June 22, 2020 | By Ryan McArdle, The Palomar Group
This past week, my partners Steve Collins, David Rivers and I, decided to ditch the confines of our office and set out on a Tour across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic to visit friends and clients. We had the itch to get out amongst the people as a result of the mass influx in cancellations of conference and events and our individual need for social interaction. In our business, the Real Estate Investment Sales Business, we rely on social interaction. Our business is built on relationships and it is terribly hard to build and foster those relationships over Zoom calls, emails and the like.
I don’t know how it came about exactly, but the three of us were discussing ways to reach out to our network in a unique and exciting way. The idea of renting an RV and traveling across the country started out more as more of a joke than an actual plan after seeing leasing agents execute on a similar idea as a way to get to their properties and visit with tenants. However, after tossing the idea around a little more, the idea did not seem so crazy. In fact, it seemed like it could be just what the doctor ordered.
Our trip started in Augusta, GA where we are headquartered and went through Charlotte, Virginia Beach, Richmond, DC, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. Some of our stops were built around quickly stopping through a market to say hello to one or two people while at others we set up tailgates for a few hours that hosted 20-30 people. All were beneficial and gave us the chance to catch up on much needed face time (not the digital version). No deals were discussed or pitched and instead we were able to focus on the human level of the business. Conversations of “how’s your family” or “how has business been through this environment” dominated the conversations. For many people we saw along the trip, this was their first real human interaction since the shutdown began. We even had a few who said that the handshakes they gave were the first given in months.
Not to minimize the threat of the pandemic that has affected the world, but our industry and our country needs social interaction. It is not a bonus if we can get it in, but rather a basic need of society and business in particular. While on our tour, most of our stops were planned in grocery anchored shopping centers. While on these stops, we were greatly encouraged to see the activity within these centers. Parking lots were full, and traffic was steady. Retail was very much alive and well!
Maybe the best part of the trip was that it allowed my partners and I to be locked in a 32 ft RV and share some unique experiences with one another. Whether sitting around a fire in the middle of the Pennsylvania Hills or laughing about the amenities (or lack thereof) at a Tennessee campsite, it was great spending one on one time with the guys. We were able to talk about our families, self-improvement, and corporate strategy as well as have a few cocktails together along the way.
We could not have been happier with the response we received for The Freedom Tour. From those who showed up to see us on the road to the incredible show of support that we saw online, it was nothing short of amazing. Will we do a follow up tour? That is yet to be decided. What I can say is that I sure am glad we did this one. The future is bright in the retail real estate industry and I am glad that we were able to get out, remove the barrier of social distancing, and see what is happening in the market and the people that make it tick firsthand.
Looking forward to what the future holds!