Retail Live! Austin real estate conference smashes attendance records

Aug 25, 2014
Austin Business Journal

More than 1,100 people showed up for the Austin real estate networking event dubbed Retail Live! at the Hyatt Regency. It was standing-room only at the hotel’s new ballroom south of Lady Bird Lake with a mix of retailers, developers and brokers vying for attention


Stacey Gilham, a principal with Edge Realty Partners, conceived of the expo as a way to build up her book of business after moving from Florida to Austin. She came up with the concept in November 2011 in partnership with husband Michael Gilham and held the first event in August 2012. Gilham spoke with me recently about the idea and process


With growth at more than 35 percent for this year's event, held on Aug. 21, she is happy the event has caught on so spectacularly — even with competitors


Indeed, many retail brokers who go head to head with Edge were in attendance, from Lance Morris, president of The Retail Connection in Austin, to Adam Zimel, now heading up retail brokerage for Endeavor Real Estate Group


Major developers and operators such as Simon Property Group — one of the largest shopping mall owners in the country and locally — and Catellus — the master developer of Mueller in Central Austin — also had tables promoting their projects


Retailers ran the gamut from HEB Grocery Co. to CVS/pharmacy to Verizon Wireless. Fitness companies such as Gold’s Gym and Orangetheory Fitness also participated, but it was the restaurant segment that dominated — everything from fast food giants like Burger King and Whataburger to more full service joints like Austin-based Chuy’s and national chains like Applebee’s


Other Austin-area companies in evidence were Golfsmith, Snap Kitchen, Sport Clips, Tacodeli, Verts Kepab and Torchy’s Tacos


The four-hour trade show then transitioned into a cocktail party with a Western theme — complete with a mechanical bull with flashing red eyes. The live music lasted into the evening


Gilham now is gearing up for Retail Live! Northeast, which will be held at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in October. Earlier this year she organized Retail Live! events in Chicago, Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida. More expos are in queue in Atlanta, San Francisco and Denver



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