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NRF podcast

Retail Gets Real

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Retail Gets Real
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Retail impacts everyone, every day, everywhere

NRF’s podcast features unfiltered, insightful conversations with the industry’s most interesting people. Hear retail executives, industry experts, entrepreneurs and influencers discuss trends, their career stories and the future of retail. 

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Who should we interview next? If you know a retailer with a story to tell, please get in touch: Email podcast@nrf.com.


Episode 81: Sur La Table: From cooking class to loyal customer

Sur La Table’s CEO Billy May talks about how culinary classes help the company acquire customers and keep them coming back for more.

Episode 80: The Brass Owl — Rallying the local business community

Independent retailer Nicole Panettieri on advocating for her community through her small business.

Episode 79: The evolution of retail with the host of MSNBC’s “Your Business”

JJ Ramberg talks about the importance of product, experience and community to drive a successful brand.

Episode 78: Creating the retail experience at PGA TOUR Superstore

Chief Marketing Officer Matt Corey explains the use of tech to design a stand-out experience both online and offline.

Episode 77: Retail trends that will gain traction in 2019

From Shop.org 2018: Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg, SVP of commerce and content at SapientRazorfish, chats about the tech trends that will shape the holiday season and 2019.

Episode 76: For the Pin — Discovery and the Pinterest shopper

Pinterest’s Head of Retail Strategy Amy Vener chats about how the social platform works with retailers to bring products onto the platform so consumers can easily discover them.

Episode 75: ThirdLove — Using data to create the perfect bra

An interview with Ra’el Cohen from ThirdLove about how the ecommerce brand is reimagining the bra shopping experience.

Episode 74: How Brandless is reimagining modern consumption

Brandless is “redefining what it means to be a brand,” says co-founder and CEO Tina Sharkey. Learn how the innovative retail concepts “scales kindness.”

Episode 73: Generation Z is shaping the back-to-class shopping season

NRF Director of Retail and Consumer Insights Katherine Cullen shares data and trends revealed from the back-to-school shopping season.

Episode 72: Intel’s innovation leader on the future of retail tech

An interview with Intel’s Stacey Shulman, chief innovation officer for the retail solutions division. Learn about the macro trends impacting retail today from AI to urbanism.

Episode 71: Boon Supply — Where fundraising meets retail

An interview with Lily Kanter, CEO of Boon Supply, about the innovative business model where retail meets fundraising.

Episode 70: Lululemon athletica — The intersection of business and technology

An interview with EVP and CTO Julie Averill on the role of tech and the opportunities for women for a career in tech.

Episode 69: From science project to global solution: FreshPaper takes on food waste

Inventor Kavita Shukla tells the story of how she turned her middle school science project into a global business.

Episode 68: Akola — Empowering women through jewelry-making

Brittany Merrill Underwood of the Akola Project describes how the nonprofit’s unique retail model allows it to empower at-risk women

Episode 67: TreeHouse’s bold plan to dominate a $200 billion industry

An interview with Gary Kusin, chairman and CEO of TreeHouse, a sustainable home improvement company in the “do-it-for-me” space.

Episode 66: Millennial parents shop differently than other parents

Millennial parents don’t shop like parents from other generations. A Gen X dad and millennial mom react to consumer data about their generations.

Episode 65: The Army & Air Force Exchange Service balances profitability with community

Director and CEO Tom Shull discusses how the retail arm of the military innovates its offerings to better support active-duty service members and veterans in all aspects of life.

Episode 64: Cybersecurity for business and life: A guide from a former White House CIO

Former White House Chief Information Officer Theresa Payton discusses ways businesses and individuals can protect themselves in a digitally connected world.

Episode 63: Fitzroy rethinks discovery for toy shop owners

An interview with Stefanie Botelho, founder of Fitzroy, on supporting independent businesses on both sides of the wholesale marketplace.

Episode 62: In with the new: When returns are a win-win

Sara Whiffen of tech startup Rohvi describes how she helps retailers like Amy Gardner, owner of fashion boutique Scarpa, build customer loyalty by offering store credit for returns.

Episode 61: Politics and Prose: Books, community and evolution in D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s Politics and Prose co-owner Bradley Graham discusses how the independent bookstore is thriving and expanding in the face of change.

Episode 60: The reinvention of Levi’s: Staying cool for over a century

Levi’s Brand President James ‘JC’ Curleigh talks about reviving the century-old brand and achieving its ‘vintage and cool’ status.

Episode 59: The new normal: How retailers continue to evolve

Forrester Retail Analyst Sucharita Kodali outlines findings from the NRF-Forrester research report “State of Retailing Online 2018”.

