Fall 2023 | Article 03/04

When your customers are your neighbors

Every major retail operator gets their start somewhere. Signing that first lease involves a leap of faith, a carefully calculated plan and, for some lucky retailers a little help along the way.
When evaluating the suitability of a tenant at a given property, retail broker Yansy Naranjo first considers some of the basic qualifications that all good brokers review in their assessments — creditworthiness and capital — but then she delves a layer deeper, familiarizing herself with their business plan, and taking her advisory role a step further to ensure the long-term success of a tenant. As a native Angeleno and senior retail associate in Avison Young’s Los Angeles region, Yansy reflects on the fact that many first-time operators have a deep understanding of the community they’re serving. They’ve often grown up in the area, patronized the surrounding locales, and have a clear picture of what is in demand. After all, their customers are also their neighbors.

Small business, big impact

Small businesses help their local economies and serve their communities. They propel innovation, having accounted for 44% of U.S. economic activity and about 63% of net new job creation since 1995, they even donate 250% more than large businesses to local nonprofits and causes. Yet some small businesses still face barriers when it comes to cash flow, awareness, staffing and competition. While a more established operator may appear to be a ‘safer’ choice, Yansy’s unique mentoring approach has proven that smaller, newer retailers can be just as successful. Alongside partners Chris Maling and David Maling, she’s been responsible for many local leasing successes.

"Part of my personal philosophy is to ‘talk less, listen more’. This opens the door for deeper understanding of what the neighborhood needs and ultimately creates more long-term success for owners and occupiers."

- Yansy Naranjo, Senior Associate, Retail

With a full roster of tenants in place, owners can proceed to work with the team at Avison Young to facilitate a successful property sale. For one project in the city of Gardena where Yansy represented the landlord, she filled three vacant spaces with first-time operators. 

One of these entrepreneurs is Sade Miller who owns Sade Styles, a beauty supply and braid lounge that offers a full menu of braiding services as well as a school dedicated to teaching the next generation of braiders how to perfect their skills and build their own businesses. Since opening 3 years ago, Sade’s business has seen outstanding growth despite opening during the pandemic. She has even opened another business, Styles + Company Salon Suites, in Lawndale and even published a book about her story called “New Growth.” Sade Styles regularly hosts events that bring the community together to discuss the intersection of wellness and prosperity.

"Being in this space to me was more than just having a business, it has been a much-needed experience. I was able to take a chance on myself. I’ve grown so much as not only a woman, but a businesswoman, so much that I have been able to scale and expand my business, and it feels more real to do so because I took this initial leap of faith.”

- Sade Miller, Owner, Sade Styles

The next lease Yansy signed to the property was Kutz Kickz, a barbershop led by Joel Clayton, a member of the community who had 25 years of clientele at his (literal) fingertips. By bringing his decades-long customers to visit the shopping center, his business not only complemented existing tenants but created yet another space for transformation.

Continuing the momentum

After the Gardena shopping center property was sold, the new owners continued working with Avison Young to facilitate leases as space becomes available. The property’s newest tenant, RSL Herbal Emporium, opened in June of 2023 with a mission to help the community become healthy for a Reason, Season, and Lifetime (RSL). The tea store was founded by DeAnn Poe, a local resident who, after living in Gardena for more than 10 years, recognized a need to provide natural, healthy options for people in the community. DeeAnn wanted to place her business in a location that would be convenient for her neighbors and surrounding communities. As a family-run shop, DeAnn’s two adult children also help run the business, which prides itself on providing quality products in a warm, friendly, caring and peaceful environment for all.

Down the road in Bellflower, Avison Young was hired to lease and position a retail property for sale. In a similar fashion, Yansy signed leases with first-time operators Gigi’s Lash and Beauty Bar, Healthy Acupuncture, and Smoke N Smoke, in addition to mission-driven quick service restaurant, Everytable. Another happy property owner was able to successfully sell and the new owners have kept Yansy’s team on as the leasing brokers. Nearly three years later, all of these tenants are still thriving.

Yansy’s personal philosophy includes the phrase “talk less, listen more.“ This approach has helped her become not only an excellent transaction specialist but a true consultant for independent businesses and entrepreneurs. She guides aspiring tenants to bolster their business plans with strategic actions that will set them up for success as occupiers.  Successful tenants lead to vibrant, high-performing shopping centers — a benefit that property owners have relied on to increase value and effectively sell.

Article contributors

Like what you're reading? Be the first to get our next issue.

Read more Viewpoints articles