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Dollar Tree in Clementon NJ

Danielle Burnelli Headshot
Episode #: 177
Dollar Tree in Clementon NJ

Guest: Danielle Burnelli
Topics: PRESS Modern Massage, business strategy, navigating 2020


Chris Ressa 0:00
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management.

Well, welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I’m here with Danielle Brunelli. Danielle is the president and a principal at RJ Brunel Ian company. Welcome to the show, Danielle.

Danielle Burnelli 0:30
Thank you. Thanks, Chris.

Ressa 0:33
So Danielle, why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Burnelli 0:39
Sure, RJ panelling company. We specialize in retail real estate. We’re brokers. My father started the company 45 years ago. And we do landlord and tenant representation. I got my real estate license when I was 18 years old, and graduated from Monmouth University, but got got working right away. So I have a really strong network of relationships. Been doing mostly tenant tenant rep work since I started. But yeah,

Ressa 1:13
that’s great. And so we went through this crazy time, how have things how have you been handling what’s gone on over the past two years?

Burnelli 1:25
Um, we never stopped working. Obviously, I represent Dollar Tree and they were one of the tenants that Thank God, you know, kept going, you know, they were even busier during COVID Because they were, you know, still leasing space. You know, and fortunately Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. They do well in the downtimes and good times, and you know, whenever, so, yeah, I mean, I was I was still super busy. And then it’s kind of funny, because one of the clients that we represent now Gregory’s coffee, they, you know, they were shut down in Manhattan and most of their locations were, you know, downtown Manhattan. And he called me up and said, I want to do drive throughs. So it’s, it’s kind of interesting how some tenants were able to just, you know, turn around and see what they could figure out next during that time. So

Ressa 2:22
yeah, that is interesting. Yeah, have any of those got going yet?

Burnelli 2:26
I have one that’s about to get approved. Hopefully in Hazlet. I just got a lease signed and Manal up in route nine. We have a lease that in Princeton, but he opened his first drive thru in Paramus on route 17.

Ressa 2:42
Wow. Good market. So yeah. Very cool. All right. I want to take us to everyone to get to know Danielle a little bit more. Take us to part of the show. I call clear the air. I’ve got three fun questions for you. Are you ready?

Sure. All right. Question one. What is one skill you don’t possess but wish you did?

Burnelli 3:07
So I mean, I possess like every skill there is possible. So I asked my daughter I was like Ella, what skill do I possess? She’s like, well, you’re really bad at math. Apparently, I can’t do like elementary school math because my daughter like last year, especially during COVID I was that was tough. Like I had to help my kids with like, you know, homework, and I ended up getting my kid like a D

Ressa 3:46
That’s amazing. Elementary School. Stuff for the best answer. That’s amazing. Okay. Question two. When is the last time you did something for the first time?

Burnelli 4:04
So I actually went to dinner yesterday. It’s a BJs. brewhouse restaurant. That was the first time I tried that. It was like, Oh, this is a good, good answer. I like trying new restaurants, especially if they’re new to the market. So I was in.

Ressa 4:19
Yeah. Last question. What is one thing most people agree with, but you do not.

Burnelli 4:27
Um, so I guess going back to like school, you know, I have 10 year old twins. My son is like this little Brainiac kid, but he doesn’t really do anything to get like, you know, his A’s. Whereas my daughter is, you know, she really has to work hard. She reminds me of me, but she’ll get a C once in a while. So I think to me, like, you know, grades in school doesn’t really mean much. It’s just about like, how hard you work and really the effort that you put towards things. Um, Just, you know, school wise, I was never good at school. Obviously, I can’t do math. But everything else like I, you know, I try my best. And that’s, I think that’s more now.

Ressa 5:11
Yeah, that the we put

Burnelli 5:17
to ethnic T scores was like ridiculous. I was just like

Ressa 5:21
that. Yeah. So we put so much emphasis on, on education and, and in America. Yeah. Right now. So I have a I have a daughter who’s going to be five and a three year old son. And the biggest thing that we’ve been we were talking about all winter was like, is she going to kindergarten this year? Or are we going to wait another year before to start kindergarten? And, you know, and you sit back and think about everything that’s going on and like the fight over? You know, I hear about fights about people trying to get into the right preschool. And I’m like, let’s take a step back here. Like, you know, everything. There’s nothing that you if you, um, pro learning on the all Yeah,

Burnelli 6:17
of course, kids need to be I think kids need to be pushed. They still need to be pushed, right. But because it’s going back to that, like I sent my kids to Montessori School. I don’t know. I just heard good things about it. We’re like, oh, Montessori. So it was funny because my my son really advanced in Montessori. But that’s because again, like he he catches on to things really quickly. But at Montessori, they only push you if you they think you’re ready. So my daughter was like, she never wanted to, like move on to the next step. Because she was just like, in her comfort zone. And so they didn’t ever push her. So she ended up like just scrubbing chairs for years in Frisco like what is going on? Right. But I don’t know.

