muth:

Yeah. And actually, we're seeing - who is it WS development that's doing the Seaport, right, yeah. They're trying to bring programming it - or shouldn't they try to do a good job with programming? You know, they have, you know, they've had outdoor skating and Christmas shops, there is outdoor beer garden that Cisco Brewery has hosted the past couple of years to the consternation of bars, because they're saying, we have licenses that are expensive. Why are you letting people do these you know, these short engagements? So there's a little bit of struggle that's happening within the neighborhood. And I don't know if this is unique to Boston, but nimbyism is big here. You know, some people think it improves the quality of life when you put a Cisco beer garden in the middle of a huge new neighborhood. Others think it is the, you know, second coming of the devil. So what should we look for when those kind of situations pop up around the country? And you know, the neighbors come with their torches?

Unknown:

Yeah. And that is it's funny, because I'm sitting here saying how wonderful mixed use is. But when you get a place where people both live and play, suddenly, it gets a little bit iffy. I think one of the solutions is having some kind of, you know, either some kind of security setup where people feel safe. You know, safety is a big part of it. Also having like specific rules in place, like, you know, it's not going to be until 3am or something like there's a certain expectation that goes along with it. I think people want to live in a vibrant place. They just don't want to live in Bourbon Street, you know, where it's like just mayhem.

Jason Muth:

I heard that cocktails in New York are still like to go cocktails, I think are still a thing in New York City. And the liquor stores don't like that because obviously it cuts out of their business but the restaurants like it because now you could bring a cocktail out.

James Cook:

I'm a strong believer in allowing people to do you know more things and that just attracts more people, you know, so, you know, me getting a cocktail to go with my dinner. I'll end up maybe going to the liquor store and get an extra bottle of wine and it just kind of snowballs into something that, you know, it benefits everybody in a lot of ways. Same thing without, you know, outdoor dining. In this example of an outdoor bar like, superficially, it seems like they're stealing business from the local bar, but all of that would spill over, you know, people would come for one, and then oh, it's crowded, let's just go to this bar next door, and it ends up being good for everybody.

Rory Gill:

So I'm glad we got to talk about some of these developments that they've built over the past couple of years. And it's just such a shame that COVID means the end of all retail, is that right?

Unknown:

No, absolutely not. All COVID has done and or is doing, we're still waiting for it to finish up here has accelerate some trends, you know, we've been seeing for a while. One of them is sort of a slow shift to certain kinds of things being sold online. You know, for example, most people were not going to the grocery store online. That just wasn't a big thing. A lot more people are comfortable with it now. That being said, still only about 15% of grocery sales, sales are happening online, less than that, maybe 13% of all retail sales are happening online. So still the vast majority of things people buy in store, but COVID is really Yeah, I mean, we had malls completely shut down, people weren't allowed to go. And some of that, that some of these lesser malls, traditional enclosed malls have just gone away, which is something that was kind of happening already. It's really, you know, the A malls, the traditional, but the really nice enclosed malls that are doing just fine now, many of them are seeing foot traffic that was higher than 2019. So higher than before COVID. You know, the lifestyle centers, like the Assembly Row, that kind of thing is is sort of coming, but is is really strong too. It's just sort of like the dead zone in the middle, just the not great retail, you know, exemplified by that empty Circuit City box. You know, that's kind of the stuff that's kind of getting pushed aside now.

Jason Muth:

I've been to a couple of those A malls, I believe, is there one in Costa Mesa, California, is that I forget what that one's called.

Unknown:

Yeah, there's, I mean, there's probably, I don't know, between 50 and 100, what you'd call like, just really Class A malls and lifestyle centers across the US maybe even a little bit more than that. And those are all really successful. And then the other thing too, is in a lot of smaller cities. The mall is still the play might not even be you know, a Boston, A mall, but it'll be in that town, you know, because it's a smaller town or city. It'll still be very successful because it's a place where everybody still goes, it's the only place.

Jason Muth:

Yeah, we have a bunch of those lifestyle malls here. I've always I was always fascinated that people are going to go to you know, Legacy Shops and Dedham or Derby Shops in Hingham when it's super cold outside. I mean, like, you know, we're recording this right after a couple days after we had a massive blizzard and nor'easter here in Boston, this episode will come out when hopefully all the snow will be melted by then. But it see people in the Northeast seem to not care too much about it being cold. I mean, that was one of the draws of malls decades ago, where you park your car once and you walk inside and it's all climate control and you can walk in and out of each store. That's not in vogue as much anymore.

