He's talking about big chains such as Starbucks and Whole Foods. If you see them opening in a new neighborhood, it's a sign that the neighborhood is up-and-coming, and therefore a smart real estate bet.
In his book he writes:
One of the best ways to stretch your buying dollar is to find a neighborhood that is in transition. Called fringe or transitional neighborhoods, they are typically close to major metropolitan areas and were once neglected and less desirable. Is there a trendy restaurant where a tattoo parlor used to be? These neighborhoods are now beginning to enjoy a new life and your goal is the find them.
Has a Starbucks just opened on the corner or maybe a Whole Foods Market? These are all good signs that a neighborhood is on the upswing. You can bet that big chains like Starbucks spend a lot of money and time analyzing neighborhood potential before they open up a new store. So go ahead, tap into their market research and be their neighbor.
Source: Meredith Galante and Business Insider
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-signals-a-rising-neighborhood-2012-11#ixzz2COzrbMkf