Brick and Mortar Retail is Not Dying

Brick and mortar retailers are closing in record numbers this year, but if you take a closer look at the list of retailers closing their doors this year you will notice approximately half of all the closures are by national retailers such as Payless Shoes, Radio Shack and The Limited. Many believe that e-commerce is rapidly taking over the retail industry and will eventually lead to the death of the brick and mortar retailer.

E-commerce is definitely growing at record levels, but online sales are still only a small percentage of the total retail picture. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2016, e-commerce accounted for $389.9 billion of the total $4.849 trillion in retail sales, or roughly 7.8% of total retail sales. Nine out of ten of the top U.S. retailers are brick and mortar stores, with Amazon being the only exception. Among those nine retailers, all but one generated sales growth in 2017.

Noteworthy is that the only non-brick and mortar retailer, Amazon, just made a major commitment to brick and mortar with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods.

While most of the top-nine brick and mortar retailers have an online presence, sales at the store location are much more profitable than their e-commerce orders. Average store margins for online sales decreased steadily this year to approximately 9%. Contrary to popularly held belief, the profitability of their brick and mortar locations is helping to subsidize the online businesses.

Millennials and the post-Millennials “Generation Z” prefer to shop at a small local retailer. According to a recent survey conducted by Accenture Research, over 70% of Millennials and Generation Z consumers said brick and mortar stores are their preferred shopping preference. A 2016 Deloitte survey discovered that 4 out of 10 consumers polled planned to shop in local independent stores for the holidays, even if items are more expensive. The publication Retail Dive recently performed a survey asking why consumers prefer to shop in stores instead of online. The main reason given was a desire to see and try out products before purchasing, followed by the ability to take home products immediately, return items easily, enjoy the in-store experience, and the ability to pose questions to store associates. Out of all the consumers surveyed, only 7% responded that they only shop online.

Although the reports of the apocalypse of brick and mortar retail may be overstated, we cannot ignore the increase in online shopping. The successful brick and mortar retailer will need to understand the current trends and shopping habits of its customers. Studies show that approximately 80% of shoppers do online research before making a purchase at a brick and mortar store. Having a website is a definite requirement for retailers. The website needs to be user-friendly and detailed as to the type of product carried. By posting videos on websites it is easy to explain the type of product carried and what makes the retailer better than the competition. It also helps to keep the attention of potential customers researching the retail location. Product testimonials are another important item to add to websites to gain the confidence of the customer.

Having a strong social media presence is also imperative to success. Approximately 40% of individuals between the ages of 25-44 use social media to research products before making a purchase. It is important to use Facebook and Instagram to announce new products and promotions. It’s also a great way to get feedback from customers as to what they like or dislike.

Retailers should monitor social media sites and promptly reply to questions to stay in touch with customers. Online blogs are also a great way to stay in touch with customers and to keep them informed of what’s happening at the retail location. Most online advertising is very inexpensive and a tremendous way to stay in touch with your customer base. If products are being sold online, it is a good idea to advertise in-store specials to encourage customer visits to the retail location. Once they visit the retailer, it opens other opportunities to sell them even more products.

The successful brick and mortar retailer will need to have a thorough understanding of their customer base and buying habits. This is one area where e-commerce has an advantage and does a much better job than their brick and mortar counterparts. Amazon, for example, does a great job tracking customer purchases and what times of year they shop. Brick and mortar retailers need to put more focus on who their customer is, their buying habits and personal information as well. When is their birthday or anniversary? One way to do this is to offer a discount on a future purchase if they answer a survey. The survey should ask questions to help you understand what the customers preferences are, important dates for the customer, and what they like or dislike about the store.

A recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation revealed that 85% of shoppers will abandon their intended purchases if prompt assistance is not provided. Many also valued a personalized experience and smart recommendations. The successful retailer must offer their customers a VIP experience. Staff should be trained to engage with customers in a friendly manner. Offer little perks to personalize the buying experience, such as free cups of coffee. Offer warranties and guarantees that let customers know that this is the right place to do business. The return policy needs to make returning product hassle free and quick.