Unknown:

Yeah, you're absolutely right, I'm actually speaking to from a co-working space at a Lifestyle Center here where I live in outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, very cold outside. So you're like, why would they do that? Why wouldn't they make an enclosed mall. But you know, what, you know, Downtown Boston and you know, Manhattan have proved is that people are more than happy to go someplace and walk outside if it's got a vibrant, cool urban feel to it. And I think that, that and the availability of the interesting new stores, you know, all of that kind of still brings people to draw out and shop and go out to eat and meet up.

Rory Gill:

We've talked about a couple like larger masterplanned retail spaces Third Street Assembly Row, but what are some things that municipalities can do to foster a more vibrant retail scene changes and zoning anything to kind of bring back some retail into into the community?

James Cook:

Yeah, so I kind of depends on what community we're talking about. Are we talking about like a small town or, you know, sort of a city neighborhood?

Rory Gill:

Well that's part of the tension as well, you know, they're different things that work in larger cities, larger seems to have better economics, but, you know, the smaller community that is, has a, you know, a bunch of retail vacancy is what's something that they could do to reverse the tide and maybe restore some vibrancy to their downtown's.

James Cook:

Yeah, you really have to and I'm not an expert on small towns really, mostly most of my work is cities and then and shopping centers, but from what I've seen, you have to reach a critical mass. And if you're an owner of, you know, let's say you own a bunch of shop space in some smaller town, you may have to bring on some tenants with little or no money up front and have an agreement that you're just going to do percentage rents, which is basically, they'll just pay you a percentage of whatever their sales are in lieu of rent. So you as the landlord are taking on a lot of risk. But if you can do that with multiple tenants and have a critical mass of interesting destinations, and you need casual dining, you need fast casual, you need at least one or two places with alcohol, you need like a dessert place, you need more than anything else a coffee place that seems to be most important thing. But if you can join that critical mass together, again, it's like the sum of the parts is greater than than the whole that I say that right? But bringing those it's like the Justice League, you bring them together all those superheroes together and they're more powerful than they were separately.

Jason Muth:

Coffee shops, if you're not Dunkin Donuts, or just Dunkin right now, sorry, it's Dunkin or Starbucks have a hard time cutting their way into the Boston area. Although we have a bunch of Cafe Nerros now and if you drive north of Boston, you'll find Aroma Joe's everywhere and south of Boston, you'll find Mary Lou's, which is a big suburban thing in Boston. So let's talk a little bit about some trends that are happening in retail right now that people who are listening to this might might either be unaware of, or they might have been to it once or twice. And we'll mention your podcast and your YouTube channel in just a second. Because you have some amazing content on there. You've shown some of the future of retail, in many videos that you've produced between experience and technology. Like where do you think we're headed?

Unknown:

Yeah, I have managed to get out a few times recently. And one of them was to this place called Area 15 in Las Vegas, and it is not right on the Vegas strip that's within a mile of the strip. So it's strip adjacent, adjacent, but it's an entertainment complex. It's almost an entertainment mall. And it is anchored by an art. And it's tough to describe. It's called Meow Wolf. Meow like the cat and Wolf like the animal, Wolf. It's an art collective. And the tickets are not cheap. It's like 50 bucks a person. But you go inside, and it is this crazy interactive art experience. Which Yeah, maybe you just check out that video to see what it's like. It's pretty tough to describe. But it is a whole art mall. There's all these other inline tenants. There's food and beverage, restaurant, food, bar, all kinds of stuff. It's an experience mall, and it's called Area 15. There's one in Vegas, I think there's going to be more coming soon in other places in the US. So that is certainly something quite quite unique.

Jason Muth:

It's something that you can't get from at home. You can't get it shipped to you. You're not getting it on your TV. I remember showing that video to Rory a couple weeks ago. And I think I followed -what are they called? Meow what?

James Cook:

Meow Wolf.

Jason Muth:

Right? So I followed them on Instagram saw their whole story. And it was fascinating. I mean, it's a kind of thing that if you're looking for something to do, you might go, you'll go and then if the if the exhibits change, maybe you'll go back. I mean, it's probably not the kind of thing you go to like two or three times a week like the grocery store. But being somewhere in Las Vegas. I'd imagine that could be wildly successful, because they have a constant stream of different people that are coming there like places like Orlando or New York or, you know, a big a big tourist destination Boston, I think, installations that would do really well as well. But yeah, experiential is when I watched that video, I said, Yeah, I could see a version of this going on tour across the country.

