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Heather Ewing – Abstract Commercial Real Estate
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What is up, you have found Authentic Business
the business program that brings you
stories and triumphant successes
of business owners across the land.
We are coming to you
from the Calls On Call studios
underwritten by Bank of Sun Prairie.
My name is James Kademan, entrepreneur,
author, speaker and helpful coach
to small businesses across the country.
And I’m excited because it’s commercial real
It’s time. I have Heather Ewing, the owner
of Abstract Commercial Real Estate.
Heather, how are you doing today?
Great, thanks for having me
James. I’m excited.
I am, too.
It’s always it’s fun to share about retail
and commercial real estate is
definitely on fire right now.
Oh, my gosh.
We’ve got a lot of great topics to cover.
So first, let’s just start out with
what is Abstract Commercial Real Estate.
Let’s start there and then we can move on.
So it’s the firm that I founded and I
opened it earlier this year, May of 2020.
Definitely an interesting time to start.
Did you say May of 2020?
So this will blow over.
Yeah, hopefully covid blows over.
But the reason I started it,
it was really to come at it from a unique
vantage point of wanting to offer services
in the commercial retail sector
in a unique manner.
So we’re a boutique retail firm, OK,
servicing owners, developers and tenants.
So it’s really niched and then
additionally is focusing
in on the mixed use properties.
OK, and that’s where, again,
working with owners and developers,
offering insights so that they can lease
their retail space at grade more
quickly, easily to better tenants.
And really hit the numbers
that they desire.
what made you start your own thing versus
just working for… You were
a broker before, right?
I was for over five years.
And the reason for that was really
having your own firm.
You’re able to call the shots
and to really offer a certain level
and caliber of service that you desire.
OK, and so with that,
I decided to start my own.
And with that, then
you’ll notice that my focus is pulling
in a lot of the new video and technology
and really making a brand.
It’s all right.
And so those are different elements
that I’m integrating
and will share with people.
And it’s really providing additional level
and layer of service, something different.
And in retail, it’s very customized.
OK, so I can pinpoint that,
including drone video footage and other
units to just make a precise package
for them and something that’s
going to elevate them.
Is it tough to get in that realm to get
to start your own commercial real estate
business? Well commercial is
definitely a breed of its own.
You know, when you look at residential
two very different types of areas.
People either love residential
or they love commercial.
It’s a water and oil combination.
It’s what I say.
So I had the good fortune of several
years ago looking into it.
I was interested in it and ended
up working in the retail sector.
And it’s very creative.
I’m a very creative person.
And you work with passionate
Some are newer to the arena.
Others are seasoned,
regional or maybe national.
Retailers and in it, it’s just a very
creative it’s definitely an area of risk.
And there’s also big rewards.
So the deal structures are longer.
There’s a lot of cold calling,
prospecting, building relationships.
And the nice thing is,
as you get established, of course,
all of that is much easier.
Right becuase now people are looking for you.
And so you’ve become known,
you service a special niche.
And I think that’s something that’s
really helped me as being very niched.
OK, and so retail and new mixed use
development is what people
know and come to me for.
So it’s just a fun area.
And at times it just feels like I always
have to pinch myself
because I love what I do.
And I love helping people.
And with that, you know,
it wasn’t always that way.
I was in the operations arena,
OK, many years ago.
About eleven years.
OK, so I was in capacity,
planning and running production lines
overseas negotiations for toolings,
Completely different arena.
Yeah, way different.
So the record skipped.
And I found myself of, you know,
what do I really want to do in life.
Of course, you don’t hear
about commercial real estate.
It’s one of those unique areas
where if I only knew about that.
years ago, right?
But as you would want to say, fate,
whatever tapped me on the shoulder and as I
got into it, I just fell in love with it.
OK, it’s challenging.
Yeah, it’s rewarding.
It’s very creative in how you
structure deals in the site selection.
Having been born and raised in the Madison
area, I’ve been here forty six years.
That knowledge is invaluable.
So I remember before the Beltline was put
in, before Westtown was
there and it was field.
You know, so you just know all these
different areas, including the suburbs
and things of that nature and how it all
and the nuances of neighborhoods.
So you have demographics and all
of these various numbers.
But then there’s also just the mentality
right now feel and a vibe what they
typically purchase, what they typically
do, where they typically will.
And that’s the psychotropics.
So you compile all that together.
And I’m a firm believer you use numbers,
but you also have a gut hunch
and it’s paring all that together.
That has really allowed me
to excel in that arena.
I’ve always loved shopping, James.
I’m a professional shopper.
And so from being a young
little girl, I loved that.
And now I joke that I just
shop at a much grander scale.
Shopping for real estate.
It’s for real estate and the retailers.
So I bring new retailers
into the market as well.
To provide new amenities, new offerings
and to really enrich people’s lives.
So my tagline is it’s beyond retail.
It’s living fully.
So I see commercial real estate,
as bringing beauty to people’s lives
through these doors,
through the new offerings.
People get to maybe try new menus, meals,
maybe it’s different clothing,
maybe it’s different decor for your home.
Maybe it’s a new fitness boutique.
You like working out?
I’m a big runner.
So it’s fulfilling those other aspects
of people’s lives that all falls
under this beautiful retail umbrella.
Yes, interesting, because it sets
the tone for a neighborhood.
When I drive down East Washington,
depending upon where you are in East
Washington, there’s a different vibe.
Good or bad.
Or just different.
You just imagine if I was
a visitor to the Madison area.
What am I thinking?
Right when I see
three different check cashing places.
Well, when you think about it,
the East Corridor, that’s a perfect
example that you brought up. Years ago
it was just kind of desolate.
If you flew in from out of state,
you’re at the airport.
It’s natural to come down.
You’re going to be going down that road.
That’s the main
entrance to downtown. Exactly.
And this is what you get to see.
And smoke over the right
over the past six plus years.
