Strolling the Agora: Constantly Updating Its Format And Approach To Better Serve Dealmakers, Twice Monthly Newsletter Now Stresses Subscribers Can Make Contact In Seconds

This “Strolling the Agora” is from the December 21st, 2009 issue of Shopping Center Digest, the last issue being printed in “hard copy” as it goes completely Online
We've been stressing the importance of timely, detailed, accurate information since before we first started publishing Shopping Center Digest. And the need for an organized, simple format so you can react immediately to start that deal..
So, before any other publication in the shopping center/retail industry, in 1973 we began providing contact names, mail addresses and telephone and fax numbers for each item where available; the twice-monthly newsletter format compressed production and shortened delivery time to days compared with the weeks then required by magazines.
The whole concept, design and presentation came from experienced landlords, retailers, consultants, brokers – friends and acquaintances we deal with on a daily basis. Get rid of unnecessary verbiage; present the bare facts in a simple order and abbreviated form; size of project, alphabetized by state and town; retailers by category; existing centers with space available.
An example of early input: At first, we were not considering accepting advertising. Shortly after the first twice-monthly issues, while at the then 2-day Christmas Party run annually by Melvin Simon & Associates (now Simon Property Group), it was Ken McGuire, then president of Bresler's 33 Flavors, who suggested: “Ya know, you should take advertising.” Bresler's then held that cover position for each of our special issues for years until the company was sold some 20 years later.
Most important in providing information, however, you told us, “Get rid of the fluff and puff, and then get out of the way so a dealmaker could begin to deal.” This we continue to do.
And we constantly tweaked the Digest. As projects were being developed that couldn't be categorized only on the basis of size of GLA, we added another column: Upscale Specialty, Lifestyle, Mixed-Use, Entertainment. Then we added another column dealing with Financials and Sales Reports from retailers and the many owner-developers who became public companies. 
We refined the process even more and began adding email addresses and websites to the listings, both for new and existing shopping centers, and for the retailers who were looking to expand into new markets and nationally. Again, making it even easier to begin working that deal.
Best of all, to get this to you even faster, a few years ago we started delivering it to you online, sending you an email with your username and password so when the issue was posted, you could access it immediately from your computer: while out of the office, on the road or at home. This, you told us, gave you a jump on your competitors since the information was delivered a week, 10 days, earlier than the “hard copy” being delivered through post office.
Even better, this means you can link in seconds and email someone about a deal from the Digest directly from your computer even though you're away from the office.
What are we doing now? Bluntly, this is the last hard copy of Shopping Center Digest we will be mailing to you.
Beginning with the first issue in January, our twice-monthly newsletter will be emailed online directly to you and your computer. No username, no password.
The advantages: We email it ourselves without the delay required by sending to a middleman to post online; it cuts another couple of days off important leadtime–and eliminates the problems a few subscribers reported when they were unable to access the issue after inputting the username and password. We will continue, however, with both online presentations until we're certain the kinks have been worked out.
Especially for our subscribers in foreign countries, you will now receive the issue at the same time as our domestic readers – though I have to admit the need for speed there may not be as vital.
Emailing the issue directly to you eliminates having to deal with the numerous individual post offices around the country, and their varying levels of efficiency. The one in Bellingham, WA, for example, at first refused to mail our last ICSC New York Issue because it contended we had an “incorrect” ISSN number – though it's the same one we've been using since FOREVER! – but relented “just this once” after the pleading from our local printer.
And, where it hits you, the reader, with great, personal impact, it means that we can avoid a subscription increase . maintaining the same rates we've had for the last three years.
For those readers whose companies have very strict requirements regarding size of emails, spam blockers may prevent the issues from getting through, you must inform whoever is responsible to accept Shopping Center Digest as an approved sender, perhaps adding us to your address book. 
Now a major warning to you few readers who have not yet given us your email address. Please, please, please, I beg you, send it to me so I can update your record so you don't miss a single issue. Email it to me directly at mshor@shoppingcenters.com .
And another request: Let's hear some feedback, pro and con, on the new format and approach. If you want to comment, suggest ways we can improve the Digest, and make it a better tool for you – that wouldn't hurt either. We need your input.

Further information on Shopping
Center Digest
, our weekly Eflash, Expanding Retailers,
and the annual Directory of Major Malls may
be obtained from our website, 
www.shoppingcenters.com.


Strolling the Agora was a twice-monthly column discussing trends, issues of importance, and commentary on the leasing/development aspects of the shopping center/retail chain industry in the US and Canada. Called Strolling the Agora, it was a part of Shopping Center Digest, a newsletter founded in 1973 published until September 2010. The column provided expert insight into various retail focused topics. It was primarily authored by Murray Shor, Editor & Publisher as well as industry and veteran retail experts.  A smattering of archived columns are presented here for your reading “pleasure”. It's an interesting “look back” at what were current hot topics at the time with regard to shopping center/retail industry focus, development and leasing expansions and processes, retail mix, opinions and more.
About Murray Shor:
Reporting and writing on the shopping center/retail industry since the late ’60s. Began as editor at Chain Store Age, founded Shopping Center World (now Retail Traffic), Shopping Center Digest “The Locations Newsletter” in 1973, and the Directory of Major Malls in 1979. Each issue of Shopping Center Digest contained a column called Strolling the Agora which provides commentary on trends, activity, issues of concern to development and leasing in the shopping center/retail industry.
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