James Cook:

And we sort of have things like that there's a whole host of quote unquote, experiential museums and Instagram destinations, like, I don't know, the museum of ice cream, or there's another one called Candytopia. And they are, many of them are touring. So they'll go to, you know, like, they'll lease out a vacant, you know, retail box for a couple of months, and go kind of from city, city to city, and they're tending to go to places where there's not, you know, like in New York where there's a fresh crop of people coming in every week, but there's, there's such a such a place for that retail theater. You know, I am so you know, we're all pretty bored with a lot of what's going on right now in the world. And just having an opportunity to get out and do something a little bit different. That's new to your town, and it's limited, it's here for a limited time. So you know, it's and also a little bit of FOMO it's like if I don't Get it I'm going to miss out.

Jason Muth:

We'll mention the Everything We Know About Retail is your YouTube page. And I noticed a couple days ago that you had a live stream about eSports. That actually could be and that's a area that is obviously wildly successful right now and growing. And if you're not in the eSports world, you don't get it. But if you're in it, you know, it's like, it's like breathing to you. You don't.. how could you not imagine, like being successful in eSports, or having it be part of everyone's every day? Tell us how that can be transformative in the retail landscape across the country?

James Cook:

Yeah, I mean, it already is, I think, super popular. But you're right, if you're not engaged in it, it's easy not to realize how big a deal it is. But there's, from like a real estate aspect. First off, they do these huge competitions that can go in arenas that see like seven to 10,000 people, which a lot of people are not aware. It's like a video game, you know, just stream it online. So there's like arenas that people go and watch it in. But there's also eSports lounges, which are smaller places where you go out and have food and drinks, and you play video games with your friends. There are different retail shops for some of the different popular games, like Fortnight, or League of Legends are two of the big, big ones. And then there's teams, so they're professional sports teams, and they'll have places where they go and have their headquarters, you know, like training facilities, and sometimes there could be like a retail or arena component to that. So there's a lot of ways that esports are sort of encroaching on the physical world. And as they get popular, there's more, more of these are going to open but the eSports lounge, that place where people go and hang out and play games casually with friends and get food and drinks. Those are growing all the time. A lot of them popping up next to sports stadiums like traditional sports stadiums. So yeah, a lot of growth there but you're right if you don't it's either you know about it or you don't

Jason Muth:

Here in Boston, the the Kraft Group who owned the New England Patriots and the revolution they own

James Cook:

That's right yeah!

Jason Muth:

The Overwatch team the Boston Renegades? Oh my god, how do I know the name? I have to look this up. Terrible I'm forgetting them. But yeah, and they're right near the stadium. You know, it's it's popping up right next to them in Foxborough and Foxborough has kind of a live work play retail destination right there by Gillette Stadium. This is going to kill me now that I definitely need the team. But I'm gonna have to look them up right now. I was gonna ask about experiential and about your podcast, which is Where We Buy right.

James Cook:

Yeah. So did you have a question? Or you want me to just..

Jason Muth:

I do have a question. But let me.. it's the Boston Uprising.

James Cook:

And there you go. I don't know that. But so are you a fan? Are you are you a gamer?

Jason Muth:

I'm not a gamer. Although Rory and I stumbled upon - remember this in Seattle a couple years ago. We're outside Key Arena or whatever it's called now. And we stumbled upon all these people across this field, just just hundreds staring at the screen. And it was eSports competition for Dota 2. I think I'm sorry, frankly.

James Cook:

Yeah, that's one of the biggest games in the world.

Jason Muth:

Yeah. So you're a fan is what it's like,

James Cook:

It's funny. I'm not. I'm a researcher. So I get excited about everything I learned. And basically, I'm learning about this stuff and sharing it with you guys. Now my big game is Wordle. Okay, I'm pretty basic.