You just see what a transformation
And it was neat is
I actually lived in that area,
so I got to experience it firsthand.
And it’s so nice.
It has so many.
It just has so many different venues.
You think of what Otto Gephardt has done.
Of course, Curt Brink,
originally in the neighborhood
I mean, it’s really bringing beauty
and experience to people’s lives,
additional safety, because with numbers,
people feel more safe.
It’s just a common
concept, if you want to say.
And with that,
people are thriving in that area
where they love, well, minus covid.
They love going to concerts.
We’d love to!
We just cross our fingers
that day will return.
And it just does so much,
and that’s where even the physical
properties themselves are going back
to that artist in me is
it’s art on a grand scale.
And as different areas are cleaned up,
people just feel better and additional
pedestrians brings greater safety.
And it just allows people
to experience more, have more.
And as you have more,
I think you naturally give more.
That’s very fair.
And so I see commercial real estate
in a very creative, unique manner,
probably different than some people.
But it’s just something I love.
And I live it and I.
I live downtown.
OK, I’ve lived downtown for many years
and that’s where I run and I
check in on properties.
I have a lot in the downtown
and the suburbs as well,
but I’m a distance runner,
so I’ll run out to Fitchburg.
I’ll run out.
So we really are is.
As my as is a few miles to go.
Well, you’re the weights, right?
And so I throw on my focus
my tennis shoes that I love.
And I explore and I run all year long.
So I’m checking in on properties.
I know what’s happening
to other properties and it’s just very
much a part of who I am and a service
that I deliver to my clients.
That’s you know, that’s one thing about
this whole covid thing that I miss.
Oh, I mean, there’s lots of things I
shouldn’t say the right thing, right?
Only one grilled cheese.
We are Wisconsin is the one of the things
that I miss is that used
to drive to meetings.
And as you drive to meetings,
you see what’s happening.
This building’s going up.
This building’s coming down.
Your campus and you think
there’s a hole in the ground.
What was there before?
You know, it wasn’t empty,
but you just you would have kind of your
ear to the ground or at least eyes on
the ground to know what was going on.
And no, I’ll go to a meeting
once a month.
Or you you’ll be like, hey,
I found something on Craigslist for sale.
It’s on the west end of town.
That’s fantastic, because I actually
get to go somewhere and see someone.
You know, driving will be like,
when did that thing go up?
Oh, like it had to have taken them
months to put the building up.
And that’s what’s interesting, too, is I
in the commercial realm,
I always say it’s kind of like you’re
living in two worlds, OK,
because there’s a lot of confidential
information and trials and that’s where
to and certain segments of land
or different properties
being in my arena.
I know that there’s conversations about
this or sure, demo this and build this,
whereas others, you know,
it’s known and it’s in the news and.
And people are driving by and experiencing
you know, it’s kind of like that little
balancing of morals is what I say.
But just because of my industry,
that’s where I am out driving and also
touring different sites with people and
just making sure that I know what’s
happening with my properties.
Yeah, that’s where to.
I’ll just drop in at different businesses
and on and and just talk to people.
And that’s where I love
the direct feedback.
Talking with retailers.
And I get to understand and look
through their eyes, OK.
And understand how is it affecting them.
And of course a lot have
been hit very hard.
And that’s why you have
to be a resource, right.
If you think about it,
any challenge in life,
personal or professional,
if you have a resource,
doesn’t it just give you that leg up?
Because you know that there’s
a lifeline, right?
And so whether it’s connecting someone
with another business owner,
connecting them with a resource, a lender,
a real estate attorney, contractor,
you name it,
I’ve always joked if you are dropped off
in a city you’re not aware of,
find a real estate firm.
Oh, they would know we’re always out.
And so in that sense,
it’s just nice to be able to offer
that assistance to people, too.
And I’m a firm believer in what comes
around, goes around it
just being a good person and really
putting your client’s interests
ahead and knowing the market.
And again, growing up here, I still
go through all the different
suburbs and I knock on doors.
I make phone calls.
And one of the things that I found out
through covid is with the mask media,
the mask mandate that
people felt a lot more safe.
And so there was an uptick as far as
people visiting different stores.
Of course, they really appreciated.
And in certain areas, you know,
they’re breaking even.
Some categories, of course, they’re
their numbers are on the roof,
like the bicycling arena.
Yeah, pizza is doing extremely well.
So these different takeouts are actually
making more money than they did last year.
And if they were prepared
and they didn’t even know it.
And of course, others, unfortunately,
it’s a completely different story.
But that’s weird to talking
with the Nationals.
A lot of them are looking for travelers,
as you can imagine, even if they didn’t
have that as part of their concept.
Chipotle, like you hear
the new Chipotle Lane.
Oh, I haven’t.
So it hasn’t come to the Madison area yet.
But instead of a drive thru where you
drive up to the board,
you obviously place your order.
Chipotle Lane, as they’re marketing it,
it’s all app driven.
So you go on to a little app, you order,
you pay for OK,
and then you just go through the drive
lane and you just pick it up and go.
And so that’s also where Panera is
looking for drive thru locations.
A lot of these standardized retailers
at the national level are incorporating
that because no one wants to get burned
like they did in twenty twenty,
which is completely understandable.
So it’s interesting to see
how it’s shaking things up.
And in a word that we always hear pivoting
and it’s like new normal, right?
It is just like what in the new normal.
But I don’t know of any business
that hasn’t had to pivot for something.
Even if it’s a minor one.
I mean, the whole point of being
an entrepreneur is that you’re solving
problems and you hope that you
can afford to solve it.
So what it comes down to is you making
enough money to solve them when it
really comes down to prioritizing.
Of understanding the market, the feedback.
What they’re seeing through
their sales or lack thereof,
I think having a social
presence is really huge.
And that’s social online or online.
And that’s where, unfortunately, something
some businesses didn’t have websites,
which is hard to imagine.
That’s where it’s interesting of working
with locals, regionals, nationals.
