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The Commercial Observer: How did Zelnik & Company fare in 2009?

Mr. Zelnik: We had small deals going on with the mom-and-pop stores. Some opportunities came along that were best suited for those types of tenants. We had a consistent deal flow in terms of overall gross volumes. As for the organization, I would say we were probably off about 20 percent or 30 percent from year over year.

 

How did the holiday season shape up for New York retailers?

At this point, we’re reading statistics and everything we’re hearing is inventories were kept much more in control than last year, so that allowed for the retailers to be selling at less discounted prices. Overall, it was more positive than negative.

 

Besides inventory, were there other ways retailers were able to prepare?

In a less formal manner, it was about retailers just being prepared from a customer service perspective and being more focused on certain inventories. But from a customer service perspective, I think the retailers were on top of things more than ever. Maybe because they didn’t have the crowds that they’d had in the past, there was more customer service across the board, even from the big boxes and the discount operators. I think they were prepared for that. I think it was a big season for some of these retailers to really be focused on the customer more than ever.

 

What were retailers talking about at November’s ICSC conference?

I thought that the show was fairly positive. A year-over-year comparison can only make it feel positive because the 2008 show was deader than dead. So year over year, it was more upbeat-certainly not as upbeat as things had been in the past, but I took it as a positive overall. There’s a general optimism about the New York City marketplace that to some degree never leaves.

 

Give me a breakdown of some of your recent transactions this year.

We have done a host of franchise-related retailers. We’re involved with a company, Submarina, which is a sandwich company that’s going to try to compete with the other sandwiches makers, the Subways and the Blimpies of the world. We work the landlord side, but we’ve seen guys like that.

 

Where and when are they opening?

Sometime in the first quarter in midtown west.

 

What retail trends are we going to see in 2010?