Jason Muth:

I got a 4 out of 6 today in Wordle, not my best showing but not terrible. But yeah, we didn't know what it was. I mean, a couple years ago, this was we were in Seattle going on a cruise to Alaska, actually. And we had a day to kill, and we stumbled upon it. There was some big gamer convention happening in town. And they were doing an outdoor outdoor showing of whatever finals it was of this. And it was eye opening to me. And then we started researching it. You see these arenas that get filled with people. I think the Barclay Center and bought in Brooklyn has hosted a number of these as well. And that's a pretty big arena where the where the Nets play. Let's talk about the podcast though. So you know, the podcast that you have is called Where We Buy. I remember listening to an episode that you did a couple couple episodes ago about the delivery service, Jokr, j-o-k-r, has just entered our neighborhood here in Boston. So actually sent that over to a colleague of mine that sells media advertising, and he's calling them now. So thank you. Tell us about your podcast tell about the types of people you're interviewing. And you know, what your audience is like and what you're learning from doing it.

James Cook:

Yeah, that's been probably the most fun thing I think I've done with my work is a couple of years ago, starting up the podcast, we're almost at 200 episodes. And it really did start as a whim. Like a big part of my job is interviewing people learning about new things. And at first I was like, Yeah, I'll just start recording my regular conversations that I'm having and we'll release them as podcasts. And at first they were pretty basic. As you guys know, it's a lot more work than that. It's not really just recording a conversation, there's a lot of prep and, and research and advanced that goes into it. But that's fine. I'm a researcher. So we've been gotten a chance to interview CEOs from a lot of retailers, restaurants. And then interesting people too, for example, right when COVID hit, we did an episode where we talk with small business owners in some small towns to see how it was affecting their business. So I'm, I'm not somebody who's has to talk to the C suite, I want to learn from everybody like some franchisee, and some, you know, small town, I just love to see how their businesses work. But our audience is, the retail, real estate, well, community, basically. So it's physical retail. But we also do talk about e-commerce some sometimes to our latest episode is about all these digitally native brands that are now becomes their their successful online and are like, well, we've plateaued. So now it's time for us to open physical stores. That's actually the episode just released today is on some different brands that are opening physical stores in malls, a lot of them in traditional malls. But yeah, Where We Buy is the show, and it said, the website is wherewebuy.show.

Jason Muth:

We'll put that in the show notes as well. And before we get to our final wrap up questions, I actually want to ask about one more thing that we've heard a lot on, on Where We Buy, and that is technology and retail. You know, someone listening to this podcast is certainly not going to be as well versed as you are. But where do you see things headed in the next three to five years? Like what are some things that are happening, that are going to become commonplace? That right now just seem really novel?

James Cook:

So it's still novel, but you it may not be new to you have you either have you been to an Amazon Go store where you don't have a cashier?

Jason Muth:

No, but I know about them, you just walk in and walk out. It's like you're stealing stuff, but you're not.

James Cook:

Exactly right. Now you scan, you have to have the app, which is linked to your obviously your Amazon account, you know, everything's linked to that. But you scan your phone to get in, you just take whatever you want, and you walk out and it just gets charged to you. There's computers that track you individually as you're walking around. Right now, this is a novelty, there's a couple of there's probably about 20 locations, and they are in urban settings. They're about to start going into more suburban locations into bigger suburban convenience stores, but still with that just walk out technology. Right now it's pretty novel, there are other companies doing the same thing. There's just a growing list of retailers that are experimenting, like different convenience stores, grocery stores that are all experimenting with this a similar technology. Right now it's completely novel, you know, I would say within five to 10 years, we're gonna all be a lot more used to skipping the cashier, which I think is great. You know, I think that, you know, the in-store associates will have more time to do what they like doing, which is helping people and stocking shelves. And you know, me as a shopper, man, waiting in line is always the worst, especially, you know, it's like, I just have this one thing, and I'm standing in line, somebody who's got a bunch of stuff, you know,

Jason Muth:

Self checkout, that seems to be where I get to these days.

James Cook:

Yeah, well, That drives me nuts too. Because then you get, you know, you scan the beer, and you gotta wait for them to come over and check your ID.

Jason Muth:

But, you know, I think that, you know, places like Boston, obviously, technology is big here. You know, we have some great institutions, healthcare, a diverse economy, I think that things pop up here, you know, before elsewhere in the United States. I remember LevelUp I think, I think started here in Boston. If not, then I'm giving them credit for starting in Boston. But years ago, when I signed up for level up, it was novel, that you could go to a bar and show your phone and they would scan, you know, a QR code on your phone. You wouldn't have to pay wouldn't have to give them your credit card. It was all stored in that. And I mean, I think I had that service starting 10 years ago. And these days, you know, nobody carries cash anymore. You know, we're all transmitting through Venmo and Cash App. And you know, we're scanning our phones and everything is virtual, who knows how we're going to paying for stuff in 10 years. But you know, 10 years ago, it just seemed novel, and 10 years later, it's common. It happens fast.