You have the full gamut.
And it’s two very different worlds.
But that’s where the Nationals
aren’t traveling right now.
Whereas the mom and pops,
some are looking to to expand.
So what I’m coming across is people are
either looking to expand or to they’re
completely opposite of there’s no way
in God’s green earth they’re just right.
Batten the hatches down and.
So, as you know, as an entrepreneur,
it comes down to the power of choice.
And some people really are challenged
in making choices where
they spend a lot of time.
On the front and even the back end.
And you just don’t have that time, right?
I was just talking
with my business partner.
So wouldn’t you think today
about how people
that taking the time to make a choice,
that that time is just free?
No, but that time is not free.
Like the decision not to make
a decision is a decision, right?
The world is changing whether you
pull the trigger on something or not.
And that’s for two.
You’ll look at a lot
of successful business owners.
They are very decisive.
They look at the numbers
and they go with their gut.
That it’s it’s not a one or the other.
And everyone is going
to make mistakes, totally.
But that’s where as an entrepreneur,
you pick yourself back up and dusted off.
And you learn of note to self.
I will not do that again or
I’ll do this differently.
you just really have to be able to shift
and contort yourself and heed the market.
Is that what you want is what they want
and people that listen and really build
those relationships and deliver
on that that are successful.
So it’s yeah.
It’s a culmination of a lot
of different skill sets.
And you have to be decisive
a few totally thousand times.
When I was talking to a friend that owns
a retail store on State Street
and she’s having a rough time,
not not to the point of closing like a lot
of stores have,
but it made me think, what if,
like you hear about all the stores
closing, you hear about restaurants
closing, bars, closing is just going
to change the dynamic of a lot of areas.
It is right.
And probably not in a good way.
Well, and that’s the challenge.
I’m I’m on the the big board.
I’m actually the executive committee.
So funny you bring that up.
But anyways, with State Street,
it is it has been hit hard
and there’s been a proxima.
Twenty six businesses that have
permanently closed, twenty six,
twenty six and there’s, I want to say
around 14 that are temporarily closed.
So that’s a big number.
How many are there?
There’s I was like one
hundred and fifty two.
So you’re already up to a third or just
Sha’re said there’s a significant portion
and that’s where they anticipate, you
know, next year that there could be 50.
Yeah, well easily.
Totally believe it.
Because it’s there’s no
from my point of view.
There’s no clear end in sight.
For a moment I was well I
guess we get PBP loan right.
And it says multiple employees
and two point five months.
And you say, all right, two 1/2 months.
This will be done right.
Then June or July,
whatever it was, came and went.
And you’re like, OK, after the election.
This will blow over every election because
we’ll be concentrating on election.
We’ll forget this COBRA
thing exists, right?
Well, that came and went right.
Sort of like
New Year’s know it’s true.
And if you think about it, you know,
I joke I always pull fitness into this,
which I’m sure you do to totally.
You think about people with the fast
twitch muscles, right?
Then you’ve got the slow twitch,
your long distance and covid
is a long distance sport.
Turns out it.
It’s the end of year.
And that’s where what’s interesting is
in the in the office category,
you know at first it was through end
of year twenty twenty,
then it was end of first quarter and now
that’s where it’s really shifting
into kind of second quarter.
Returns to offices.
So the end of second quarter.
So that’s it.
July of twenty twenty one.
So hopefully you know Pfizer or someone
will come out with that miracle.
Right, right, right.
But I feel like they just need to throw a
placebo in a syringe and just like this.
Wouldn’t that be nice.
And you’re right.
It’s all about the sugar pill.
As far as artistry is concerned is just
going to it’s it’s one of those you have
the immediate hit and it’s going to ripple
through and take years to read it.
And it’s one of those we are trying
to get it into a stronger space.
And it was becoming that.
And obviously we’ve got a few
extra years to add onto that, too.
But the nice thing is sometimes when
there is a major shake up,
it gives us an opportunity to really
recreate it and create something that we
had, you know, have that was even
better than right where we are going.
So in that’s true.
You know, I, I do believe there’s hope in.
The nice thing is I plan on being
in the downtown for quite a long time.
And so it was not going away annuity.
And I, I have a lot
of business in the downtown.
So my personal goal and also a business
for abstract is is really recreating
that and bringing dimensionality to it.
And I fully believe that the local,
regional and national
retailers, we need all of them.
And in bringing everyone together
in that sense, I think it’ll create
and just recreate the street.
Yeah, I was so I had to get this
part from a dishwasher, right.
And then look online, I can get
the part for twenty, thirty bucks.
Something like that.
I find it locally.
It was forty bucks and change
and I had no problem going
to the retail like I had to drive.
I to see a person.
I had a carbon copy receipt.
That’s a whole nother.
It’s the kinesthetically right.
But I’m like if,
if too many people shop for stuff
that is an immediate need, um online
places like that are going to go away
or be limited and you’re going
to change the look of the city.
You’re going to change the availability
of product to keep the city moving.
It’s just going to change
the whole dynamic.
And what I would consider to be
not in a good way overall.
Not a good way, right?
And I agree with what you’re seeing.
But here’s where my belief is that
retailers that that stay in that same
old same old queue per say, sure.
Are not going to fare well,
whereas, OK, it’s fair.
And you hear about.
Right, we kept hearing about
the experiential of retail
in twenty nineteen twenty.
And it’s really though providing
an experience because if you’re,
if your marketing is based
off of volume and numbers.
Amazon is going to win every time.
Yes, but if you truly provide great
customer service, answer the questions,
maybe provide different options that they
wouldn’t have thought of and create
that you cannot buy on Amazon.
with our tech savvy and apps and people
all stuck in their iPhones,
sometimes I am too.
Is that listening to Sweet podcast?
But people are craving connection.
And Amazon does not provide that.
So as long as retailers step up
to that realm and they’re going to have
to recreate it in a different way and it’s
going to take work, rate change is hard.
