The Real Deal New York

Kalashnikovs and supercars: How dealmakers handle the stress of ICSC

Brokers talk to TRD about coping with Vegas

May 25, 2016 12:25PM
By Adam Pincus

From left: David Firestein of SCG Retail, with his target from AK-47 shots at a gun range and James Wacht of Lee & Associates NYC, climbing rocks

From left: David Firestein of SCG Retail, with his target from AK-47 shots at a gun range and James Wacht of Lee & Associates NYC, climbing rocks

The whirlwind of meetings, emails and parties that fertilizes the soil in which deals take root at RECon Las Vegas is also, frankly, exhausting.

Even for hardy New Yorkers.

To cope with the unrelenting intensity of the annual International Council of Shopping Centers’ convention, many attendees have come up with ways to find nirvana in the desert.

The Real Deal surveyed New York dealmakers on their coping mechanisms. We found a wide range of activities, including mellow morning rituals as well as planned post-event vacations to look forward to. Others indulged in hiking, biking, fast cars and gun smoke.

David Firestein, a broker with SCG Retail, tried his hand for the first time at an assault rifle. The choice is full of paradoxes. There is the contrast between the man — low-key, gentlemanly with a serene public demeanor — and the AK-47, the weapon of choice for insurgencies worldwide. And then there is the fact that despite the rifle’s tremendous roar, Firestein described the experience as soothing.

“I found this relieved a lot of the convention stress,” he said.

Chris Okada of Okada & Company

Chris Okada of Okada & Company

Others headed to the race track. Cushman & Wakefield’s James Nelson arranged an outing that put brokers such at Christopher Okada, of Okada & Company, behind the wheel of supercars. Okada raced a Lamborghini Huracán (which retails for over $200,000) and described the experience as a “highlight” of ICSC. Another contingent that hit the track included Richard Nassimi of the Nassimi Group and Meridian Capital Group’s Jonathan Stern, who drove a Porsche 911 GT3 (retails at about $185,000).

(To see all ICSC RECon 2016 coverage, click here)

Soozan Baxter, a retail consultant, faithfully keeps a morning ritual. She wakes up before 6 a.m., reads the newspaper and trades like WWD and Business of Fashion, before heading to appointments.

Michael Lohan, Jonathan Stern, Ross Fox, Helen Hwang, Richard Nassimi and David Restainer

Michael Lohan, Jonathan Stern, Ross Fox, Helen Hwang, Richard Nassimi and David Restainer

“I also schedule a post-Las Vegas massage” back in New York, “which is always nice to look forward to,” she said.

Some look at the labyrinth of the Las Vegas Convention Center not as a nightmare distance to cross, but as a de-stressor.

“Walking is my tool,” said Colliers International’s Patrick Breslin. “Here in Vegas, the size of the venue is so large, and spread out what seems like miles, walking and dashing from one side of the floor to the other burns down the stress level.”

David Schechtman, who does investment sales at Meridian Capital Group, chose a hotel — the Mandarin Oriental — with no casino, to keep out a measure of noise and clutter. And he is also one of many who take to the hills.

“I also run at Red Rock at least once,” he said. James Wacht, of Lee & Associates NYC, even hired a rock climbing guide in the desert.

SCG’s Chase Welles ventured further out, driving nearly 160 miles up to Zion National Park, “for some hiking and biking before the show.”

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