James Cook:

Yeah, absolutely. One word of caution that I've been, as I'm talking with different people about this. There is, you know, all of this requires you've got a smartphone, and you've got the app and you've got bank accounts and credit cards. And there's a large segment of America of the world that's unbanked. You know, and that can't necessarily afford like $1,000 iPhone. So there is like this. It's like this is great, but I also want to convenience for everybody. So I think the challenge, you know, for retailers is going to be able to come up with ways where you can do this without, you know, necessarily having, you know, bank account, debit card and smartphone.

Jason Muth:

For some reason, I was always in the impression that retailers had to accept US currency if they're going to operate the US. And maybe it's not the case, because there's certainly retailers these days that don't take cash, like you have to pay with a credit card or scan your phone.

James Cook:

Yeah. And now during COVID, it feels like a lot of them have made that as sort of the excuse to not accept like, oh, yeah, we don't we don't do cash anymore. Just touch. Contactless. You're right, I think, I think it's at the municipality level, and certain cities require you to be able to accept cash, but I've been to a growing number of places where it's, it's, you know, credit only, yeah.

Jason Muth:

Rory, if I want to buy a house from you, can I bring a wad of cash, or...

Rory Gill:

Please don't, but you could, you could!

James Cook:

So is it let's say, I've got like, isn't there like some amount of money that you have to report to the IRS? It's like over $10,000, so I'll bring you $9,000 in cash. don't report it to the IRS.

Rory Gill:

Yeah, every transaction $10,000 or more goes through a bank has to be reported. But every real estate sale gets reported anyway, through other means. So there's nothing I do that's not tracked.

Jason Muth:

That's also why back in the day slot machines used to pay out $1,199 as their jackpot, you know, instead of $1,200? Because they'd have to report that based on a what $1 or $2 wager.

James Cook:

I didn't know that.

Jason Muth:

So why don't we get to our final couple questions, then we'll, we'll ask you where people could find you, James. So we ask these three questions of all of our guests as a way of just wrapping things up and learn a little bit more about you. The first question is something that I'm sure you've done many, many times in the past, but maybe not about a subject of your choice. But if you could hop on stage for a half hour and talk about any subject in the world with no preparation, what do you think that might be?

James Cook:

So if it's going to be like what I'm naturally used to, I'd go up and start talking about, you know, like what we've been talking about, like experiential retail and how to make a great shopping destination. If it was something like for me personally, that I had to speak about extemporaneously right now. Oh, my gosh, I really like, this is kind of weird, but I'm really into old science fiction. Author Jules Verne, who wrote like, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days, I feel like I could probably talk extemporaneously about those old books for a half an hour, also horror movies. That's another one, I can do horror movies, no problem.

Jason Muth:

Have you seen the new Scream?

James Cook:

No, I haven't, but it's on my list.

Jason Muth:

Second question, tell us something you have an early on in your life or career that is impacting the way that you're working today.

James Cook:

So I really randomly became a retail researcher, it was not my goal at all, I have a degree in English literature. And the benefit of that degree is you write a lot. And so you learn how to how to write. And I was, you know, after I got out of college, just looking for something to do. I was like, I want an office job, I'd only ever worked in retail, basically, I was like, I'd love to, I'd love to sit down and have a coffee maker. And so I just started applying and ended up applying for a real estate analyst job where one of the requirements was ability to write reports. And that's how I got into it. So that sort of that writing training that I got in college, really shaped then the next 20 plus years of my life, and it's really helped me, you know, I got first into commercial real estate, and then started specializing in retail real estate. And it's, it's turned out really well for me.

Jason Muth:

That's a great lesson. If if you're listening to this, and you're in college, trying to figure out what to do with your degree, you know, fill in the blank degree communications degree, English degree, you know, French Literature degree, like, I think a lot of the careers that are out there are not taught by schools, but the skills might be, you know, so research, writing, analysis, critical thinking, you know, you can't really find a job that has those in the title. But you found your way to an industry that allows you to apply what you learned.

James Cook:

And nothing, Jason none no technology that I use now was like, even exist in existence when I went to college. So it's like college shouldn't be about teaching you how to do one specific thing, the tools that you need to deal with whatever life throws at you.

