Specialty Retail Hall of Fame Awards
The third edition of the annual Specialty Retail Hall of Fame awards again saw outstanding industry professionals recognized for their contributions. Inductees were recognized at a special luncheon at SPREE; the event was sponsored by F. C. Dadson, a Greenville, WI-based RMU and kiosk manufacturer.
Marie VanDrisse from F. C. Dadson said the award winners were an example for all to follow. Marc Winkelman, CEO and co-founder of Calendar Club, was honored by Patricia Norins, publisher and CEO of Specialty Retail Report, with a lifetime achievement award.
Heidi Cardall from CBL was honored as the Specialty Leasing Director of the year, while Denise Monahan with Jersey Gardens Mall, a Glimcher property in Elizabeth, NJ, was recognized as Specialty Leasing Manager of the Year. Tim Olfield from Gold Rush was honored as the Specialty Retailer of the Year.
Patricia Norins noted that the inductees were prime examples of excellence in the industry and were great models for others to follow. “The Hall of Fame awards have a high bar for dedication, performance and success and these outstanding individuals work hard to surpass these goals every day. They exemplify the awards in every way,” Norins said.
The Specialty Retail Hall of Fame inductees for 2012 are profiled below.
Lifetime Achievement: Industry Game-Changer Recognized
Specialty retail veteran recognized for vision, leadership and humanitarian efforts. by Duffy Weir
It is no secret that Marc Winkelman, the CEO of Calendar Club, is a game-changer and a visionary. After all, says Patricia Norins, the publisher of Specialty Retail Report, who recently presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, that’s what it takes to successfully run the world’s largest seasonal specialty retail program.
Winkelman learned retail through osmosis while growing up in a family of retailers. In 1977 he opened a large bookstore and café in suburban Detroit and ran it successfully for 13 years. It was during this time that Winkelman noticed the calendar business grow naturally out of the book business as publishers began producing more calendars every year. From Sierra Club titles to Ansel Adams photography and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions, calendars were becoming popular gift-giving items. “Each year I was in the book business, publishers offered more calendars and by the mid-80’s, our bookstore offered more than 300 different titles and our customers loved them,” Winkelman says.
Noticing how well the calendars did in the store, Winkelman thought a kiosk in a mall would make a logical extension. However, success was not immediate. Testing a mall calendar kiosk, Winkelman tinkered with the temporary seasonal calendar business for a couple of years in the mid-eighties. Those early decisions—especially merchandising calendars on the wrong fixtures; a weak selection of calendars and the wrong mall location served as lessons learned while he figured out how to proceed.
A few years later, in the early ’90s, Eddie Brasch, a partner in Bighorn Sheepskin Company, one of specialty retail’s most successful iconic operators asked Winkelman to try the calendar operation again. “Eddie and Barry Silverman [with Bighorn] knew a lot more about seasonal retailing than I did,” says Winkelman. It was during this period that Calendar Club was started as a division of Bighorn Sheepskin and Winkelman partnered with the two sheepskin retailers. Now Winkelman can look back on those early days as learning experiences that guided the management of the successful Calendar Club that he operates today.
Calendar Club has built a successful international component to the business too. Winkelman says his greatest accomplishment is in building an organization with operations in many countries outside the United States—including Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Today, Calendar Club operates 1100 temporary locations and has diversified its product mix. “Right now we have 30+ (year round) game, toy and book locations and we are looking for other concepts,” Winkelman says.
Norins points out that the Lifetime Achievement Award was created to recognize professionals “who have achieved truly outstanding success and who stand out as industry game-changers.” She says that in talking with the Calendar Club team, she was impressed at how often they used words like integrity, honesty, passion and intelligence to describe Winkelman. In recognizing Winkelman with the honor at SPREE, Norins said the award was “based on Marc’s relentless passion for the industry, his amazing vision, his tremendous leadership skills, his humanitarian efforts and his innate ability to run a very successful company.”
Specialty Leasing Director: Service with a Smile
Pixie dust and alligator skin make for a leasing professional who can handle anything with a smile. by Duffy Weir
If you want something done, ask the busiest person. This is how colleagues describe Heidi Cardall’s “take-it-on” and “get-it-done” attitude. Heidi Cardall, Senior Director of Specialty Retail at CBL & Associates was recently recognized as The Specialty Retail Director of the Year, and as someone who handles everything with a smile.
Jeff Gregerson, Vice President of Specialty Leasing and Cardall’s supervisor, says Cardall, who has been with CBL for 14 years, has always been a tremendous asset to the company and the specialty retail department. “She is hard-working, conscientious, and loyal. She always has the department’s best interest in mind and keeps everyone on track with deadlines. Heidi is the glue that holds the department together and I am very fortunate to have her on the team,” Gregerson says.