Brick and mortar retail is not dying; however, it is going through a huge transformation. In order to survive, retailers are going to have to adapt to changes required by consumers’ buying habits, become proficient in the use of social media and have a better understanding of their customers and their buying habits.


Hilco Fixture Finders to Partner with Eaton Hudson on Asset Sale For St. Joseph’s College

Northbrook, IL – August 2, 2017 – Hilco Fixture Finders, LLC (, in partnership with Eaton Hudson Inc. ( announced today that they have begun the disposition sale process of selected assets and operational items at St. Joseph’s College.

Located in Rensselaer, Indiana, Saint Joseph’s College is a coeducational, private, Catholic Liberal arts college.  They were voted by the Princeton Review as a “Best Midwestern College” in 2017, but are temporarily suspending academic operations.  Assets to be sold include but are not limited to furniture, departmental items, labs, IT equipment, a radio station, athletic equipment, athletic departments (basketball court, football bleachers, press boxes, etc.), a library, vehicles and maintenance equipment. There are also antiques, memorabilia, trophies and historical items, in addition to the standard operational items of a college. The asset sale is being conducted to support the future planning efforts of Saint Joseph’s College. Details are posted on the Hilco Fixture Finders website at and additional information will be available on site at St. Josephs College.

In the meantime, St. Joseph’s College is working diligently towards redesigning their core academic curriculum, and plan to relaunch operations as soon as possible.  Please see the “Phoenix Project” to keep up with the progress that St. Joseph’s College is making towards these efforts.  (

Scott Hoek, CEO of Hilco Fixture Finders said, “We’re planning to successfully manage this important project for St. Joseph’s College, with the goal of delivering maximum value for all of their assets.  We recognize St. Joseph’s College as a quality educational institute, and will work hard to be good stewards, protecting and caring for the foundation they have laid down over their many years of operation.”

The campus Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment sale will open to the public starting Monday August 14, 2017 at the college’s Fieldhouse.  In addition, there will be an online auction of school memorabilia, trophies, and awards for the alumni in the coming weeks.  Alumni and family can get additional information as event details are finalized by visiting or directly from the college.

About Hilco Fixture Finders:   Hilco Fixture Finders ( is the premier fixture and equipment liquidation company in the United States, serving as a one-stop shop for all fixture related needs in either closed, closing, or remodeling locations. Hilco Fixture Finders offers a full suite of FF&E related services that includes purchasing and selling of custom pulled used Lozier brand gondola shelving; store distribution center, and warehouse FF&E sales and/or clean-out services; warehouse services, including onsite fixture packing, shipping, refurbishing and storage for future client use; and, an extensive inventory of used fixtures such as gondola shelving, racking systems, material handling equipment, and other supermarket, restaurant, and retail store FF&E.  Hilco Fixture Finders provides client’s fee for service, guaranteed return, and purchase and sale alternative transaction structures designed to maximize the return on the value of their assets.  Hilco Fixture Finders is part of Northbrook, IL based Hilco Merchant Resources (, one of the world’s leading retail disposition experts providing a wide range of analytical, advisory, asset monetization, and capital investment services to help define and execute a retailer’s strategic initiatives. 

About Eaton Hudson, Inc.: Eaton Hudson specializes in strategic management solutions for leading retail companies in the area of asset disposition, inventory valuation and jewelry liquidation.  Their range of services helps young, mature and distressed retail businesses manage their retail inventory, assets and real estate expansion strategies. We work collaboratively with retailers to design and execute successful disposition sales, and to restructure retail real estate portfolios to maximize value and minimize liabilities.  Launched by industry veterans of the Eaton Department Stores of Toronto and Hudson Capital Partners and later joined by former executives of Silverman Consultants, our clients benefit from our financial strength and expertise. We know how to partner with retailers, financial sponsors, strategic buyers, managers, lenders and advisors to develop creative and transparent structures that align interests, enhance liquidity and create positive outcomes.  Eaton Hudson has been providing innovative and strategic solutions for the disposition of excess, obsolete and discontinued inventory and other assets for nearly fifteen years. The company has offices in Toronto, Atlanta, Boston and Charleston, and employs consultants nationwide.