It’s not always fun.
But the retailers that do
offer that they will be able to charge
a premium price because you can’t buy
that online and people want attention.
Here’s a perfect example.
National retailer Lululemon.
OK, who hasn’t heard of it
in the fitness room.
So they have these great high end athletic
clothes, but it pains me,
but it’s seventy five dollars a shirt.
I’ve got a few because I love them.
And in my mind, I’m like,
I’m running all the time.
When you feel good, you look good.
I believe they’re combined.
So it’s it’s like you’re
investing in yourself.
But they take it a step further
that they have running communities.
Oh, they have yoga.
They have different fitness.
So they’re not just selling athletic where
they are truly selling connection.
You meet other runners and also
when when you meet other people.
That sends your natural endorphins.
And that’s where two
people are working out.
They’re feeling good.
They’re meeting people
can help them on a personal level career.
So it I mean, it helps your
immune system totally.
So there’s so much more than just
an athletic experience interest rather
than just going to not just glamazon.
So do you see the difference in see how
you can charge a higher,
higher price because you get them hooked?
Yeah, I’m hooked.
So it just the whole
service quality and price.
So it just depends on thinking outside of
the box and creating more for a person.
It’s going to require a lot more energy,
but you’re also going to secure
that person as a client.
yeah, that’s true.
I feel like we as a society commodity’s
a lot of stuff that maybe necessarily
shouldn’t be much so much.
But on the flip side,
you go past the coffee shop, right?
And you can see
their drive thru line is insanely long.
And like black coffee and over ten cents.
But you’re paying five bucks for it there.
And you’re waiting in line for it.
What are you getting
from experience point of view.
There must be something.
Well, if you think about it,
it’s something out of the old ordinary.
OK, so I’ll admit I love getting lattes.
I get hooked on that.
What are they.
So it’s not all that soy.
Oh, it’s oat.
And they’re so good.
And of course that’s an up charge.
It is a must try
to think about it when you leave.
You’re about six dollars.
But at the same time,
like in my mind, it’s a treat.
I can make coffee at home.
But there’s something about
and for me, I go in in person.
I love seeing everyone.
They’re like, Hi Heather.
Oh, right now you belong.
You’re community right there.
So it’s one of those where
they’re just so good and right.
It’s kind of like an extended family.
Yeah, I don’t know.
Can you make an old lady at home?
Oh, no, no, no.
I’m the same way.
OK, to me it’s the coffee cycle.
It’s not good, right?
I love my morning coffee, but it
just makes something extra special.
And that’s for a because in commercials
you’re always out doing things.
And so I have a few favorites,
but it’s it’s just nice because you see
the familiar faces, especially with covid.
And that’s where some are staying open.
Even if they’re not making money,
which my heart goes out to them.
I just you know, I want so badly for them
to be rewarded for their work and their
time and things of that nature.
And at the same time,
it’s so generous of them because they’re
trying to do what they can
for their clients and customers.
Madison as a whole,
the employees are going and employees,
you know, and that’s to me, that’s
just a big public service agreement.
And I think with so many retailers,
they have worked and bust of their butt,
especially in the food arena, 60,
80 hours to little Johnny’s birthday.
that’s going to have to happen elsewhere.
They miss out on so many things and it’s
such tight margins until you get three
units or more
stores and things of that nature.
And I always say, God bless you,
because that’s what, you know,
is just so much time, energy and effort.
And when you look
to the food is perishable.
You have you have tight time frames
and so many different things.
And it’s just a very selfless area.
And a lot of times people have memories
of with their grandmother or
being a parent or someone.
So it’s very familial.
And that’s where to I just love all
different people that I work
with of how they got started.
And when was that point in time that you
knew that this was an area you wanted
to invest your money, your time, your
energy, all the different things into it.
So it’s it’s very personal,
but yet it’s great
helping them succeed and hit their numbers
so they can provide for themselves,
their family and take vacations and do
great things for the community.
It’s a really neat,
just creative, amazing arena.
And just, again, I.
I feel so fortunate to be in it.
That’s pretty cool.
Yeah, that’s pretty cool.
So how do you I guess
let’s talk about pricing for real estate,
because it’s always something that I’ve
been curious about when I’ve
gotten offices or warehouse space.
I think those are the two types
that I’ve had to get in the past.
Right with our businesses.
Sometimes I would see,
depending upon the season, right,
I would see tons of available space.
For a given price.
And nobody seemed to want
to fluctuate on the price.
And other times you see like this place,
I get what I can say
that the time to be a deal.
I don’t know if it’s a deal now,
but I didn’t see this one coming.
So I guess how do people,
the landlords or the managing companies
figure out how to price
a place and grade it?
That’s always been a curious
thing with the ABC office space.
Yeah, I feel like there’s a lot of people
calling the space A or even B,
and I’m like,
Maybe it’s the volume or
that’s what I see here
qualify as a right.
Well, it’s one of those
you each landlord designates their pricing
and I can’t speak for everyone,
but I would hope that people are looking
at their competition and seeing
where they rank, OK?
And sometimes people just get
anchored on a certain number.
Maybe they ran their numbers and their
sweet spot is this range and they
just put it in at that range.
Ninety seven percent
of my business is retail.
OK, so I really am highly
niched in that arena.
but as far as retail,
when I’m working with people,
I look to see the competition,
what they offer, where their base ranges
are, their triple net lease
terms, also the amenities.
And the big driver of that too is
density of vehicles and or pedestrians.
OK, so essentially traffic that’s
going to say that you exist.
It’s almost a marketing.
Oh, very much so.
And that’s where looking at those
indicators, what’s interesting is going
back to State Street is we actually have
pedestrian counters on that street.
You really we do their borders.
So it’s what’s nice is you can do
you just go on to the DMI website.
Well, that’s awesome.
And you can find the information, OK?
