by Emily Line, Vice President of Commercial Services, Realtors Property Resource®
Deena Zimmerman’s expertise in retail tenant representation has helped fuel Chicago’s economic growth and sustainability for over a decade. Zimmerman specializes in finding high- quality retail locations in and around Chicago for national operators, franchisees, and first-time entrepreneurs. In addition to being a top-producing tenant rep with SVN Chicago Commercial, she finds time to hold leadership positions in the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and is the 2017 National Association of REALTORS® Commercial Liaison.
Emily Line (EL): You are starting the year on a high note, having just completed a “career best” for transactions in 2016. As a well-respected industry leader, what insight can you shed on retail investing?
Deena Zimmerman (DZ): We’re in a faster growth phase, as the increase in the GDP and decrease in unemployment would indicate. Simply put, more people are working, equating to retail dollars being spent. Traditional retailers are adjusting to in-store and online sales models. There is a growing demand for the “site-to-store” model where a customer will purchase online and pick up in the store. Lastly, retail sites can be the best redevelopment projects. There’s great opportunity to take existing retail spaces in premier locations and reimagine mixed-use opportunities.
EL: You have always said, “I want my clients to feel like we’re a team and that their goals are my goals.” How do you achieve that outcome?
DZ: I offer personalized service and expertise on location, space, and lease/purchase options. I work hard to identify specific criteria, provide options, and negotiate key terms unique to each deal. RPR Commercial allows me to analyze areas based on more specific attributes than my clients could ever imagine.
For example, I have a women’s clothing store expanding into Chicago. They need an area with large concentrations of 20 – 30-year-old women with high disposable incomes. I impressed them with my ability to target areas with women in their 20s – 30s earning $75k – $100k, with high annual spending on women’s apparel. I got this information by creating an RPR Trade Area report that included actuals and projections broken down by gender, age, education, income, economic, and population comparisons.
EL: It sounds like the RPR® technology solutions validate your advice to your clients. How else has it helped your business?
DZ: Listen, I would pay hundreds of dollars a year for RPR® if it weren’t given to me as a National Association of REALTORS® benefit. I recently went up against four non- REALTOR® firms trying to land a 20,000-square-foot deal. The client was blown away when I shared my site selection analysis. I will make six figures on this deal thanks to resources I have as a REALTOR®. However, the best part is not only executing deals using RPR Commercial. The depth of the reports and my ability to use them to help my clients succeed has created additional business as national retailers have referred me to other national businesses.