Ressa 7:00
Yeah, I think what’s interesting now is, you know, as you said, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the generation that’s that was isolated and sat home doing COVID. What will be the long term impacts of their education in the future? I think it’ll be it’ll be interesting. I keep saying there’s nothing that you can learn in school that you can’t go from, from a book that you can’t go on and find the answer. Right. You know, I think the social interaction and you know, getting those emotional intelligence and understanding what happens in life is just as important in the school setting. And we don’t keep scores and test on that. And it’s probably just as valuable of a skill as the math that your daughter was doing that you don’t have to do today to be successful. Right. So anyway, thank you for playing that game with me. I appreciate it. It was fun, great answers. So what I want to move to next is, I want to see if you have a story for us about a deal or a store that you were a part of opening and what that was liking. Sure. Where are we going, Danielle?

Burnelli 8:26
Oh, so again, going back to Dollar Tree. I’ve done about $150 tree Dollar Tree Family Dollar deals, but one that’s really special to me. It opened pretty pretty recently, I guess a year or so ago. And that’s because I would town real quick what’s happening? Flemington, New Jersey and South Jersey? Which? Clemente

Ressa 8:51
Clementon is that Cumberland? County?

Burnelli 8:57
It’s by Berlin.

Ressa 9:00
But Philly on the southwest side. Yes.

Burnelli 9:02
Yep. Yep. Yep. So, um, I knew it was like a kind of a, an area that they could fill. And there was a vacant property at a corner at a light but it was a bank basically was was selling it. So you know, it was bigger, big enough to hold more than $1 tree. But anyway, I had an idea of what could be there. So my boyfriend actually, he got the property under contract. And then I literally we drew a site plan. We hired an engineer to create a real plan. I got $1 tree deal approved in committee. And then we you know, we had a perform of you know, how much it requests of you know, so of course NorQuest, etc. And then we were able to like, basically sell the pro Former to a developer. So he flipped the contracts and made a commission and developments there today. So that’s pretty cool.

Ressa 10:08
Very, very cool. A lot. A lot to that. So you was the first you knew that Dollar Tree wanted to be there. So was the first step that you did? Was it put the property under contract? Yes. So you tied it up? How long did you have to like do this because that’s always the it’s the contracts only as good as as long as you have to try to be able to.

Burnelli 10:36
I mean, we had a pretty good, we had a good amount of time, it was like 18 to 24 months or something like that, for us to get all the approvals. Yeah, that’s

Ressa 10:44
great. And so you have 18 to 24 months. And the, you know, the bank, historically, they paid like high rents, I don’t know the market well, in Clementon. But was it a, a tough negotiation with the seller? Or was it pretty commercial?

Burnelli 11:10
It was pretty, I mean, it was yeah, it was basically a property that was about to be foreclosed on. So the bank just wanted to sell, you know, get it off of their books.

Ressa 11:18
Oh, amazing. Yeah, good opportunity. Yeah, it

Burnelli 11:21
was really, it was really cool opportunity. And, you know, getting Dollar Tree to approve it with my next step, you know, making sure I had a deal that I can get done, and I have a lease. So we didn’t know if we were going to be able to develop it ourselves. But you know, we just didn’t have that kind of money to build it. So. But what if we flipped the contract to a developer? And,

Ressa 11:43
and so you show your and flipping a contract, meaning she didn’t have to close on the property? Right? So I was just gonna say,

Burnelli 11:51
sign the contract, and they knew how much it was, you know, we paid for it. You know, there was so

Ressa 11:59
yeah, so that is, that is interesting, because, and that’s where I was going next. Which is, it’s a really clever way to make a deal happen. Because you, you obviously, you got to put it under contract, then you get the deal done with dollars. So you got to get a lease done with Dollar Tree, and you’re representing them for years. Now. You’re their landlord in this scenario, but you’re not, you’re may not be the intent of it long term. So you get a lease. And you’re not out of pocket a ton of money because you haven’t bought the property yet. You might have had to make a deposit and you paid for plans and engineering and going through the approvals. The flip of the contract. Here’s one of the pieces. Oftentimes, when you deliver that contract, you might have to deliver approvals. Did you have to get the approvals, or did the developer

Burnelli 12:55
developer got all the approvals? Wow.