And with that, it’s broken down by block,
is broken down by day,
month, and then you can also get yours.
So what’s interesting is at the top
of State Street versus the lower,
you know, there’s almost like
two different demographics.
And so what would work well in the five,
six hundred block would not at the top.
And so that’s fair to just understanding
of the street and how it works.
But that’s where
we had over three and a half million
in the five, six hundred
block the other year.
And what’s interesting and I used
to always tell people
on the north side of the street is
the sunny side, OK, people
naturally cross the street.
Oh, and it’s funny because ice where
people used to just think nice sales line,
but when the when the pedestrian council
came out, it shows there’s about.
Five hundred thousand
person difference annually.
Wow, so that’s where two numbers are so
you know, whether it’s commercial real
estate or any other arena of pointing
to the facts of,
you know, if you have an extra five
hundred thousand, that’s insane.
But it’s such a heavily trafficked because
this weekend there’s something in there
that’s going to be an extra 5000 people
that Saturday or Sunday or whatever.
Of course, right now the numbers are
are less than half.
I mean, you know a bit,
a bit about 30 percent.
So it really it really affects that.
So going back to pricing things,
those were different indicators.
And also who who are the co tenants?
OK, you have strong anchors and that’s
where working with the national sun will
only go into areas where
there’s a large grocer, the or
air traffic like that of some kind.
And that’s where then when you look
you’ll see kind of clumpiness
of who anchors with each other, Gojo, they
realize that this is a good fit for us.
And that their numbers come through.
I use a lot of that.
And then also just working with a lot
of retailers, I would say that my
my information isn’t diluted
in the sense of everyone I’m talking
to for the most part is a retailer.
I’m not talking to retail
OK, so everyone I’m talking
to is in this market.
And so that’s where from
sharing comps and things of that nature
and getting a feel for it and knowing
what they desire, what they don’t desire.
And just having that experience,
it helps in pricing.
Interesting how important
from a retail point of view
you consider parking to be
downtown is crucial.
so this again, is it all depends on where
your listing is at or the development.
OK, you have to see through
the eyes of a customer.
So if it’s the west side of Madison,
you really need to have plenty of parking
right at the door
because if you have to walk a block,
that’s going to be a major faux pas.
It’s just not going to happen.
Whereas in the downtown,
it’s that group of customers and clients,
they know they’re probably
going to walk a block or two.
And so it just depends
on where the listing is at.
And that’s where to in helping different
developers because they’re going
to construct a new mixed use
or something of that nature.
We talk about ceiling heights.
We talk about parking.
You’re your street parking.
All those dimensions, the build out,
how it’s going to be delivered,
when they take possession,
if they can build in tandem
at the end of the development.
What amenities is there?
A rooftop terrace?
Do they have access to fitness,
A lot of different factors.
So you look at it all up front and also
the flow, OK, and that’s where to anyone
now I’m pleading with them and have
for a while,
if you can get a drive through, get it.
It sure can’t get a lane.
If you can’t get a lane,
have a walk up window.
Like it’s becoming a new norm.
That is not right.
There’s that phrase again, correct.
So worst case, you don’t read it.
You always want to plan B, right?
People got burned really bad.
And you know what I liken it to,
to a lot of people is
if you have a salaried job
and you work for a corporation,
what if that went down
to twenty five percent?
That gives you just an inkling
of what it’s like for a retailer.
And actually that’s even generous, right.
Because the retailers are trying to push
out different deliveries, space that out,
especially the food and other
things like that where
they don’t even make it.
Twenty five percent.
It’s like they cut the pay
and made their job harder.
Because now you’ve got to build up your
website to allow for online orders
and then paying, paying per click
and all these different things.
And luckily we were able to get the street
to reprogram in the downtown,
But now we’ve got winter coming.
And that’s where there’s some really great
ideas for really embracing winter
since we choose to live in Wisconsin
every yearfor family.
so that’s where it’s different.
And that’s also where
I’ve brought that up.
To people to in the corporate arena of,
OK, you have a 401k,
but for a lot of these business owners,
their 401k is in real estate.
And so that also has a different
So it’s all very different.
And again, you know,
we all choose the arenas that we’re in.
when you lose, you lose heart.
When you win, you can really win.
It’s just a very different risk
tolerance interest you pay to play.
How have you seen rents
change at all over the past?
Well, I guess since you started
your your own firm, right?
Well, with covid, I would definitely
say rents are different to some degree.
The nice thing is,
as far as rent integrity,
I’d say Madison is probably stronger
than some of the other areas.
OK, rent integrity.
What’s it and what what I mean
by that is they are offering,
you know, some of the carbon pricing is
what I would like
to do, because they acknowledge
and understand that people just are not
in the same space as they were when 19.
At the same time, everyone understands
that this isn’t going to be forever.
OK, I won’t accept that as a new norm.
And so with that,
they are working together.
And that’s something
I’m really proud about.
I think it’s an old paradigm of where
there was the animosity
between tenant and owner.
I know it’s much more collaborative and I
think that’s just an old
method of thinking, OK,
and it’s good to you have to set the stage
of educating people so that they
can see through each other’s eyes.
And really the goal is for a win
and bring both sides right.
Because if it’s a if it’s a hard sided
one side deal, that’s just not worth it.
And so it’s really finding something where
both sides are going to feel good about
it, have a good working
relationship and things happen.
And so having that good communication
and just really collaborating
together I think is important.
And so with that, you know,
I anticipate a couple of years
things are going to be different.
OK, that’s where a lot of leases to you’ll
see attorneys are writing
in different covid
verbiage and things
of that nature is in the lease,
So that if a worldwide
pandemic shows it right.
OK, so both sides are adjusting
and collaborating for the most part,
always a few that don’t.
But I think people are really going
to remember who worked with them
and who didn’t, and that is going
to have a long term effect.
Madison has always fared
very well in general.
