Michael Terpkosh

President, City Square Partners LLC

A wholesale, retail and supply-chain leader with demonstrated success developing and executing strategic initiatives in category strategy, merchandising, marketing, and consumer insights. Strong record creating innovative programs to meet the challenges of ever-changing industries. Experience consulting with manufacturers and retailers domestic and abroad. Leader of many company-wide initiatives delivering enhanced business efficiencies while creating new sources of company revenue. Managed teams from 12 to 175 associates locate across the United States.

  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Are store brands set for a big growth spurt?

    Retailer private labels have done an excellent job positioning themselves with consumers over the last few years. Gone are the days when the "best" private labels were b-grade product in the package. Private labels now offer excellent product quality, unique flavors and position themselves as another major brand on the shelf. During the pandemic, consumers were looking for more traditional products at value pricing and private label fulfilled the need. Private label has also moved into the natural and organic space and the consumers have positively responded to these products. As long as retailers keep their eye on private label quality and meeting consumer trends, it is all upside for private labels into the future.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2020

    Should grocers keep paying their associates like heroes?

    All of us that have worked in the grocery retailing and wholesaling business know margins are very thin. However, during this time of absolute need (and big sales increases for the retailers) the higher wages should continue. These workers are risking themselves and their families by coming into work everyday to help feed America. I was surprised and somewhat shocked Kroger made this move this early in pandemic. This was a mistake, especially when you consider Walmart and others are extending the higher wages. In the end, the workers will decide where to work and they will remember and recognize with loyalty the retailers that have stood by them.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2020

    Americans are shopping more impulsively online

    I question the definition of "impulse purchasing." If a consumer can't get an item somewhere, or it is in limited supply, then the online purchase is not necessarily an impulse so much as it is taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in-stock at home. As other RetailWire members have stated, if you can't get an item or a service because businesses are closed, you don't have another choice but to buy online. For my family, we have made some true impulse purchases online, but we are also buying products that in the past we have not needed but now need. For example, dog clippers. We have two dogs in need of their summer cut and all the local grooming shops are closed. Wish me luck, I will be the canine barber this weekend.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2020

    Is it safer to shop at farmers’ markets than in supermarkets?

    There are great opportunities for farmers' markets to effectively work during the pandemic, but following the key social distancing measures, masks, etc. should be required. Plus allowing only so many people to walk-thru at a time, in a one-way direction. I know some farmers' markets (in tighter spaces) have moved to online order and pick-up. I'm not sure how this will work, but they are trying. For any retailer or market, crowd control is essential because I am not sure consumers will self-police.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    What has made Walmart a shutdown star?

    To be transparent, I have never been a Walmart fan and rarely shop their stores. However, many retailers can learn from the nimble, strategic response of Walmart during the pandemic to meet the needs of the consumer. Walmart certainly has not been flawless during these difficult times, but they have raised the bar on how to flex their business model very quickly to react to the changing retail environment. The result is an enhanced positive view of Walmart by many consumers.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    Retailers must post the rules outside the business, reinforce the rules in any marketing and then have a person greeting customers at the door to double-check for compliance. It is helpful if local or state governments set the rules, but this will not always be the case.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is it time to move beyond ‘now more than ever’ COVID-19 commercials?

    I believe America is ready for different messaging. New messaging should be somewhere between the tone of current ads and the previous normal of "everyone is out in public having a good time in crowds" ads. Consumers will appreciate some new creativity and please, please retailers stop putting your CEOs on camera talking about everything they are doing to help America. At this point, these ads are becoming more self-serving than showing what is beneficial to consumers.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is curbside pickup just getting started?

    This is huge opportunity for retailers across all channels. In some parts of the country, as malls and stores try to open, consumers are not coming out in big crowds to shop. Curbside pickup offers consumers more peace of mind about their shopping safety while allowing them to get out of the house. I believe that even after consumers go back to work, the idea of curbside pickup on the way home will remain a strong trend in the months to come.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2020

    Is now the right time for retailers to actively pursue AI?

    I have said for a very long time that the use of AI in retailing is table stakes for the future success of retail. The majority of retailers have so much data available they are swimming in it. The only way to successfully activate against this data is with the thoughtful use of AI. Retailers must move towards using AI to better understand their business and use the analytics to effectively market to their customers. Retailing, both online and brick-and-mortar, are being required to change because of the current business environment. It is more critical than ever for retailers to find new, creative ways to engage the consumer. AI can help.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2020

    Is it okay to profit from a pandemic?

    Reasonable profits with an effort to support communities and customers = good. Exorbitant pricing in the face of a disaster = bad. Being creative making fashionable masks and t-shirts = good capitalism. As long as these creative entrepreneurs do this in a tasteful way, they are answering the needs/wants of the consumer. We will see a lot of this in the weeks and months to come. Businesses must monitor this, but in the end businesses need to answer to the wants of their customers.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2020

    Should grocers close their doors to customers for safety’s sake?

    This question is really tough! Workers need to be protected, especially from customers that don't seem to have a clue. However, I don't know that closing grocery stores and only allowing pick-up or delivery is the answer. Were a grocer to do this, a big piece of that grocery retailer's current customers would move to shop somewhere else (like convenience or dollar stores) instead of trying to order online. Before it comes to this, maybe retailers need to get tougher with customers by limiting the number of shoppers in a store at one time, requiring gloves and masks, taking temperatures, reinforcing current rules and adopting additional restrictions.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2020

    What will be retail’s new normal if social distancing stays in place until 2022?

    Retail leaders need to look to their state government and health officials for direction. For most of the United States this has worked to try to control the virus. Business-as-usual may not exist for months to come. I expect that retail verticals will want/need to take additional precautions or will be required to take additional precautions. We saw in China retailers taking the temperature of every customer before they entered the store. I believe retail will get back to opening stores, but with limits to the number of customers in stores or you need to make a reservation for a time to shop. It just won't be business-as-usual, but business will be conducted.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2020

    Is remote working here for good?

    Do I expect a major shift to remote working? Maybe. I was talking with a long-time retail/wholesale business executive friend of mine last week who over many years was adamantly opposed to her team working remote. Everyone needed an assigned cubical, everyone must be at work everyday, etc. My friend and her team have now been remote for about a month and she really likes it. Her team had some bumps the first week, but now the team is just as productive getting the job done as when the team was "trapped" in an office. They all miss the daily social interaction, but they still operate as a well-oiled machine supporting retail stores. So when I say "maybe" to the major shift to remote work question it is because management must make the mind-shift and strategic commitment to remote working. Their great employees will follow and get the job done to support their retail stores.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2020

    The Vuori COVID-19 story: Closed stores and open minds

    I applaud Vuori's approach to engage employees during the downturn in business to offer training to enhance employee business expertise. To me, the areas most lacking for retail employees today are culture, service and community. These areas are most lacking because they are the hardest for a retailer to teach and to effectively teach these subjects means a retailer must expand beyond the typical training time devoted to new employees. Many of us have said for a very long time that proper, in-depth training is the key to happy, customer-focused employees.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2020

    Amazon puts new online grocery customers on hold, reconfigures Whole Foods

    I know we are in a time of crisis and everyone is doing the best they can, but Amazon continues to stub their toe with their customers. When you are the biggest in your business and you make claims/promises to consumers, many who paid for Amazon because of its fast, reliable service, you must deliver the goods (literally). Others are having problems too, for example, Instacart. When the dust settles I predict a downturn in online sales because of the poor service and poor quality experience. Plus consumers will want come out of their homes, want to be in public and once again enjoy the shopping experience.

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