Cardall began her career in specialty leasing long before she knew it would become her career path. In high school she worked at carts and kiosks at Sea World in her hometown of Orlando, Florida. “It was always fun for me,” she says. Cardall majored in retail management, marketing, and consumer behavior in college and following graduation she joined American Greetings. After three years, she moved to Philadelphia where she took a seasonal-type position with Halloween Adventure where she was responsible for visual merchandising, leasing, and gift buying and acted as the district manager for stores. In the early 1990’s, Cardall was leasing 100 Halloween locations nationwide.
After several years with Halloween Adventure, Cardall decided to try working on the developer side of the shopping center business. In 1996, she worked for The Mills Corporation in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina. When she learned that several of her friends were relocating to Chattanooga, TN, she became interested in the possibility of transferring to a mall there. In doing her market research, she learned of a possible position at CBL corporate. Gregerson brought Cardall in for interviews. “I was offered the job that week, and instead of going to another Mills property (Sawgrass), I took a huge risk and leap of faith and came to CBL. I’m so glad I did; I’ve never looked back,” Cardall says.
Cardall knows how to overcome challenges in her work. “I like to say I’m very firm but always fair. Having grown up in Orlando, I joke that I was dusted with pixie dust, then moved to the Northeast and grew alligator-tough skin,” Cardall says.
Cardall is hoping that the specialty leasing industry is on the comeback. “The 2012 SPREE show had such a wonderful energy and surge of excitement. I feel the industry is on the cusp of breaking loose again in the next couple of years and will start to fill in those merchandising gaps that have been missing during the last few years of recession. Hopefully the SBA (Small Business Administration) will start releasing loans again, and money will start flowing in a positive manner, so we can get the economy running in the correct direction and people will be willing to take those risks again,” she adds.
The Hall of Fame Award for Specialty Retail Director of The Year surprised Cardall. “I was privileged and humbled by the honor. I had no idea that I was being recognized for hard work, my high standards, or anything else that I do every day, as part of my job. I truly absolutely love my job and everyone I work with, whether it is within my own company, a retailer, a manufacturer, or other peer or company, so to be awarded for doing it, especially by the industry leaders and magazine, is simply amazing,” Cardall says.
Specialty Leasing Manager: Merchants’ Darling
Denise Monahan is the first specialty leasing manager to have been nominated for a Hall of Fame award by a tenant. by Bernadette Starzee
When Denise Monahan found out that she had been named Specialty Leasing Manager of the Year, she laughed. “I received a call from one of my tenants, Dan Kilkoyne, president of Mini Melts USA, Inc.,” she recalls. “He said, ‘I did something without telling you, and I hope you’re not mad.’ He’s a great tenant, and I was wondering, ‘What could he have possibly done? Moved a machine?’”
Kilkoyne informed Monahan that he had nominated her for the award, and that she had won and would be a getting a call in five minutes. “I chuckled, because of the way he told me,” she says. “The honor was especially sweet because the nomination came from a tenant.”
In nominating Monahan, Kilkoyne spoke about how she had helped guide his company as it grew. “I believe Denise is one of the best specialty leasing reps in the nation. Her property is always fully leased, the décor is incredible and she integrates so many different elements into the program,” Kilkoyne wrote in his nominating papers. “She values her tenants’ opinion and creates an extremely productive work environment.”
Monahan’s ability to relate to tenants stems from the fact that she used to be one of them. About 25 years ago, she began her specialty retail career with two carts at Plymouth Meeting Mall in Plymouth Meeting, PA. She went on to own and operate 11 RMUs in four different states over six years.
While a tenant at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA, Monahan was approached by management about a leasing position in 1993. “I jumped the desk to the other side,” she says, crediting Franklin Mills’ Carole Asher, whom Monahan describes as her mentor, with teaching her the ropes.
For the past 12 years, Monahan has worked at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, NJ, where she currently manages a specialty leasing program with 41 RMUs, 15 kiosks, 17 temporary in-line stores and 19 jewelers in a 6,000-square-foot jewelry exchange.
“When I talk with my tenants about margins or about why something isn’t working for them visually, they appreciate that I have been there,” she says. “A lot of our tenants are mom-and-pop shops, and I do a lot of mentoring. I love working with tenants from concept to completion. Some former tenants from 15 or 18 years ago still call me for advice, which I find very fulfilling,” she adds.
