The Return of Retail Entrepreneurship

Oct 5, 2021

I have long appreciated the joy of giving.  Few experiences in life are as rewarding as spending the time to make, do, or purchase a gift for someone else and having their face light up in appreciation upon receipt.  America largely missed out on this experience in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic with limited opportunities for gatherings with family, friends, and business colleagues during the holiday season.   It is anticipated that the winter of 2021 with increased herd immunity in society through pharmaceutical vaccinations and natural immunity gained by the greater than 100 million Americans who successfully battled the virus and returned to health will result in a robust gift purchasing and giving season like has never been seen before in the nation.  One reference source for information, Mastercard ( is anticipating retail sales in the United States to increase 7.4% in November & December versus 2020 and growth to exceed 11% versus the same period in 2019.  This is very exciting news for the retail sector.

The entrepreneurial community IBA works with as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest has a reputation for being forward looking and resilient.  This well earned reputation has been justified and confirmed through direct observation during the last eighteen months as we have seen privately held companies and family businesses roll up their sleeves working long hours as motivated, enthusiastic teams, problem solving through pandemic and government created situations, and experience resurgence from the darkest days of the spring of 2020 to have revenue growth, wages & salaries for staff being raised in recognition & appreciation by management, and company profitability return.  One of the hardest hit sectors in the economy has been traditional retail.  The reality is that most products can now be found online and delivered to our homes, but shopping online lacks the intangible benefits of visiting a merchant in person similar to the difference between having food delivered to your home for a solo meal versus sharing a meal, beverage, and conversation at a table in your favorite restaurant with family and/or friends.  Close your eyes.   Can you picture a multiple sensory shopping experience where you browse aisles with a pumpkin spice latte in hand alone or with someone else listening to holiday music spending a wonderful day filled with happy thoughts about how this is the perfect gift for Jack or Jane and perhaps, even putting a special something in the basket for yourself that caught your eye.  There is something very basic and rewarding about the act of shopping and gifting.   I know I am personally looking forward to a return to normalcy in that area this holiday season.

The return of consumer confidence and activity in the retail sector has spurred renewed mergers & acquisitions activity as smart entrepreneurs identify and position themselves to capitalize on available opportunities.  IBA’s retail industry transaction team has been busy this summer facilitating negotiations where companies are being targeted for acquisition by parties interested in participating in the anticipated strong Christmas shopping season of 2021.  Many of these transactions are scheduled for completion early in Q4. The deals in escrow pending sale facilitated by IBA business brokers include a multiple location retail chain in King & Snohomish counties that is being purchased by a private equity firm with aspirations of expanding the chain regionally in the next couple of years, a medical equipment sales company, an athletic equipment & apparel business that is dominant in its marketplace, a long term University Village retailer,  and a pet industry retail supply firm that is experiencing wonderful year over year growth.

October of 2021 is likely too late to enter the business sale marketplace to complete a transaction prior to the end of the year.   However, it is not too late to begin to position a business for sale in 2022 and develop of strategy to maximize its attractiveness and value in the marketplace.   If you are interested in selling your retail business in 2022, the members of our retail industry transaction team would welcome the opportunity to meet with you, learn about your business model, and provide an overview of our client services.   At minimum, the broker you meet with may be a new customer. A couple of weekends ago, I took my wife to see one of my client’s stores that had impressed me as a consumer.  She will definitely be back.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.