I think due to the university
being the state capitol,
things of that nature versus some
of the other cities throughout Wisconsin.
And that’s what I meant by rent integrity.
OK, just to return to the
strong numbers, we adapt.
You look at things for where they are
and then you also plan for the future.
And that’s where State Street two
of you have long term ownership.
That you if you want a really high return,
you want to buy in on something else.
But typically, if you want stability,
State Street has been stable for years
and years and years,
even though the fluctuations.
I don’t see it going away.
No, but if you look at, I guess,
the history of State Street, right.
Then there’s seasonality right there.
But you look in the ownership has has
held the properties for a long time.
And I see that continuing.
And with everything happening
in the market right now, again,
people are either leasing or they’re not.
But what’s really hot
are the the sales, OK?
And that’s where the sales
of property investment sales.
There’s been a little bit on State Street,
but mostly it’s in, you know,
in the other sections of Madison.
Like the the malls.
Well, they’re declaring bankruptcy.
And again, you know,
that’s where you’ll see in the larger
markets of their restructuring and they’re
breaking it down instead of big boxes.
They’re breaking it down into smaller
footprints and adding more variety,
more service and also
trying to get some of the local mom
and pops and fostering them through
where they do grow and extend, OK.
So I think disruption in any arena will
always bring that initial
scare and of into the fan.
But then it also opens the door
to creativity and opportunities
for creating something that might be even
more beneficial for where
we’re at in the world.
That’s fair, right?
That’s fair, right?
I guess in the case of the malls,
I feel like that was becoming.
I love this term,
but I’ve dated a dinosaur.
Yeah, right, and that’s where you look,
even Hilldale Mall Development,
they saw the writing on the wall years ago
and they took it to an open
air shopping center.
So it’s breathing new life into it.
And with that, the three phases,
they went through phases one and two.
Phase three is on hold.
But just even think of that and how
it’s more dynamic, actually.
Great for covid.
You’re out in the open air,
things of that nature.
And it’s been a great amenity.
A lot of new operators to that area.
I think it’s one of those.
Everyone has a spot within retail.
And it’s just a matter of getting your
your bearings, working out the kinks.
And as you get larger,
you move into more high end properties,
maybe with a larger rent where you’re also
working with more of the nationals.
And so people shopping at these areas are
then going to come to your
service seeing more traffic.
You just keep upgrading.
Depending on what your goals are.
It’s such a weird
I don’t know, isn’t is an interesting
market and interesting.
The whole commercial real estate
thing is fascinating to me.
I love it.
It’s it’s such a part
of my life anywhere I go.
And I’m always thinking about retail
and talking to people and the owners or
how do you connect with them
and and getting different ideas,
even from a design perspective.
What looks good?
How do we incorporate that into some
of the business and retailers
and just breathing more life?
Because as we bring in more people, sure.
That the competition increases.
But at the same time, we all want to play
full out, you know, like yourself.
Well, I’d like to think so, buthopefully.
And that’s where to you want to push
yourself to become better and share
more and and perfect your craft.
And I just love meeting new people
and understanding how they
crafted their deal,
how they brought this retailer and what
amenities this retailer can bring to this
area, how you might enjoy your life more
by trying this or maybe at some type
of massage or maybe it’s, you know,
some different element,
maybe in some great chiropractic,
you know, that that helps someone’s back
and they have renewed life and energy.
So whatever it takes is so many different
shapes and forms that I think, too.
It just it brings new life into
old spaces and also people’s lives.
So it’s just a thing of beauty all around.
How do people find you?
Because I imagine there’s always people
looking for for commercial real estate.
Maybe I’ll take that back when I.
You presented it to the class, right?
back when you could do in person teach.
And there were people that didn’t know
how to rent the space,
like didn’t they’re going to start their
coffee shop or the restaurant or
their workout place or whatever.
And they’re like, OK, I’m ready to rent.
What do I do right now?
And it’s one of those.
You don’t run into commercial real estate
brokers nearly as much in Arquettes.
You know, there’s there’s fewer of us,
especially when you compare
it to the residential arena.
But a lot of it is word of mouth.
OK, I tell people and that’s where I
really enjoy and working with the locals
regionals and nationals, because it’s
a completely different conversation.
The the basis of what you need
to know is typically the same.
But with the person maybe that’s just
starting, like you said, with Quebec,
it’s really nice to understand
what their goal is.
They need to be clear with it.
And then that’s where to finding
the right site that’s within a budget.
A lot of times people want to start out
with this big, great, huge space
and the overhead is going to kill them.
And so I think it’s having those direct
and honest communications and also make
sure that they know their numbers.
You have to go to your lender,
your business plan, which you
always help them out with.
Those are all crucial factors.
So that is one subset.
When you go to the next the regionals,
typically they’ve got a few
locations, a few stores.
If they’re coming from
Milwaukee, let’s say.
Yeah, regionally to the Madison area.
So they’re usually pretty savvy
on the different leases and that’s where
it’s really helping them
find the right location.
OK, they know Madison,
but they don’t know it like I do.
Regional would be like a pick
and save or like regional.
It could be like, for example, Colectivo.
Right out of Milwaukee,
I didn’t know there, Madison,
you look at me out of touch
or or that’s where a lot of the different
groups just working with them here,
the Nomad, for example,
I worked with them and the ownership side,
but it’s it’s helping them to find
locations that will work for them,
understanding the market,
the demographics, and
they’re already savvy.
So you don’t have to talk
about the business plans.
All those they’re clear on what they want.
They just really need the local expertise.
OK, and then it’s working
And then as you work with the Nationals,
that’s where they’ve
done it a hundred times.
They already have all their their
floor plans of what they need.
They’re very clear on their square footage
and really their deal requirements.
And so then it’s it’s kind of massaging
that into whichever property is going to
work so that everything aligns with that.
And that’s where typically I’m on the
owners side of something like that.
So it’s just merging the gaps and really
looking at what’s the total
deal that we can give.