Ressa 12:57
And so they paid you were fee for the contract? And whether they closed on the property or not? They had the contract, correct?

Burnelli 13:07
Yeah, it was like, I guess it was like an assignment of a contract. Yeah, it was pretty cool. My father obviously helped us orchestrate the whole thing. But I learned a lot from doing Yeah.

Ressa 13:21
Yeah, that is really, really cool. And the what made you go about it that way? I guess why did you just you saw this opportunity. When did you decide like, I’m gonna have to put this under contract to make $1 tree happy.

Burnelli 13:41
I mean, I knew it was the perfect location for them. I toured the site with them in the past. And I,

Ressa 13:48
but I guess my question is more like, why not get a developer in the beginning and bring them in? Versus which right all the time you’re dealing with landlords, developers and tenants all the time? And you’re the intermediary? Why go the route where you’re now? You’re going a little step further than you might?

Burnelli 14:07
Yeah, well, obviously, my, my, my, my, my boyfriend, who owns a real estate company himself. We get we didn’t know if we were going to develop it ourselves. So we, you know, we did end up you know, we thought maybe we could do that, but and we were you know, we were trying to maybe do a JV with somebody, we didn’t know what we were gonna do. I was just like, we don’t need me to control this property.

Ressa 14:30
Got it. Yeah. That means,

Burnelli 14:33
you know, our first initial step and controlling the properties, making sure we got it under contract.

Ressa 14:37
Yeah. And I think for those out there who might invest in other asset classes, I think that’s one of the big things which is like people are afraid to maybe make an offer on something or takes up because they they’re like, Oh, it’s a million dollars. But the first step is really just need to get it under your control. You’re not at That’s a million dollars, just Yes.

Burnelli 15:02
I’m not like, I’m not in the business of doing that I’ve never, you know, we’re not developers, you know, whereas my, my boyfriend is IE, Michael to George, he, I don’t know, it’s just comes natural to him, like, you know, like, I need to focus on one thing getting things least pretty much. Um, whereas he could focus on that because aspects. So it was it was really neat to work with him on something like that. Where we could both kind of like, you know, work on separate things and get it done together. Yeah.

Ressa 15:35
What a good story. The Is it open now? Did you say?

Burnelli 15:41
Yeah, Dow cheese open. It took a picture there a couple of weeks ago. It was really cool.

Ressa 15:45
That’s really cool. Congratulations. Yeah. And that is how they ended up in clubbington. Because Danielle went gangbusters and put it under cards. Really cool. And so in, appreciate the story. We talked about earlier. What you’ve been, what the pandemic was like, and now, you know, at least from my perspective, I don’t know if you share the same, it’s total whirlwind because then the March of 2020. I was like, going, what’s going to happen to this industry? I have no idea what’s going to happen. And today, it’s feels like activities. People want to be in stores, retailers need them to profit. And it feels like notwithstanding macro economic headwinds, whether it’s interest rates, inflation, retails, you know, really feel strong. How are you seeing it from your let’s

Burnelli 16:51
um, I agree with you. I mean, I know that there’s some stores out there like the gap for instance, where you know, most of our sales are being done online and you know, people really just doing returns and everything. But you know, as when it comes to like supermarkets, discounters, you know, flooring stores, home decorating, they’re still going super strong. And the restaurant drive through the whole drive thru categories, like, you know, just on fire.

Ressa 17:26
That’s crazy. Everyone wants to drive there. Yeah.

Burnelli 17:29
So it’s kind of interesting. Like, we’re we’re taking a look at every single gas station today, because they seem to be mostly all available, like the smaller ones. And like Getty, for example. PMG, they basically have become real estate companies could take back properties and then redevelop them. But there’s, I mean, the others just, there’s really not many vacancies when you think about it. And then when there is a vacancy, they’re getting filled up. That’s that’s

Ressa 18:00
what’s crazy, right? Because, you know, we read headline news in March of 2020. Like, every store in America was going to close. And now there’s no availability for space.

Burnelli 18:11
Yep. So there hasn’t been much new construction either. So exactly. You know, there’s maybe, you know, there’s one large shopping center being built here in Old Bridge, you know, a new shop, right TARGET Center, but we haven’t seen new construction forever.

Ressa 18:24
Yeah, I saw a federal federal is doing that. I’m not federal reasons. He didn’t say yes, he’s doing that. Yeah.

