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Getting To Know Your Neighbor

Chris Ressa Headshot
Episode #: 191
Getting To Know Your Neighbor

Topics: networking, social connections, community


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.

Welcome to Retail Retold, everyone. I’m your host, Chris Ressa. Thank you for joining today’s episode.

Ressa 0:28
I call today’s episode, ‘Getting To Know Your Neighbor’. And what I really mean by that is growing your social network, not your network on social media, but your actual personal social network, getting involved in the community, and getting involved in things that are outside of your business professional life. I’ve spent a lot of time growing my business network.

And I had an event happen, which I’m going to tell you about that really struck me as wild, for lack of a better word, and made me start to think wow, how much growing your personal social network with having nothing to do with business might enhance your business life. So let’s dive in. A few years ago, my team was working on a lease with a solar salon franchisee. It was in a shopping center in Poughkeepsie, New York, which is about 90 minutes, a little less from where I live personally.

There were some things in the lease that both parties were struggling to come to consensus on, and my team had asked me to join a conference call. And the point of me getting on the conference call was to see if I could help close the deal up at the 11th hour. So I say sure. I get on the conference call. I’m a little early on the conference call. I get on and the only other person on the conference call is the franchisee, his name is Don. And I’m just starting conversation, and I don’t know much about Don, I don’t know much about the business.

The tenant, I was briefed on a couple of issues in the lease that the group was hoping I could speak to, the group being my team. So I say to Don, Don, where where’s your business located? And he says, we are, we office out of Fairfield New Jersey. I said oh Don, I live not too far from there, about 20-25 minutes in Kinnelon, New Jersey. Don, you know, kind of pauses for a second he goes I also live in Kinnelon New Jersey. I said no way. I said that I live in this development in Kinnelon called Smoke Rise.

Don says I live in Smoke Rise. I go, really, I start laughing, I go this is really interesting. And then Don, I sit down, I live on the crossway, then I tell him the number I live on, my actual address and he goes I live at such and such the crossway which happens to be two houses, two houses down from where I live. Turns out Don is a Panera, Taco Bell, and Sola Salon Franchisee, lives two houses down from where I live.

And I kind of fell back in my seat, it was like almost like the movies where you want to like open the window and like you’re on the phone and they’re on the phone next door. My neighborhood is a little spread out, so that didn’t happen. We ended up making a deal. And Don actually is in another shopping center of ours. Now, as well, we’ve made two deals with Don, my neighbor. And I’ve told this story a lot, because I was, I grew up about 45 minutes from where I live today in Kinnelon, a town called Byron.

And it was a small town. Growing up, I knew everyone in town, you go to the quick check in town, go in, grab a cup of coffee, you’re going to see many people you know. And then when my wife and I moved to Kinnelon, we didn’t have kids, I was busy with work. I didn’t really get involved in the community, the person across the street from me. And directly next door, I saw them outside, I had said hello. But we didn’t have kids yet. And we weren’t involved in a lot of the community activities.

And my wife and I, and this is about 2016, are just going about our days, we’re working on fixing our house, we are spending time with our family. And the friends we already have, which are in Kinnelon. So we’re doing a lot of things out of the catalogue. And I need to spend the time to really get to know the people in my neighborhood, and I loved where I lived. I still love where I live.

It’s on a mountain in the woods on a lake. I tell people all the time, in 45 minutes, I can be anywhere, New York City, my office, but in 10 minutes, I’m nowhere. Anyway, we didn’t spend a lot of time going to any of the local community events on the weekend. You know, on the weekends, we would go out of Kinnelon and see people or maybe travel, I might have friends or family out of Kinnelon because I didn’t know anyone, come to my home and we might have a dinner party or something like that.

Ressa 7:29
But after the phone call with Don and signing a lease with Don, putting a neighbor in one of the shopping center suite. It dawned on me like, wow, how much of an opportunity people, myself included, might be missing by not even getting to know their neighbors. Now obviously, this is super coincidental and more so super lucky. But it does prove the point of my story, which is, there are opportunities. We hear about these all the time, whether it’s at the golf club, whether it’s at community events and getting involved.

That might lead to business opportunities you never thought of, getting to know your neighbor just might lead to two Sola Salon deals. So that’s the lesson for today. Get to know your neighbors, get involved in your local communities, whether that is through church, whether that’s through youth sports, whether that is local events.

If you’re only spending your time on the traditional or amusing air quotes, business networking events, you’re probably leaving a lot on the table. Had I not got on that call and been asked, my team wouldn’t have even known this person was my neighbor. So get out there. Get to know your, get to know your neighbor. Thanks for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed the show.

Thank you for listening to Retail Retold. 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 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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