Networking isn’t new, but in this day and age of emails and texts, the idea of face-to-face business-building has taken on new importance.
Retail Live!, the series of retail real estate single-day networking events approaching its third year, used the idea of one-on-one interaction between tenants and landlords, with a particular emphasis on servicing the retailer participants, as its launchpad — and has found great success. Founded by Stacey Gilham, principal for Dallas/Austin-based Edge Realty Partners, the Retail Live! series of regional networking events has seen attendance and retailer participation grow as much as 50% since its inception.
“Retail Live! is different from your traditional tradeshow,” said Gilham, “in that we put retailers and shopping center owners together in a one-day setting conducive to making deals, and we add in entertainment and additional networking opportunities. It’s not a high-pressure environment, and attendees seem to respond well to the idea that deal-making doesn’t have to be stressful; it can actually be fun and effective.”
Retail Live! features multiple regional events each year (see sidebar for 2014 schedule); retailers are the exhibitors, and their tables are visited by an attendee base made up of shopping center owners, developers, brokers and property managers. The fact that retailers are not charged for exhibiting is a huge plus, as is the targeted attendee base. “I have found many real estate opportunities at Retail Live! and have met people I otherwise would have missed by not exhibiting,” said Victoria Chastain, CLS, senior site selection manager for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers.
Chastain, who is based in McKinney, Texas, has participated in five Retail Live! events to date, and says she will attend all future events in her territory.
“It is a wonderful venue that hearkens back to how real estate tradeshows used to be run many moons ago,” she said. “Through Retail Live!, I am made aware of real estate opportunities that might not be published, and I have access to more effective deal-making and networking, and to more market-specific intelligence.”
Sponsors benefit, as well. According to Brett Sheets, senior VP leasing for Phoenix-based American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP), his company participates in four Retail Live! events each year, and sees them as an opportunity to meet clients face to face.
“Because the events last four or five hours, they are easy to attend and they allow us to get in front of our retail clients in a casual setting,” Sheets said.
Growth by acquisition: Retail Live! announced late last year that it had acquired the 16-year-old, Florida-based Retailer One on One event — and that purchase has opened up an important market for Retail Live!. “Our objective from the inception of Retail Live! has been to become a national company providing a first-class commercial real estate networking event,” said Gilham. “Acquiring Retailer One on One, and thereby putting us solidly in the state of Florida and the Southeast Region, goes a long way toward helping us to achieve that goal.”
For information about registration, scheduling, hotel accommodations and more, visit retaillive.com.
Retail Live! 2014 Schedule of Events
Feb. 6: Chicago (Westin Chicago Northwest)
April 2: Los Angeles (Hilton Orange County)
April 17: Orlando (Hilton Orlando)
Aug. 21: Austin (Hyatt Regency Austin)
Fall (day TBA): New York City
To register, visit retaillive.com.