BREAK ROOM A one-on-one conversation with an industry impresario
Mark Thompson is an
Orlando, Fla.-based former
real estate broker who recently
launched the GroceryAnchored.
com platform, which focuses
exclusively on grocery-anchored
real estate nationally.
Jon Springer: Welcome to the Break
Room, Mark. What’s the big idea behind
Mark Thompson: In the current paradigm,
if you want to be real estate-informed,
you’re forced to buy an expensive,
draconian “cable package” with tons of
unnecessary channels, none of which are
that good. GroceryAnchored members want
to understand the grocery trends, deals and
comps from across the country. That option
didn’t exist until we created it. Said another
way, we sensed the market’s fatigue at
watching “Weekend at Bernie’s II” reruns,
so we created “The Sopranos” for grocery-anchored brokers, buyers, tenants, owners,
banks and ambient stakeholders. Give the
website ;; minutes a day and your team
will have institutional-level expertise. It’s a
What are a few things about real estate
that every grocer should know?
We have consulted with half a dozen
banners or so. Here’s what we know: Real
estate departments are grossly undervalued,
from top to bottom. We don’t understand
it. Second, banners need to get closer
to their landlords and, speci;cally, the
decision-makers. Figure out who the good
ones are and make their life easy. There is
huge undiscovered ROI in this very basic
From a real estate investor’s perspective,
what makes grocery-anchored shopping
One in seven Americans walked into a
grocery store today. The feedback loop in
the grocery industry allows these banners
to make rapid adjustments, thereby
maintaining the center-of-the-retail-ecosystem status. People like to make a big
deal out of delivery and don’t realize Harris
Teeter invented delivery in the ;;;;s. What
about pickup? The original grocery stores
were all designed to be exclusively “pickup.”
Throughout time, quality grocers make
adjustments with keeping people coming to
the real estate. That won’t change.
It would seem, according to your
research, that there have been quite
a few grocery-anchored deals lately.
What’s driving all the buying and selling?
The more we uncover, the more bullish we are
on the product type. The GroceryAnchored.
com team tracks every “for sale” and “sold”
deal across the country. Right now, there are
about ;;; on the market, which equates to
about ;;.; billion in grocery-anchored real
estate for sale. There’s not one thing I can
point to that is driving buying and selling. It’s
a very fundamental market.
The Southeast has been the scene of
a lot of new supermarket development
lately, including incursions from Publix,
Lidl and Wegmans. How are things
holding up there?
When you look across the country, there
are just under ;;; grocery stores in some
phase of development. ... Most notably, Aldi
continues to reinvest and go vertical at a
staggering pace, with ;; di;erent shovels
in the ground. Publix has ;; deals in some
form of development phase, while Sprouts
boasts ;;. People don’t realize that Sprouts
is breaking through the ;;;-unit mark this
year through Southeast expansion. Overall,
grocery retail development is in good shape.
You’re a former Division I college
basketball player and a graduate
assistant coach at the University of
South Carolina. How is the food retail
business like basketball?
I haven’t been dunked on or cursed out in
front of ;;,;;; people in the retail business,
so in that sense it’s nothing like my playing
career. I did try to take a charge on ;Kroger
real estate VP; Nick Hodge at the ICSC
Vegas Retailer Reception last year. It was
called a block. I thought it was a charge.
Burrito or burrito bowl?
Bowl, to go, flip it and open.
Best piece of business advice you
Read every day. There’s no excuse not
to have a 10,000-year-old mind.
You have the first pick in an all-time
NBA fantasy draft. Who is it?
Kurt Rambis. 1984 Finals model.