Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

One of the featured speakers at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Spring Convention, on May 24, will be Kip Tindell, the Container Store’s CEO and president.

DALLAS-After more than a quarter of a century of road tests in markets nationwide, a cottage concept packaged by a trio of organizational whizzes hasn’t lost touch with its roots nor its plan to grow 15% to 20% annually. The Container Store, edging up on three more openings, will be adding up to 25 stores in the next five years.

“The cottage industry that we’ve created is gaining so much exposure that 27 years later we feel we’re still in the right place,” Valerie Richardson, vice president of real estate tells GSR. This year, stores are opening in Natick (MA) Mall (April), Bridgeport Village in Portland, OR (August) and Lincoln Square in Bellevue, WA (November).

The North Texas-based retailer, with 33 stores in 18 markets in 13 states, has the patience and the time to wait for the right spot. Richardson says growth is a certainty, but the upcoming locations for the five-year plan is flexible, predominately based on what opening crops up in a specific market. The chain’s leaders waited 10 years to get the spot it wanted in Boston’s Chestnut Hills. It waited eight years for a White Plains, NY address and nearly three for its Manhattan block, a lease picked up from the Today’s Man bankruptcy. Richardson says “the beauty of being patient” is that the retailer is ending up with what it perceives, based on market knowledge and workups by Fort Worth-based Buxton Co., as the right spots for its concept.

There’s been talk for years of going international, even more so after it acquired its best-selling item, elfa of Sweden, in 1999, but nothing is penciled on the calendar, Richardson says. “It’s a dream of Kip (Tindell) and Garrett (Boone) that we’ll go international in five years,” she says, “but we’ve always said that.”

Beginning in 2006, Richardson says the Container Store will start testing the waters in mall-connected space. Right now, eight stores are freestanding on periphery pad sites or across the street from a mall. Six other stores are tucked into shopping centers across from mall properties. And the portfolio balance predominately is nestled into lifestyle centers and urban mixed-use developments–most often a co-tenant with top-draws like Williams-Sonoma Inc. and Crate & Barrel.

The specialty retailer typically plays to an upscale shopper with a busy, urban lifestyle that’s “time and space starved.” The Container Store, averaging 25,000 sf, crams roughly 10,000 SKUs into store-within-a-store layouts for closet, kitchen, office and laundry, organizing innovative products for a clutter attack that appeals to obsessive compulsives and organizationally challenged alike.

But, the Container Store didn’t start out large. It’s first location in Dallas was just 1,600 sf. In the mid-1990s, the trio of co-founders Kip Tindell, Garrett Boone and John Mullen decided to upsize. “We’re very comfortable right now with our store configuration,” Richardson says, “but I can’t say five years from now that we won’t be doing something different because retail has to continually evolve.”

The company’s privately held so finances aren’t readily available. Tindell, president and CEO, has said the Manhattan store pulled in $25 million in sales in 2004 or nearly double the typical store. The online store–treated just as though it was bricks and mortar–saw a 70.1% increase in sales last year. Richardson credits the spike to “the national recognition of our brand.” Revenue, she points out, isn’t funneled just into adding locations, but rather applied to all aspects of the business. “It’s understood people resources are our most precious priority,” she stresses. The growth strategy is focused on adding 15% to 20% in revenue each year, whether it’s from a new location or a spike in sales from an investment in its people, she explains.

The Container Store for six consecutive years has made Fortune magazine’s annual list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” It’s that kind of track record that won Tindell an invitation to be a featured speaker at ICSC’s annual convention in Las Vegas.

Historically, the Container Store’s best seller has been elfa, accounting for 25% of the annual sales. “It’s really the backbone of our business that shaped our merchandising,” Richardson says.

Richardson credits Sharon Tindell, the 26-year executive vice president of merchandising, with packaging the balance of the innovative lineup. The proprietary products often evolve from customer feedback or in-house suggestions. And, it’s not necessarily a short step from concept to shelf. Richardon says it took four years of trial and error to get the right clarity for a clear, plastic shoebox and right fit for the lid so the product could be stacked without toppling. Vendors, like customers, are valued, Richardson says, adding some have been in place 25 years. The Container Store distributes its goods from a 575,000-sf combo headquarters and warehouse at 500 Freeport Pkwy. in Coppell, using leased space just like its stores.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Dig Deeper


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.