Jim Bieri

President and CEO, Bieri Co., Detroit

DB: Where are you?

JB: In Denver. I’m visiting a potential retail tenant headquartered in New Jersey that has a site in Williamsburg. It’s called Sunflower Farmers Market, and they do quite well in Denver. It’s a beautiful store.

DB: As a retail expert for more than 30 years, how has your business reacted to the economic downturn?

JB: We were so busy the last few years that I was traveling once a month. But now it seems I’m traveling every week to lease retail spaces around the country. What I like about Sunflower is that the team from Wild Oats, which sold out to Whole Foods a while back, started them. Sunflower really meets the upward buying trend for fresh and organic foods.

DB: What other retail trends are you seeing?

JB: If you want to stay busy, you go where the action is. So we’re focusing on cities and communities that are experiencing growth. Wal-Mart and Meijer are doing well, and among the smaller stores, we’re seeing growth at kids stores and toy stores. And for the ladies, you’re seeing good growth at Forever 21, H&M, and Zara.

DB: When do you see the retail market recovering?

JB: Credit is tight right now for everyone, including developers and retailers. It could be another year or so before we start seeing some positive growth. The consumer drives about 70 percent of our economy, so hopefully the new administration in Washington can get things moving again. And while some of the department stores have seen slower sales, there are developers out there making money.

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