Episode 58: Crazy dog people: How passion drives BARK

Henrik Werdelin, co-founder of BarkBox maker BARK, discusses how the company’s dog-obsessed culture attracts an army of similarly obsessed fans.

Episode 57: UrbanStems uproots the floral industry

UrbanStem’s Ajay Kori discusses how the innovative floral and gifting startup learned from mistakes to compete with industry giants.

Episode 56: How Warby Parker and STORY approach innovation

An interview with STORY CEO Rachel Shechtman and Warby Parker Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal. Learn how they built a brand around a crazy idea, and how retailers can evolve with the changing retail landscape. 

Episode 55: Making magic with Disney: Danielle Nicole designs around an icon

Danielle DiFerdinando, founder and creative director of Danielle Nicole, on what drives her creative spirit for her handbags and jewelry line.

Episode 54: How DSW stays a step ahead

An interview with DSW CEO Roger Rawlins and CFO Jared Poff on how the footwear retailer’s reinvention helps them skip ahead of competition.

Episode 53: The real world of loss prevention

An interview with Rosamaria Sostilio, VP of loss prevention at Barnes & Noble, about this hidden face of retail and her unique perspective in the industry.

Episode 52: Bra shopping reimagined — Harper Wilde supports women in a new way

Jane Fisher and Jenna Kerner, co-founders of Harper Wilde, discuss how they empower women through revolutionizing the way bras are sold.

Episode 51: Inside the Walgreens mobile experience

Walgreens’ Senior Product Manager Benjamin Weiss discusses how the leading retailer integrates all its services into one app for seamless customer service.

Episode 50: Leading with passion — The values that saved Ashley Stewart

James Rhee, CEO of Ashley Stewart, discusses his values-based leadership style and taking the company from barely surviving to thriving.

Episode 49: How Kidbox creates a new family shopping experience

An interview with Kidbox CEO Miki Berardelli. Learn how the company thrives on a technology-first approach and dedication to charitable giving.

Episode 48: JustFab and ShoeDazzle stay a step ahead in fast fashion

An interview with TechStyle Brands’ Traci Inglis, Brand President for JustFab and ShoeDazzle. Learn how the brands fuel innovation through data and customer personalization.

Episode 47: A new kind of customer — What’s driving retail evolution

NRF’s Director of Research and Consumer Insights Katherine Cullen explains generational differences in shopping habits and trends in fulfillment and experiences shaping today’s retail.

Episode 46: Tractor Supply creates a winning online experience

SVP and CIO Rob Mills discusses how Tractor Supply extends the product expertise it’s known for to the digital world, creating an award-winning online customer experience.

Episode 44: Entrepreneurship’s role in social change

An interview with Buddy Teaster, CEO of Soles4Souls. Learn more about how the nonprofit serves communities in crisis, as well as entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Episode 43: Using data to shape the shopping journey 

An interview with Salesforce SVP of Retail Industry Shelley Bransten and PwC Partner Ian Kahn. Hear how retailers are leveraging data to seamlessly merge the omnichannel shopping experience.

Episode 42: Inside Walmart's next-gen tech incubator

An interview with Lori Flees, senior vice president of next generation retail and principal of Store No 8 at Walmart. She discusses how Walmart incubates next-generation retail technology to help people save money and live better.

Episode 41: Terry Lundgren looks back on a career in retail

An interview with Terry Lundgren, just-retired executive chairman of Macy’s Inc. Hear the retail veteran share some of the wisdom he’s gained over the years and what he sees in retail’s future.

Episode 40: Tomorrow’s cool retail tech, today

An interview with Seth Webb of Tusk Ventures, a curator behind the Innovation Lab at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show. Hear about the latest tech that’s poised to transform the retail industry.

Episode 39: Behind the curtain at Retail's Big Show

An interview with NRF’s Susan Newman, SVP of conferences and Angela Elder, VP of event content and education. Hear them discuss the exciting innovations in the past, present and future of Retail’s Big Show.

Episode 38: How “Mattress Mack” became a retail icon

An interview with Gallery Furniture owner Jim "Mack” McIngvale. Hear how he’s giving back to his community in Houston, Texas.

Episode 37: How West Elm Syncs the in-store and digital experience

An interview with West Elm’s Vice President of Innovation Luke Chatelain. Discover how the company develops forward-thinking solutions to improve the shopping experience.

Episode 36: How one high-tech McDonald’s is evolving an icon

An interview with McDonald’s franchise owner Carlos Mateos Jr. Hear how he is implementing technology in his restaurants to change the iconic experience. 

