A Marathon Deal: Pounding L.A.’s Retail Pavement
By Luis Valenzuela, Executive Vice President, Branch Manager
Dedicated brokers will do just about anything to make a deal if it’s in their clients’ best interest. To illustrate this point, let me share with you the experience I had with my client and good friend, Min Chae. We were in the process of negotiating a lease with a major tenant for his shopping center, Plaza México. He did not want to accept the proposed rent and concessions that the tenant offered. After several rounds of counter offers, we came very close in the negotiations, but he still was not convinced he should agree. I gave him all the reasons why he should take the deal and asked him, “What else could I do?” After a brief pause, he said, “Run the L.A. Marathon.” Hesitating for a moment, and determining his sincerity, I pleaded, “Min, I have bad knees, baseball and football injuries, 2 surgeries, I can’t run.” He said, “Then walk it.” And so, I said, “Ok, then let’s make the deal.”
The L.A. Marathon
So, keeping true to my word, I signed up for the L.A. Marathon and enlisted Ed Martinez, a friend from Occidental College, to do the same. Let me be honest with you, it wasn’t a pleasant walk at the very least, as the weather conditions were so bad (it started to rain after the first mile), and only got worse throughout the day. It was cold, windy and wet for the majority of the time.
Diversity among the Streets: L.A.’s Ethnic Retailers and Restaurants
But, even amidst the dire conditions, I was able to appreciate the experience of seeing Los Angeles at a different pace. As a broker walking throughout the streets of Los Angeles (I say walk, because that’s all I really did) I was afforded a unique glimpse of how great L.A. retailing is from a street level. During the walk, I observed the extensive variety of different businesses throughout the city. Sure, there were the typical retailers, 99 Cents Only store, Ralph’s, CVS, Ross Dress For Less, and many others — but the attention grabbers were the ethnic businesses. There were restaurants everywhere, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Italian, Armenian, and Indian. The spectrum was wide, from taquerias to fine dining – everywhere (all of which engaged the stomach of this marathon participant). During the journey, I marveled at the wide range of specialty retailers, coffee houses, book stores, smoke shops, tattoo parlors, and tequila bars throughout the various neighborhoods. Taking note of the architecture, I was delighted to gain a better understanding of how much Los Angeles has changed for the better.
Throughout all 26.2 miles, it was quite fascinating to visit so many different communities — especially in one day. At the core, one might say that all retail is the same, but the ethnic businesses I encountered were a true example of the diversity throughout Los Angeles. Neighborhoods could be identified by observing the different retailers, restaurants, and especially the variety of grocery stores and their influx of regular traffic.
Ethnic grocery stores are the foundation of neighborhoods and in some cases the link to their survival. They give immigrants not only a reason to shop but an opportunity to stay connected to their culture. Los Angeles is lucky to have such diverse neighborhoods and retailers that play such an important role in shaping communities. If someone arrives from another country, where do they go first? He or she will probably settle near a grocery store where the employees speak their language and understand their culture. Imagine the comfort they feel when signs are familiar and stores are stacked with product from their homeland. Their grocery store becomes their connection to their neighborhood and community. This happens with all cultures and Los Angeles has embraced this phenomenon. Observing such diversity from the street level gave me a newfound appreciation for the business that we as retail brokers conduct.
Side Note: Thank you to the countless volunteers that gave up their Sunday to help during the rainy and windy marathon. Many were teenagers that were so eager to assist. One lady handed me curry rice plate at Mile 12 which I promptly ate, another one gave me a homemade Jello cup on Rodeo Drive. Everyone was helpful, polite, and enthusiastic. Thank you to the people that just stood on street corners yelling words of encouragement, clapping their hands, and some honked their horns from inside their warm, dry cars — waving and yelling. There were even retailers and restaurateurs that were standing at the steps of their storefronts rooting us on. Restaurants handed out food, water and coffee, (yes coffee). Believe it or not, the offer of a hot beverage was a welcome one even to runners, because it was so cold. I can reflect now on how very special and touching all of this was during the race.
Oh, and with respect to the deal that initiated this journey — it is getting done. We are in final lease negotiations!
|Print article||This entry was posted by NAI Capital on March 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm, and is filed under Retail. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
Comments are closed.