Looking back on her accomplishments over the years, Monahan is especially proud of her work with Lollipop Boutique at Franklin Mills. “At first, the owners didn’t know what product they wanted to offer on their cart,” she says of the operator that, with Monahan’s guidance, focused on specialty apparel for weddings and first communions and grew into a kiosk and then temporary store and, ultimately, a successful permanent store.
Monahan says her position requires that she think outside the box, a skill she says she learned when she worked as an event planner for IBM before getting into specialty retail. “You have to think about how you can turn a space into something unique,” says Monahan, who jokes that she is a “frustrated visual merchandiser.” She was particularly proud of the lush caravan-style kiosk she came up with for a tenant’s palm-reading concept. Monahan’s visual merchandising abilities have earned her several Visual Victory awards from Specialty Retail Report,, as well as various merchandising awards from Glimcher, the real estate investment trust company that owns Jersey Gardens.
Things have changed in specialty retail since Monahan entered the industry, and the changes have created new challenges. “Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in temporary leasing of inline stores,” she says, noting that she wasn’t trained in working with inline stores and had to learn as she went along. Temporary inline stores are a win-win for properties and tenants, Monahan says. “For tenants, they provide a way to test out a product or a location,” she says. “And filling empty stores with temporary tenants is an invaluable source of revenue for properties.”
Specialty Retailer: Banking on a Golden Opportunity
This specialty retailer worked an old and tested idea into a roaring specialty retail success. by Emily Lambert
To be inducted into the Specialty Retail Hall of Fame as Specialty Retailer of the Year is no easy feat, especially in this economy. The retailer, chosen from nominations submitted by industry professionals, needs to demonstrate a number of successful attributes including a strong commitment to the company mission. Tim Oldfield, CEO of Gold Buyers/Gold Rush, does precisely that. Gold Buyers/Gold Rush, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, states its mission is to be the largest gold recycling company in the world, through a caring and passionate workforce—and Tim Oldfield, sticks to this mission passionately.
Gold Buyers/Gold Rush (the name of the company varies depending upon what country is being referenced) has 705 retail outlets worldwide in 35 different countries with 2,500 employees. In North America alone, there are 180 retail carts in operation under the Gold Buyer name.
Tim Oldfield’s entrepreneurial days began in 1998, when he took a concept popular in his native country, Australia, and brought it to America. He sold secondhand goods through a company called Cash Converters.
In 2008, Gold Buyers/Gold Rush was born by taking the seed from the most successful part of Cash Converters and planting it. “I asked my partner, ‘What’s the best part of the second hand business?’ The answer was, ‘gold,’” says Oldfield.
“We buy broken gold and break up gold,” says Oldfield. “We refine it and sell it. We buy it for less than New York spot value, and then refine it in Switzerland, and sell it as gold bouillon and/or gold coins,” he says.
While Cash Converters catered to a primarily male demographic between the ages of 25-45, buying gold came with a new target market: women. And what better place to be than the common area in a shopping center for that demographic, thought Oldfield. “Women are comfortable in the mall,” he says.
Not only are women given a convenient and safe environment to exchange their gold, shopping centers benefit from women receiving their cash in the very place they want to spend it.
The idea was tested on three carts: Chesapeake Square Mall in Chesapeake, VA, Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach, VA and Burlington Mall in Burlington, MA. The reaction: a golden opportunity for expansion. Locations spread to other parts of Virginia and Massachusetts, and by the end of 2008, to the state of California. Locations also moved to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Over the years, 32 countries followed suit.
Beneath this vast enterprise is Oldfield’s business philosophy: “Keep it simple and professional.” This translates not only to the actual exchange—“We have a strong culture to be honest and open with every customer every step of the way”—but to what employees wear to work. At Gold Buyers/Gold Rush, you will find staff in professional uniform.
Keeping it simple has been important to expansion as well. The exchange of gold can easily be duplicated in other shopping centers, states and countries, says Oldfield. “With diamonds, that would be too complicated. With gold, it is easy to train. It’s all the same gold in every country. Just different purities,” he says.
And no matter what country, state, or community gold is exchanged in, it benefits the environment and the community as a whole. “Gold being mined is a dirty business,” says Oldfield. When gold is exchanged, it is recycled back into the system.
Oldfield also gives back to the community through charities. “A lot of women give us stones in their jewelry. We only pay for the metal. Any stones we get, we sell and donate those proceeds to charity,” he says. Chosen charities relate specifically to women, such as cervical cancer research.
For everyone involved, it’s a golden opportunity. For Tim Oldfield, the Hall of Fame recognition is more than an award, “it’s an honor,” he says.