Jason Muth:

We're dating ourselves here, email address, my very first email address was in college because my friend went abroad and said, Hey, you should get this thing called email so you can stay in touch.

James Cook:

Yeah, that's when I got mine too.

Jason Muth:

Rory, there was no smartphones when you were when in law school,

Rory Gill:

Blackberries were around. But we didn't have those. Those were for business executives only

Jason Muth:

Can't do tick tock dances with the Blackberry.

Rory Gill:

You can't.

Jason Muth:

Final questions we have for you tell somebody that you're listening to or reading or watching these days.

James Cook:

Let me back up a little bit. So the name of my podcast is called Where Be buy. And it is a take off on this very famous book called Why We Buy by a gentleman named Paco Underhill. It came out in the late mid to late 90s. And it was a global bestseller, and it's still very valid today. It's all about why people shop how retail stores should be organized. And it's sort of like one of those foundational texts that you know, everybody in the retail research world knows about. And Paco Underhill, that author just released a new book. It's called How We Eat. And it is all about the changing world of supermarkets, and just food in general. And I'm about halfway through that it just came out like a month ago. But I've had actually had Paco on our podcast before. Once I finished reading the book, I'm making a list of questions. I'm going to see if he wants to come back on and and talk about that, but just a fascinating, you know, supermarkets are just really interesting places.

Jason Muth:

It's very inquisitive, you know, of nature with everything that you're doing. It's it's very much like Morgan Spurlock with you know, his pop culture take on on the innards of things that we all know.

James Cook:

Yeah, big fan. His Super Size Me is still one of my favorite documentaries.

Jason Muth:

Love it. I think it's a book also right?

James Cook:

I'm not sure probably. I mean, he must have.

Jason Muth:

I'm thinking of Fast Food Nation. So I read Fast Food Nation a long time ago.

James Cook:

Also fantastic book. Yeah, love that book. Not a great they made a movie out of it wasn't as good. But the book is fantastic.

Jason Muth:

I can go on for hours. But this but you know, we'll have to have you back. When when we don't have hard stops coming up, James, but we appreciate it. I encourage everyone listening to first of all to go download Where We Buy as a download or subscribe to it. So you can get you know hundreds of past episodes, right to your smartphone, listen to current ones and then give you know glowing five star reviews and comment on James' podcast. And then go over to our podcast. And if you didn't subscribe to it, subscribe to that as well. And give us a really cool five star review because we appreciate those. And then the Everything We Know About Retail is a YouTube channel that James has also produced. And there's tons of great videos on there. I think that's where I found out about Area 51. Right in Vegas. Yeah. Yeah, really, really cool videos. So, you know, there's so much stuff that we could learn about what you're uncovering in the retail space. Even if you don't work in the space. It's just something that's super interesting. And we can all relate to it because we all go shopping. Where else can we find you, James? Are those the best places?

James Cook:

Yeah, that's it. So everythingweknow.show will take you to that YouTube page. And then wherewebuy.show will take you to the podcast page. And I'm on LinkedIn too. If you're interested in following me on there, I post all that stuff on LinkedIn as well. Just search for James Cook JLL.

Jason Muth:

I've already done that. And I've already followed you. We will link up all these things in the show notes for this episode. And Rory, where can we find you?

Rory Gill:

I'm easy enough to find take a look for me at NextHome Titletown, nexthometitletown.com or UrbanVillage Legal, urbanvillagelegal.com

Jason Muth:

Thanks for listening as you're driving around, as you see retail spaces, wherever you wherever travels take you you know, think about the work that James is doing. Think about why you see what you're seeing. And then you know, go have a look at some of his findings and maybe that'll help fill in some of the gaps. So thanks again for listening. I'm Jason Muth here with The Real Estate Law Podcast and we really appreciate your having heard this episode and we look forward to coming to you with next one as well. Thank you.

Announcer:

This has been The Real Estate Law Podcast. Because real estate is more than just pretty pictures. And law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom arguments. were powered by NextHome Titletown greater Boston's progressive real estate brokerage. More at nexthometitletown.com and UrbanVillage L,egal Massachusetts real estate counseling serving savvy property owners, lenders and investors more at urbanvillagelegal.com. Today's conversation was not legal advice, but we hope you found it entertaining and informative. Discover more at realestatelawpodcast.com Thank you for listening!