So you want to attract new retailers to your commercial district. Perhaps you’ve done a market study already, and if so, you’re off to a great start. But how do you take that study and run with it?
A few months back we posted some strategies in Retail Recruitment 101: Tips for Identifying Potential Tenants. Here are a five more to get you started.
1. Invite a tenant rep to come on a tour of your district.
Buy them a coffee (or channel your inner Don Draper and opt for a cocktail if you’re looking to attract bars and restaurants) and take them on a walk through the district. Plan ahead – let a few retailers know you’re coming by and ask them to say a few words about (how great it is) doing business there. Coordinate with property owners or brokers so that your guest can tour a few spaces that are available. Once you’re done, send them off with marketing materials to share with their clients.
2. “E-prospect” 
You don’t have to buy a subscription to an expensive database to find prospects online. Here are some free and easy things to try:
  • Search Yelp for businesses with good reviews in similar neighborhoods. Popular shops may be ready to open up another location. 
  • Read blogs and papers (and follow them on Facebook) to find out about new store openings and expansions. 
  • Set Google email alerts to track specific stores and brokers.
3. Visit “like” districts.
Go to a commercial district that has similar customers. Browse, eat, and while you’re at it, take photos and notes on stores that would fit nicely in your neighborhood. Strike up a conversation with a few business owners if you can. Find out if they’re looking to expand and invite them to come on a tour of your corridor.
4. Consider attending an ICSC event 
The International Council of Shopping Centers has networking events all the time, all over the world. The big ones are Dealmaking in Las Vegas in May and in NYC in December. If you want to find tenant reps or national retailers, that’s where they’ll be.
5. Be persistent
If you want to get on a retailer or broker’s radar, mailing a brochure probably won’t be enough. Send your marketing materials, include a customized letter, follow up with an email and then give them a call. If you throw enough mud, eventually something will stick!