It’s also a different deal.
Terms come into play.
It’s based on who the tenant is,
how successful they are, their lease
term in some of these other things.
OK, so it’s it’s a different scenario.
And each of them.
but it’s fun because you’re tapping in
at different areas with with each other.
OK, so it’s fun.
I want to ask you because you’re
in the commercial real estate realm,
especially with the retail when I see
OK, Kmart was kicking butt for a while
and then close up shop and now you still
go through some small towns, still
have that empty Kmart, just that box.
And I think the one in Oklahoma where I
grew up, I think the roof even caved in.
Like from snow or something like that.
It just hung out like.
So who who typically owns those and how do
leases work with a lot
of that big box, though?
Because I get the impression it’s not
the Kmart’s of the world
that own the property.
Well, you know, with the larger ones,
I don’t have as much experience
with some of those big boxes per say.
But sometimes that’s where
when they shutter the store,
the money actually goes out
to the taxpayers where they end
up paying some type of relief.
OK, so that, of course, is is a factor
that a lot of people don’t like.
Also, they’ll sit on it for a while
and until they sell it off, yeah,
it’s just desolate and that’s where to.
It’s an eyesore.
But from a dollars perspective, you know,
they’ve already redistributed their
resources and it’s on to another spot.
So it’s more of an eyesore in that sense.
And it’s a lot of times these places will
sit until a negotiation is reached or they
don’t want to tear it apart because they
might backfill it in with another store.
So that’s where to even on State Street,
you’ll see some of these vacancies
are just vacant for a while because
the owners have had the property
for a long time and they
don’t have to lease it.
Oh, that’s a common misconception.
People frequently think
if a place is vacant,
while they would love to have me in it,
and that’s not necessarily how it always
is, because people are can be a liability.
Totally not if you have a solid tenant.
But sometimes if
if it’s a newer person and maybe they’re
not really sure what they’re doing,
then you have to you know,
there’s the possibility that they’re not
paying and you have to evict Raymond
and all this back and forth
where there’s a headache.
It’s one factor.
And so sometimes it’s easier to just leave
it vacant or sometimes do they
want a certain type of retailer?
They want a certain food, OK?
And they’re able to be
choosy because they don’t need the rent.
And so until they find something
like that, they can wait.
So it’s just a different world than
what a lot of people would assume.
And that’s where two deals times, if they
can be a few months or they can be years.
So it just really depends on what it is.
And to if you’re going through a different
whether it’s a story that’s going to take
longer different licenses,
liquor and different things,
it it really just depends
on the deal itself.
So interesting, isn’t it?
Is it you bring up an interesting point
talking about the city,
has it been challenging working
with the city with some or have you seen
challenges with different cities or
jurisdictions with retailers trying to get
whatever it is, you know,
in a drive thru or a patio?
The drive thru
that’s been challenging for a lot
of owners to to get
approvals and drive through
the challenges from a leasing standpoint,
it could be leased out very quickly.
But, you know, depending on space,
depending on the roads and different
things of that nature,
there’s a lot of factors involved.
OK, so I don’t profess to know that.
I just know it’s a lot easier to lease.
Especially Story Heights.
Ascendent Holdings was working
with a boutique hotel over
the top of State Street.
And it took about two and a half years.
To get the additional story height.
And then at that point,
they didn’t have the funding.
So it was a lot of work,
but the funding went away.
Or just got spent elsewhere.
OK, so unfortunately,
the one hundred block of state
has remained as they are.
And decision not to make a decision.
And so that’s where to know.
We have a scene in the arena
that time kills dels.
Oh, and it does.
And that’s where you can abdelal fatigue,
where people get tired
of going back and forth.
And after a while it’s like
this party doesn’t care.
Maybe this party or maybe this party
doesn’t feel they’re being respected
and this party is tired of it.
Or maybe something happened in someone’s
family and now they’re moving.
Oh, I’m sure.
Or they just aren’t going
to start this concept.
Or, you know,
there’s a multitude of different things
where maybe someone’s
having health problems.
Right, that ends that.
Or maybe there’s some new property that’s
coming out now because this
deal was taking so long.
We’re just going to move on now.
The Nationals going over here instead,
because this has greater opportunity
and we didn’t have to move right away.
So there’s a lot of factors
that can come into play.
And that’s where, if you think about it
in commercial brokerage,
unless you’re charging council fees
and other things of that nature,
you don’t get paid until the lease
is executed or the sale closes.
So everything else is like
you’re a public servant
right up until that point.
And that’s where to sometimes people are
just like, you know, they feel that, well,
why don’t you just work for free?
And it’s one of those everyone wants
to get paid for what they do
work for free just entirely.
No, at times.
And and so it’s always kind of humorous.
It hasn’t happened in a long time.
But it was it was interesting
in the early days of like,
well, can’t you just do the deals like
no one, just like you want to be paid.
I’ll be paid as well.
So it’s just funny.
It’s such a weird question.
I mean, like, would you ask
your doctor for a free surgery.
I don’t know that one.
The joke on my end is that nobody uses
a discount for Lasik right
now because who would write.
You would have to question their right,
their thought process.
Like what did you cut
to give me this discount.
What did you not cut that exactly?
So it’s it’s an interesting world.
And that’s why I say to of who needs to go
to Vegas when you’re in commercial real
estate, there’s so much variety and it’s
you know, it’s forever changing
and flowing and it’s very time sensitive
where especially with different products.
The nice thing is, as you know, an arena,
that’s where you can add more value
because there’s properties that come
up that aren’t listed yet.
And it’s keeping in your mind and also
in your CRM system,
which I hope people have,
is to be able to reach out and add value.
Because at the end of the day,
it’s about providing value,
providing a service and also helping
people know that they have all the tools
that they need to make
the choice right for them.
And it’s their choice.
And I think sometimes people
get that in reverse where they’re trying
to push upon them what they want.
