May 24, 2017

Harry S. Cherken, Jr. ’71, Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP on Retail/Wholesale Trade

Harry Cherken is an attorney with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP specializing in real estate transactions. Early in his career he began representing Urban Outfitters as it expanded its stores nationwide. Eventually, Cherken became a member of the Board of Directors of Urban Outfitters.

Cherken used his experience at Urban Outfitters to illustrate the dramatic changes in the retail trade sector. Cherken stressed the importance of listening to the customer as a key success factor. He pointed out that Urban Outfitters tries to create an “experience” for customers who visit their retail stores, which are often located next to college campuses.

Traditional brick and mortar retail stores are facing challenges from e-commerce. Cherken explained that success will require omni-channel methods of connecting to consumers. Urban Outfitters recently completed a 1.1 million square foot distribution facility in Gap, Pennsylvania that is set to serve its e-commerce expansion. In addition, Cherken made the case that America is “overstored.” America has more retail stores per capita than any other developed country. According to Cherken, retail stores for some companies will serve in part as showrooms that will create synergies with e-commerce sales.