Episode 35: HSN helps make entrepreneurial dreams come true

An interview with Dara Trujillo, vice president of new business development at HSN. Learn more about how the company elevates entrepreneurs with business education, guidance and exposure.

Episode 34: Retail industry predictions for 2018

STORES Magazine Editor Susan Reda takes a look back at the big trends of 2017 and predicts what’s to come in 2018. Learn how trends like AI, VR, mixed reality and more will change retail in the new year.

Episode 33: How job-ready candidates give retailers a head start

An interview with Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. Learn more about how the nonprofit helps connect retailers with qualified talent.  

Episode 32: Let it snow! How retailers prep for the weather

An interview with Evan Gold, EVP of global services at Planalytics, who helps retailers account for weather when they plan their business strategy. Learn about a side of planning consumers often overlook.

Episode 31: BJ’s Chris Baldwin on what keeps this CEO up at night

An interview with Chris Baldwin, President and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club. Learn more about how the company makes strategic decisions that help it stay competitive in the face of change.

Episode 30: Beautycounter’s foundation of empowerment

An interview with Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO of Beautycounter. Hear how she built an empire based on advocacy, education and high-performing, safe products.

Episode 29: Special holiday edition: 'Tis the season for shopping

An interview with Katherine Cullen, director of retail and consumer insights at NRF, on what retailers can expect to see this holiday, from consumer spending to what gets people in the spirit of the season.

Episode 28: Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz on putting digital first

An interview with Karen Katz, CEO of Neiman Marcus. Hear how this century-old luxury retailer adapted to drastic changes in the industry to become a digital winner with a personal touch.

Episode 27: Making the case for retail as a career

An interview with Jerry O’Brien, director of Kohl’s Center for Retailing Excellence at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Learn how he helps reshape the retail career conversation with college students.

Episode 26: Supply chain management is ‘more like rocket science’ than you might think

An interview with Rick Schart, SVP of supply chain and ecommerce at Stein Mart. Listen to how the industry has evolved to gain more prominence in retail operations.

Episode 24: Allbirds gets a kick out of disrupting shoe design

An interview with Joey Zwillinger, co-founder of Allbirds. Hear how the digital startup got its foot in the door of a long-established industry with direct-to-consumer marketing.

Episode 23: Scott Galloway predicts the future of retail

An interview with Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing at New York University. Learn about how retailers can adapt to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google’s power positions in the retail industry.

Episode 21: How Lane Bryant contributes to a national conversation

An interview with Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer of Lane Bryant. Discover how the century-old company is reshaping the conversation around body equality, and how the brand reinvented to appeal to the modern customer.

Episode 20: Help wanted — The retail roles you never think of

An interview with Brack Sullivan and Trey Stewart, talent acquisition executives at The Home Depot. Learn about the hidden roles the company hires for and how it has adapted hiring needs for a changing industry.

Episode 19: How Macy’s finds top talent

An interview with Anne Voller, group vice president at Macy’s Inc. and NRF Foundation board member. Learn about the mega-retailer’s approach to talent acquisition and how retail roles are evolving.

Episode 18: Behind the kitchen door — the business of restaurants

An interview with Anthony Lupo and Brian Schram of Southern Hospitality and Scarlet Oak restaurants. Learn about how they achieve rave reviews in the face of changing consumer tastes and new technologies.

Episode 17: The high point of user experience

An interview with Rob Colenso, senior product manager and UI/UX team lead for Total Wine & More. Learn about how the company gets their highly regulated products to omnichannel customers.

Episode 16: Talent acquisition’s role in business growth

An interview with Chloe Rosenthal, director of human resources for &Pizza. Learn about the popular D.C. pizza chain’s innovative company culture and approach to hiring employees.  

Episode 15: The secret sauce for small biz success

An interview with Myles Powell, entrepreneur and founder of 8 Myles gourmet sauces and seasonings. Read about how his passion for food helped him develop a successful small business and listen for mouthwatering recipe ideas. 

Episode 14 - How and why NRF forecasts the economic future

An interview with Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for NRF. Learn about the art and science of economic forecasting as Kleinhenz explains how data is modeled to provide perspective for the future.

Episode 13: S3 Active’s journey from pop-up to permanent storefront

An interview with Sarween Salih, owner of athleisure company S3 Active. Read more about her entrepreneurial story and listen to how this small retailer is building a scalable business.

Episode 12: Emerging trends in urban shopping experiences

An interview with Timothy Lowery, general manager at CityCenterDC, and Whitney Burns, senior manager of corporate communications at Hines. Find out how a mixed-use development in downtown Washington, D.C., has worked with retailers and the community to create the hottest space in town.

