BY JOEY VALENTI
How I Got Into the Business: Retail was All I ever Knew
I have been in retail in some way, shape, or form since I was ten years old. My mom has been in retail for 25 years and I would go to her retail shop to help out even in grade school. Fast-forwarding to my twenties, I left my first job after college and unsure what I wanted to do with my life, I turned to retail. Even at this time of exploration, I continued to work in retail spaces at malls (i.e., J Crew and William Sonoma) while figuring out my next steps.
I interned for a commercial real estate broker who worked with SuperCuts back in college. While I did not know that commercial real estate would be my future industry, I found joy and interest looking at the SuperCuts deals on a spreadsheet. As I figured out my next career steps, my dad told me to speak with a man named Arthur who he had recently done a project with. When Arthur and I met, we hit it off immediately. From there, I got my commercial real estate license and began working with Arthur. I did not know much about industrial or office at the time, but retail was my language. I knew how people shopped, where they preferred to shop, and what they liked to buy; as a result, I knew I could do this.
The Beginnings: Eighteen Years Ago
One of my first experiences as a broker was going to ICSC RECon, six months after starting out in the business. Flying into Las Vegas, I did not know anybody and did not yet have any clients. Arthur kindly walked me around the conference to introduce me to his network and colleagues. At this point in time, I still did not know much about commercial real estate and I thought the biggest highlight from my trip was winning five thousand dollars in blackjack. Still, I saw what commercial real estate could be for me and it matched my energy and interests.
Little did I know, on that same trip, Arthur had introduced me to one of my future clientsfrom Buffalo Wild Wings, who I still represent to this day. Six months after ICSC, I started working on my first transaction with Buffalo Wild Wings and I am proud to say that we have done 55 transactions since.
Restaurant Deals are different than Retail Deals
Stepping into a restaurant space was natural for me (after working as a chef in college) but restaurant deals have nuances that retail spaces simply do not. Utilities are vastly different: you generally have to double the HVAC, electric, gas, and water. Ventilation and grease traps are also important considerations. And, of course, creating the layout for seating, kitchen, freezer, cooler and so much more are all very particular parts of restaurants that differ widely from other retail establishments.
The daytime population is also a major factor. Most restaurants serve at least two meals, and lunch is almost always the common factor. It is a must to have a dependable daytime audience, whether they come from local offices or universities, especially during the work week.
Restaurant deals are special because they never get monotonous and every deal is different and interesting. Even each Buffalo Wild Wings deal has its own set of variants, making each one exciting!
We Expand with Our Clients
My experience with Buffalo Wild Wings has been valuable in learning how to carry out a restaurant deal. It has also been a great opportunity to create transactions in other states such as Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Mississippi. Because of this, I have always held licenses in multiple states. We do this because we simply do not like saying no to our clients. We know their team, we live and breathe their criteria, and we are as dedicated as they are to ensuring they have the best locations in their markets.
I enjoy doing deals around the greater southeastern regions of the United State but Nashville is always the market I know best. Stay tuned for my next blog to hear my perspective on the past, present, and future of Nashville real estate!
Please feel free to contact Joey Valenti, author and Centennial Retail Services broker, to talk retail any time you’d like.
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