Last week we attended the ICSC U.S. Shopping Center Law Conference in San Antonio, Texas. For 4 days we attended educational sessions (we actually led the discussion in 2 of those), visited with clients and colleagues, renewed friendships and made new ones. There were about 1,350 attendees at this conference, the programming was terrific, and opportunities were abundant.
Clients and lawyers with whom we may only have an electronic connection for most of the year were suddenly and delightfully in the same physical place as us for 4 or 5 days. It was during this face-to-face time that I realized how important it is to actually know our clients and the folks who sit across the table from me the rest of the year.
During this conference relationships were made, strengthened and valued. We had great encounters with both new and long-time clients (PetSmart, JoAnne’s, Ulta and PF Chang’s) and planted seeds with others for future growth. The San Antonio Riverwalk was the site of several good meals, and the Alamo was remembered.
The conference featured a number of food and entertainment themes. The presentation on the leasing and operation of food halls (Jeremy Cohen and Brian Smith, both from Atlanta, handled this one) was creative and informative. And the changing world of co-tenancy, prohibited uses and exclusives was another popular topic. Vertical development, marijuana dispensaries, airport leasing and alternative uses were also explored.
But, at the end of the conference, the main takeaway, from my perspective, was that the world of legal professionals focused on retail development and leasing is a small one indeed. While there were lots of new faces at the conference, there were more that were familiar. We are fortunate to do repeat business with many of the same folks.
Relationships matter. We at Ulmer work hard on making good ones, and making them last.