Malcolm Gladwell

It looks like it is going to be a busy week at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon show. Attendance is above 30,000 again and is better than the last two years so far, reported Michael Kercheval, president of the organization.

Other good news for the industry: He said that fundamentals are getting better, most big chains have completed their store closures, and now we’re starting to see some chains ramp up their expansion plans.

Best-selling author and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, had more bright news for attendees. He said that in a world where are becoming increasingly isolated due to a reliance to technology for communication, meeting places like shopping centers are more important than ever. “You are more than in the real estate business,” he said. “You are in the business of meeting peoples’ needs.”

He used Apple stores as an example. No one needs to go to an Apple store to buy their products they sell. After all, they can get purchased online. But the reason that these stores are so wildly sucessful is because people like to go and interact with the products and the salespeople.

Gladwell acknowledged the challenges that the business faces, such as store closures, but said that retail real estate owners have many opportunities in front of them. “I know that this isn’t the best time in your history,” he said. “But you have something that the Internet can not provide. You can make a genuine connection with people.”