Eaton Hudson’s Collegiate Asset Disposition Services

Eaton Hudson’s Collegiate Asset Disposition Services  

Prepares for Distressed College Market

Atlanta, GA – August 14, 2017 – Eaton Hudson Inc. ( sees a rise in demand for its Collegiate Asset Disposition Services (CADS) as public and private universities in the U.S. this year are expected to experience the slowest net tuition revenue growth and a tripling of institutional closings this year.

An analysis of schools that have recently shut down, or are facing an imminent closure, shows that certain kinds of private colleges, such as small, rural colleges that serve comparatively small communities, appear to be facing the most difficult struggles to recruit enough students to stay afloat. Declining enrollments – fueled by affordability and the heightened attention on the student loan debt issue, and increased competition from online competitors for the most part to blame.

Even the smallest of institution closings have complicated and often overlooked steps to take, paying off creditors, transferring endowments, informing regulators and the selling of assets. As a result, presidents and trustees can be uncertain how to proceed.

Eaton Hudson recently partnered with Hilco Fixture Finders to run St. Joseph’s College, a Catholic Liberal arts college in Rensselaer, Indiana.

“Unfortunately, this is just the latest one in a string to come, particularly among these,” said Jim Schaye, CEO of Eaton Hudson.

We’re not expecting wholesale closures across the sector but a rise of closures of smaller, private liberal arts schools that are largely dependent on tuition and can’t rely on large endowments. These colleges for the most part have expanded tuition discounts to draw in more students, and for small private schools that rely on tuition for revenue, not endowments, this discount rate is financially unsustainable.”

Moody’s Investment Services predicted closures to triple in with as many as 15 institutions a year to shut their doors for good by 2017.






August 9, 2017 — Tampa and Sarasota, FL — Bond and Company Jewelers Inc., operator of four retail jewelry stores under the Bond Jewelers and Bond Diamonds brands, today engaged Eaton Hudson to conduct its court-ordered bankruptcy liquidation sale. The sale began today and was ordered by the bankruptcy court as a result of Bond’s Chapter 11 filing earlier this month.

Inventory valued at approximately $12 million will be liquidated at below market prices in a sale that is expected to last approximately 12-18 weeks. Merchandise to be sold will include women’s and men’s fine and fashion jewelry, featuring diamonds, other precious stones, gold and silver, as well as a wide selection of watches. The liquidation sale will involve 4 Bond’s store locations in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Brandon and Sarasota.

The Bond Jewelry sale is being managed by a national jewelry liquidation and asset recovery firm Eaton Hudson Jewelry Advisors.

“We would like to express our appreciation to all of the Bond employees who have invested considerable time and effort into building this fine jewelry chain,” said Marvin Shavlan President of Bond and Company Jewelers Inc., “It is unfortunate that Bond Jewelers has to be liquidated after all of these years, and we will work with the employees and personnel to ensure a smooth process.

Bob Epstein, CEO at Eaton Hudson added, “Over the course of its 57 year history, Bond Jewelers has built a reputation for selling fine jewelry. This liquidation sale offers a unique opportunity to acquire quality jewelry items at extraordinary values.”

Bond Jewelers Inc. has been operating under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code since July 27, 2017 (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida).

About Bond and Company Jewelers Inc..

Founded in Florida in 1960, Bond Jewelers is one of the largest specialty retailers of jewelry in Tampa market. The Company operates 3 stores under the Bond Jewelers brand, and 1 store under the Bond Diamonds banner. For more information and store locations, visit .

About Eaton Hudson Jewelry Advisors.

Eaton Hudson provides a variety of services to jewelry related retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. The core of its business is effectively and efficiently liquidating jewelry inventories for both healthy and distressed companies. For more information, please visit the company’s website at