Haunted Shopping Haunts

Source: insights.colliers.com

halloween nightWant to meet a real-life ghost while you’re out shopping for your own ghoulish costume this Halloween? Well, you’ll want to check out this nifty list of haunted retail venues where you can get the scare of their lives (depending, of course, on how you feel about paranormal activity).

It turns out that, in some corners of America, you can get a fright in the malls, shops and stores you visit every day. In some cases, a shopping center was built over a reputed grave or even sacred ground. In another, a store was the site of a tragic end to grisly tale of love-gone-wrong. Whatever the lore, these retail venues have over time become unwitting hosts to ghosts and other haunted spirits who from time to time assert themselves to unsuspecting (but quickly believing) visitors.

Thanks to Susan Piperato of NREI, you can check out some stores, shopping malls and little shops across America where you’re likely to run into some spirits of the dead.

For instance, many visitors to Seattle expect to encounter flying fish when they head to Pike Place Market. But they probably don’t count on running into the ghost of an elderly woman, who’s frequently seen wandering the complex at night.

pikeplacemarket

At the Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia, Calif., employees frequently discover a little boy, dressed like he was out of the 1930s, wandering among the stores and escalators.

santaanitamall

Apparent tragedy hit this Kmart in South Los Angeles back when it was still a Zody’s store. As the story goes, a jilted boyfriend made a young couple meet a grisly end. Now, four spirits are said to roam the building.

kmart

As for this Walmart in Oxnard, Calif., workers at night are said to have run into a little girl in a blue dress and with two pigtail braids. It is believed she met a tragic end at the very location the store was built.

walmart

Not spooked enough? See the full list of “Haunted Retail Venues” from NREI. And then next time you’re out shopping, expect the unexpected!

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Is Your Business Eligible for a Government Grant?

Source: entrepreneur.com ~ Author: Michelle Goodman

computer & womenNonprofits aren’t the only businesses eligible for government grants. Since 2010, for-profit company Canopy Apps has received $2 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to develop translation technology for medical professionals working with patients who don’t speak English.

Jerrit Tan, CEO of New York City-based Canopy, believes more entrepreneurs should take advantage of the billions of dollars in business grants offered by government agencies, which can buy a startup valuable R&D time and boost credibility.

“You’re literally turning stacks of paper into money for your business,” Tan says, referring to grant applications. “And the government usually does not take equity.”

Of course, nabbing local, state and federal grants involves more than cutting and pasting your business plan into an application. Here’s what you should consider.

Aim high. A revolutionary idea is essential, says Tan, whose translation app targets the language barriers that plague 15 percent of U.S. patients. “Incremental ideas usually don’t win,” he says. “It’s almost like the crazier, the better–within reason. This is the government, after all.”

It’s essential to be able to quantify the effect your product will have on the market, says Amy Baxter, an Atlanta pediatric emergency doctor who in 2009 scored $1.1 million in NIH funding for Buzzy, a pain-blocking device used for administering injections to children. “Make it clear how big the impact of the problem you want to solve is,” she says, “and how inadequate the previous solutions are. Even better is to have a way to measure how well your solution is working.”

Put in the time. For large federal grants, expect to spend several months preparing an application.

“It’s not a fast process,” says Michael Patterson, CEO of Graphene Frontiers in Philadelphia, an advanced materials and nanotechnology company that has won 10 grants from local, state and federal agencies totaling nearly $1.3 million. Payments can be slow to arrive, too. To tide you over, he says, “you have to have funding from other sources or be able to get other funding quickly, whether that’s revenue or equity investments or something else.”

Find the right opportunities. “There are grants out there that can be more trouble than they’re worth,” Patterson warns. Some have big payouts but overly restrictive stipulations on how the money can be used. Others, meanwhile, seem almost too good to be true, such as the $930,000 Graphene has received from the National Science Foundation, including a match on outside investments of 50 cents on the dollar.

But don’t discount smaller grants. Many have less stringent application requirements and spending restrictions. A $2,000 grant Graphene received from a Pennsylvania economic-development program was designed to support larger grant-writing opportunities. Graphene used the money to bankroll proposal efforts for a hefty Department of Defense grant.

Get external feedback. When pursuing a grant, Canopy runs its application by “as many smart people as we can find,” Tan says. The more removed from the business reviewers are, the more likely they’ll be to find the hidden flaws in the proposal.

Outsiders may also come up with new commercialization ideas. In Canopy’s case, that meant selling the translation app to the legal, construction, travel and education sectors, industries the NIH has no vested interest in. As Tan points out, even with a grant, “it’s still up to you to find other ways to commercialize your product.”

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Retail Industry Groups Showing Strength

Source: news.investors.com ~ Author: Vincent Mao

After lagging earlier in the year, some retail groups are now hanging tough amid a volatile market.

dollar treeIn Thursday’s IBD, five groups from the retail space were ranked in the top 40 of the 197 industry groups. That’s up from three at the start of the month. While retail stocks have underperformed the market for most of the year, they started to show relative strength in late July.

The Retail-Discount & Variety group ranked No. 8 Thursday, up from No. 13 three weeks prior. The group is rising amid consolidation among dollar stores. In late July, Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) agreed to merge with Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR). But Dollar General (NYSE:DG) has tried unsuccessfully to step in and buy Family Dollar. Dollar General has offered a higher bid for Family Dollar.

Five Below (NASDAQ:FIVE), which has the highest Composite Rating in the discount group, is trying to bounce higher this week after falling for four weeks straight. The stock recently entered Sector Leaders, which is IBD’s most demanding stock screen.