Episode 11: Everything you think you know about lobbyists is probably wrong

An interview with David French, NRF’s senior vice president of government affairs, on what it’s like to be a trade association lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Learn more about how lobbyists help the industry and why it’s important for retailers to share their stories with policymakers.

Episode 9: How the STORES Top 100 Retailers stay on top

An interview with Susan Reda, editor of STORES magazine. Listen to her views on what’s changing in retail and how the nation’s Top 100 Retailers are adapting to emerging trends.

Episode 8: The future of the retail store

An interview with Bluemercury co-founder and COO Barry Beck. Read about his view on changes in the retail industry and listen for insights on how one retailer is adapting to serve a new kind of consumer.

Episode 7: In search of a better fit

An interview with Philip Soriano, co-founder of menswear retailer Hugh & Crye. Learn how the bootstrapped company develops a distinctive brand and unique products, and listen to Soriano’s advice for other entrepreneurs.

Episode 6: Retail’s evolution requires a focus on talent development

An interview with former Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon and Ellen Davis, senior vice president at NRF and executive director of the NRF Foundation. Hear how the changing retail landscape is changing the talent needs of retailers.

Episode 5: How Nat Geo connects content, community and commerce

An interview with Jill Dvorak, director of merchandising and marketing at National Geographic Partners. Learn about how she helps the world-renowned publisher extend its brand through commerce.

Episode 4: Growing a small business, one scoop at a time

An interview with Victoria Lai, founder and owner of Ice Cream Jubilee. Read about how she got started and listen for her advice to other young entrepreneurs.

Episode 3: Get ready for Gen Z

An interview with NRF's Mark Mathews about the latest research on Generation Z consumers. Read more about why research is important for retail and listen for tips on what retailers can do to attract the youngest group of consumers.

Episode 2: It's not a doughnut, it's a philosophy

An interview with Greg Menna, co-founder and CEO of District Doughnut. Hear about how he built the business from the ground up.

Episode 1: How Walmart does business in China

An interview with Maggie Sans, former senior vice president and chief corporate affairs officer for Walmart in China. Learn more about how she helped the retail giant cross international borders.


Meet your podcast hosts

Bill Thorne

Communicator by day and book reader by night, Bill Thorne is senior vice president for communications and public affairs at NRF. In an alternate universe he works as a landscaper, creating paintings with a living palette.

Sarah Rand

Sarah “Super Woman” Rand is vice president of digital communications at NRF and can magically expand time to fit every task that falls on her plate. When she’s not experimenting with the latest communications trends and organizational behavior, Sarah can be found at local doughnut, ice cream and bakery shops.

Jen Overstreet

Content geek and director of digital content at NRF, Jen is a sucker for a good story. She fell in love with retail as a teenager, when she worked after school at an independent toy store. When she's not producing Retail Gets Real, peppering guests with questions or running the NRF blog, she's playing with her surprisingly sassy two-year-old.

Katie McBreen

From ice cream scooper and J. Crew sales associate to vice president of communications and public affairs at NRF, Katie McBreen is no stranger to retail. As an Idahoan transplanted to D.C., former ski racer, identical twin and new mom, Katie’s interests spread wide and run deep. When she’s not using her gift of gab in the podcast studio, you’ll find her in or dreaming about the mountains.   

Artemis Berry

Artemis Berry is vice president of member engagement at NRF. When she isn’t managing communities and programs she can be found reading up on all things tech and helping her toddler (#girlpower) become the next great world leader.

Susan Reda

As editor of STORES Magazine, Susan Reda has interviewed many retail luminaries, emerging entrepreneurs, small business owners and retail experts. She loves shopping almost as much as researching a good story, especially about the impact a new strategy, technology or tool can have on the future of retail and the shoppers who make it all possible. 

Jessica Hibbard

Jessica Hibbard was formerly NRF’s director of online content and communications and the founder of Retail Gets Real. In between collecting startup stories and tracking digital commerce trends, Jessica geeks out about vintage film cameras and unwinds with analog photography. 

Shaquayla Mims

As student initiatives manager, Shaquayla Mims spends her days in the office marketing events and scholarship programs to Millennials, and teaching them new ways to demonstrate to their boomer parents why jobs in retail are fantastic, actually. Her Sagittarian nature and background in public relations and communications allows her to chat about anything, with anyone, at any given time.

Tony Fontana

Tony Fontana was formerly director, communications and head coach of the softball team at NRF. Born to be a storyteller — whether it’s in short form on social media or through dialogue on a podcast — Tony’s love of Chipotle led to his first job as a crew member for the chain.