And it’s really their choice.
And that’s rare in any arena.
Some people can get focused too much on,
I think, the commission and want to push
a deal through for their
own personal interests.
But I think at the end of the day,
you can put your
head on your pillow and feel good about
what you’ve done,
looking out for your client.
And to me, that’s also what
fosters the long term.
When you’re servicing people, you’re good.
And I always say
I’m going to have to put my trust
and faith in people in different arenas.
And so I want to I want to come across
the person that’s going to help me.
I help people and navigate
that and do what’s right for me.
it’s really simple.
At the end of the day, a person.
No, no, you’re arena.
Do a great job and have
fun at the same time.
That’s the name of the game right there.
If you’re not enjoying it,
you’re doing something.
Completely wrong business.
So, Heather, thank you so
much for being on the show.
Definitely for having me.
Yeah, this is awesome.
How can people find you?
They can reach me on my website
Or they can also reach me at 608-239-4781.
Tell me really quick.
How did you come up with a name? Abstract?
So I have always had
that creative artistic spirit.
And so I’ve actually been
oil painting for many years.
Have you really.
And many years ago I had
started a small art business.
It’s commissioned oil paintings.
We were talking for an hour and this just came up?
I joke that it was during
my midlife crisis in my thirties.
Because prior to that, I had worked in
the operations arena for 11 years.
And, you know, like I was saying,
with the capacity, planning and overseas
toolings, all of that forecasting
and gathered a lot of great knowledge.
And then I was just like, you know,
it’s not fulfilling me, though, right?
The money was nice, but I wasn’t
really that passionate about it.
OK, so I went through
and took years of work.
I tried different things and looking back,
I would have done it differently.
But I started and art business, later
it was fitness I was a personal trainer
and coach. Really? All
of these different things.
So how long are we talking?
Gosh, that was late 2000s.
And then I got into real
estate in 2010.
OK, and so it’s.
I mean you just pick the years
to get into real estate.
Isn’t that the truth.
So anyways, from that
fast forwarding to the commercial sector,
I was just like, this is perfect.
All right, because I get to use that base
from operations, the time where I
tried a lot of different things.
So I knew what worked and what didn’t.
What traits, what skill sets.
And then in the commercial retail sector
of it’s just so fun and it
bridged all of that together.
So tying in with the name of abstract is, I
get to use that creative spirit
in with all these different deals.
And also the retailers that I
work with are very creative.
It may not be an oil painting, right.
Your paint brush on a big canvas,
but I see each of those
retailers as a canvas. Fair.
So I paint with them their needs,
their goals, their desires,
and I get them the lease deal that they
need to be able to do all that.
Or maybe I sell the property
that allows them to do that.
So they’re fulfilled.
I am fulfilled.
And again, it’s bringing beauty to lives.
The landscape and also the the big
developments that I work on.
They are beautiful.
And I love seeing the floor plans,
the site plan, building the layers.
And also when they start building it,
I’m all taking pictures
of it and just sharing that.
And it’s it’s a huge painting.
It’s art on a grand scale.
Nice, I see.
I take the abstract.
And then I bring it
into if you want to say,
it into life
in that sense.
You’re obviously the developers are doing
so much and the owners
and construction and the retailers.
But I get to be a part of that process.
And I love that you helped orchestrate it.
That’s super cool.
Oh, exactly, that’s clever.
Heather, thank you so much
for being on the show.
My pleasure, James.
This has been cool. We’ll have to have a check in.
Yeah, sure. Do we check
in in a year?
When will this blow over.
Well, and that’s why too,
with with it being Covid as like
this is the perfect time to get going.
So what I thought of it is at this time,
the playing field is leveled.
So the firms that have been around for
a while, they’re slower right now, too.
And so I used it really as a time to reach
out to different retailers,
to be a resource, especially in the early
days, and connect them with lenders
for PPP or just different resources or
maybe other businesses,
things of that nature.
And as time has shifted,
people are looking to buy or at least
at some degree.
And that’s where too, I figured,
get my systems in place, all the creative
stuff, the social media, the websites, processes.
And then that way when the
doors do fully open.
Yeah, I’ll be right there.
And so believe it or not,
I have ever been busier now than ever.
I have about 20 listings.
I have great properties.
I work with great owners,
the developers, also the tenants that I
work with, you know, offers in for sales.
It’s been super busy and a great way,
but I’ve also done a lot of door knocking
and prospecting and I
work at a lot of hours.
You gotta earn it.
It doesn’t just happen,
but like anything as you get
that for momentum, it gains speed.
And it’s it’s just great to be able to do
something that I love to help people.
The 20 year overnight success right?
This has been Authentic Business
the business program that brings you
stories and triumphant successes
of business owners across the land.
If you are listening to this on the Web,
please do me a huge favor like, subscribe,
comment, share. Do all that social
stuff that that the world needs to see.
My name is James Kademan
and Authentic Business Adventures is
brought to you by Calls On Call, offering
call answering services for small service
businesses across the country, on the web
at CallsOnCall.com. As well as Draw
In Customers Business Coaching,
offering business coaching services
looking for growth, on the web
at DrawInCustomers.com. As well as
The BOLD Business Book available on Amazon
and wherever fine books are sold.
The ones with the purchasing experience.
We’d like to thank you our wonderful
listeners, as well as our guest,
owner of Abstract Commercial Real Estate.
Heather, thank you so much
for being on the show.
Thank you for having me.
It was a true joy.
This is cool.
We’re going to do this again.
We will most definitely. In a post Covid world.
Find this airing locally on 103.5
Wednesdays at 1:00p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m.,
as well as at SunPrairieMediaCenter.com
Past episodes, of course,
and this one can be found
morning, noon, and night at the podcast
link found at DrawInCustomers.com.
Thank you for listening.
We’ll see you next week.
I want you to stay awesome.
And if you do nothing else,
enjoy your business