The Retail-Restaurants group jumped to No. 15 in Thursday’s edition, up from No. 42 three weeks ago. A number of leading restaurant stocks are covered in the Stock Spotlight column, today on B5.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG), one of the highest-rated stocks in the restaurants group, will report second-quarter results Monday.

The Retail-Apparel/Shoes/Accessories group moved up to No. 18 from No. 28. Land’s End (NASDAQ:LE) is staging an upside reversal at its 10-week moving average. The stock is in its first test of the line since breaking out in September. The company was spun off from Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) in April.

Burlington Stores (NYSE:BURL) is also in a test of its 10-week line. The stock had a failed breakout from a cup within a larger consolidation in late June, but staged a sharp comeback after that.

Some stocks of mini-markets and supermarkets have rallied amid market weakness.

Pantry (NASDAQ:PTRY) climbed to its best levels in about four years this week after bouncing off its 10-week moving average. It has shown solid accumulation in recent months.

Casey’s General Stores (NASDAQ:CASY) scored a record high early in the week. The stock cleared a 77.68 buy point from a long consolidation Monday in heavy trading.

The Retail-Super/Mini Markets group bolted to No. 32 from No. 68 three weeks before that.

On Wednesday, retailers were dealt some bad news. Retail sales fell by 0.3% in September, according to the Commerce Department. That was the first drop since January. Electronics was a rare bright spot. Strong demand for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) latest iPhones helped electronic sales to grow 3.4%.

Citing a “tougher sales environment,” Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), the world’s largest retailer, trimmed its sales growth forecast to 2% to 3% from about 3% to 5%. Consumer spending is important, as it accounts for two-thirds of economic activity.

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Job growth results in more office leasing, higher rents

C21_2014_library-5134Source: bizjournals.com ~ Author: Scott Bridges

A rise in employment in Southern California has resulted in the filling of vacant office space, data shows.

Office leasing, considered a lagging indicator of the economy, is up and so are the rents, as entertainment, media and technology companies have lately been moving in as tenants, according to real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, which compiled the office market data.

“We had an amazing third quarter,” Petra Durnin, managing director of research for Cushman & Wakefield, told the Los Angeles Times. “Things are finally looking up.”

“There was a dramatic shift in the third quarter with explosive growth that elevated market fundamentals to an unprecedented level,” according to the firm.

Office vacancy in Southern California — from Los Angeles County to San Diego County — dropped to 15.7 percent in the third quarter, the lowest level since 2008. Meanwhile, new leases have soared 55 percent thus far this year, representing 21 million square feet. During the same period a year ago, just 13.5 million square feet had been leased.

The net gain in occupied office space, called “absorption,” is considered a more precise growth indicator, and during the first three quarters of 2014, the net gain in occupied office space has been 4.2 million square feet — the largest expansion since 2006. The Times reports that by year’s end, gains are expected to rise to their highest post-911 levels.

But there’s still a ways to go.

“There are still a lot of buildings with vacancy,” Russ Cooper, managing director of office landlord Shorenstein Properties, told the newspaper. “Not all boats have been lifted, but it does feel better.”

But here’s some more good news — the Los Angeles Daily News cites a study by the Kyser Center for Economic Research that indicates that job gains in L.A. County next year will finally put the region back at pre-recession employment levels. And that means more office leasing.

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Rental Rates at Malls Rise; Vacancy Flat

retail commercial

Customers shopped at a newly opened J.C. Penney, the retailer’s first Brooklyn store, in August. Getty Images

Source: online.wsj.com ~ Author: Robbie Whelan

Rental rates at malls and strip shopping centers ticked up slightly in the third quarter, but vacancy rates remained flat as the slow recovery in retail real estate continued to plod along.

Asking rents at regional malls rose 0.5% in the quarter to $40.51 a square foot, up 1.8% from a year earlier, according to data released Thursday by real-estate research company Reis Inc. Mall vacancies remained at 7.9% for the fourth quarter in a row.

Strip centers saw rents rise 0.4% in the quarter to $17.06 a square foot, up 1.8% from a year earlier. Third-quarter vacancy remained unchanged from the previous quarter at 10.3%, slightly lower than the average vacancy rate of 10.74% over the past five years.

The numbers are a sign of continued pain in the retail real estate market. Prices have risen quickly for the highest-quality assets, including the largest, most productive malls and boutique spaces on main thoroughfares in big cities, but they remain sluggish for more run-of-the-mill properties in less attractive locations.

“The last few years have been a tough slog for retail. There’s still a hangover from the recession for consumers,” says Ryan Severino, an economist with Reis.

“It’s left a lot of consumers with a limited ability to spend in a discretionary sense, and that’s reflected in both the slow rent growth and vacancy not really going down,” he adds.

Shopping-center vacancies rose fastest in Chicago (1.4%), Wichita (1.2%) and Tacoma, Wash. (1.2%). They fell fastest in Palm Beach, Fla. (-1.7%), San Jose (-1.2%) and Sacramento (-1.1%).

The pace of construction of new shopping centers is also close to a record low, Reis said. Retail landlords have added 3.99 million square feet of new shopping centers so far this year, including 1.3 million in the third quarter.

The previous low was set in 2010, when builders added 4.5 million square feet over the whole year.

“We used to build about 2,000 shopping centers a year in this country. Now it’s just a few hundred,” said David Henry, the chief executive of Kimco Realty Corp., a shopping-center owner based in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“Fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle are powering new leases for us,” he added. “We’re smiling again after a couple of tough years since 2009. We’re happy with the fundamentals.”

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.