Burnelli 18:32
Yeah, that’s, that’s gonna be an interesting one, for sure. Here, we’re seeing the same I, it’s so crazy how

Ressa 18:42
how fast things move. And, and that’s why, you know, I’m always like, kind of got looking over my shoulder a bit because the market shifted from, you know, overnight, the market like collapsed, right, we had a pandemic, we were sheltering in place, then pretty quickly, we came out of it and the everyone was running and gunning. And it you know, it can turn back and forth pretty quickly. I think the good news is today is that we’re so much more well occupied than we were before the pandemic. And I would argue that it’s a much stronger tenant base, because a lot of the weaker ones were weeded out in the pandemic, right. So I think whatever happens next is just like oh, is probably going to be interesting. So yeah, so And by the way,

Burnelli 19:44
it’d be interesting to see what happens when we have a lot of these Amazon supermarkets that are about to open in our area. So it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when they open what happens to some of the other local supermarkets so we don’t have too many local supermarkets. I know shop right supposed to be like you You know, they’re supposed to gear up with their new, I think, carts a similar kind of system as Amazon. I don’t know, we’ll see. There’s gonna be a lot of market competition.

Ressa 20:15
Well, there’s some interest. There’s some interesting. There’s a lot of interesting tech that I think could happen in a supermarket. I’ve been waiting, because I heard this was happening. I’ve been waiting for the until me if you would like this, I’ve been waiting for a little bit more smart technology in the home with the store. So imagine this, imagine you’re driving home and you talk to Siri and you go to your shop right app and the shop right app says something or the Amazon App or the Lidl or Aldi or whatever it says it says in your fridge. You have these three items. If you go to the nearest shop, right or to the nearest Stop and Shop, which is here and you pick up these four items, here’s six reps recipes you can make tonight. If we had that technology in the fridge, the smart fridges I think there’s interesting things to come. I think you know, that would be pretty fascinating. So

Burnelli 21:23
I heard that I heard that Walmart is either has it or it’s coming out with like an app where like it’s a virtual WalMart where you’re walking through Walmart and then like, you’re not in the store, but you’re in the metaverse, you the shelves, you pick out what you want, and then it gets delivered to you. Really, it’s like 3d printers.

Ressa 21:45
I didn’t see that. That’s interesting. Yeah, that’s interesting. So I’ve been playing around with that, because not that app, but the the metaverse stuff because I have I toured some virtual offices. So people had offices where like, employees are remote, but they’re operating and navigating in a virtual office. So like, you have an avatar. I make myself like some Harry Potter avatar, as you said, and I look like Perry, Harry Potter, and I go to like the break room in the office. And I say, Hey, how’s it going? And I get my fake cup of coffee. And they’re like, Oh, I’m going to a meeting over here. I’m like, I stopped by over here when we’re done. But it’s all through. It’s like you’re in the office, but you’re not physically there.

Burnelli 22:37
That’s crazy. Yeah. Where we I bet you our kids are definitely going to be into stuff like you know, they all have my son has the Oculus, I guess. Right and it’s just it’s it virtual reality and it’s amazing.

Ressa 22:56
How old your kids 1010 10 Yeah,

Burnelli 22:59
yeah, it’s so it’s so funny. They 10 years old. And like, you know, again, I try to help them with homework. I’m like x Oh my god, let’s print this out. So we could study he’s like print. He’s like, we’re just kind of split screen all right, like I they’re just like, they know so much more than us. Like computer wise. It’s hysterical.

Ressa 23:24
print this out. Like

Burnelli 23:25
they do better. Google they do better. Like, oh, it’s a quad. They just do better presentations that I mean, professional stuff. It’s amazing.

Ressa 23:37
And you have twins. Yeah. My wife has an identical twin.

Burnelli 23:41
Okay, yeah. I got boy boy girl twins.

Ressa 23:44
Are they are they’re at each other’s throats. Are they super tight?

Burnelli 23:49
Half and half. They’re not there. They’re just they you know, this stand by one another but they’re not like I don’t know. My daughter’s a lovey dovey my son’s like.

Ressa 24:01
Fair enough. Okay, I want to take us to the last pro show. I call this retail wisdom. Wisdom. I got three questions. Are you ready? All right. Question one. What extinct retailer Do you wish would come back from the dead? Toys R Us? I love Toys R Us. Yeah. All right. Question two. What is the last item over $20 You bought in a store? staining. Question Three last question. If you and I were shopping at Target, and I lost you what I do what I find you in

Burnelli 24:37
and the home accessories aisle. I’m very into home fashion.

Ressa 24:44
Well, Danielle, this has been great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Good luck and we’ll probably see you in Las Vegas.

Burnelli 24:53
Definitely. Thank you so much.

Ressa 24:57
Thank you for listening to retail retail. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show, please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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