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Written by: Andrew White

Andrew has held various leasing positions over the past 15 years. He originally spent over 6 years as Real Estate Representative for Clear Channel outdoor in Chicago IL, curating the real estate opportunities for their out of home advertising assets, before taking a role as Manager of a local luxury residential brokerage. After 4 years in that position, and a time with Groupon as Area Sales Manager for the Getaways division, in 2013 Andrew and his family moved back to Columbus where he joined The Gilbert Group as Senior Associate. Andrew has spent his time focused on Landlord and Tenant representation, that included both regional and national operators alike. Andrew joined Colliers in November 2020 as Vice President of Brokerage. Keep reading to get Andrew’s take on why we’re seeing an uptick in retail openings, compared to closures.

According to a recent article from CNBC, retailers are planning to open more stores than they are closing in 2021. Is this something you’ve been seeing in the Columbus market recently?

Yes. There’s probably a few reasons for that. What we saw last year is that in many cases, landlords made arrangements with their tenants that allowed them to continue operations. Couple that with the other programs like PPP, and it provided a way for many to mitigate their impact. For the spaces where tenants weren’t fortunate enough to make it, they more than likely closed in 2020. As we enter 2021, with the availabilities resurfacing and a string of new construction projects in the market, we are seeing a variety of retailers, both new as well as opportunistic, that want to get ahead of the recovery to secure sites that appropriately fit their needs.

What are some examples of retailers that you have heard aiming to open new locations in the area?

One of the more vocal announcements to hit Columbus is Sheetz. They continue to execute a very aggressive growth plan amongst highly desired real estate throughout the greater Columbus market. Midsize to big-box tenants include Burke’s, Ross Dress for Less & DFW Fashion Warehouse. We are also seeing a variety of national fast casual food users, including Bojangles, Torchy’s Tacos, Tropical Smoothie Café & Dave’s Hot Chicken.

Why do you think we’re starting to see this trend now, of all times?

There seems to be a common belief that the pandemic will soon be in our rearview. Retailers have likely had a chance to reevaluate their growth strategies, i.e. market conditions, store configuration, their operational processes, etc., and are now executing on them. In addition to the new store openings in 2021, we are also working with many retailers that are actively site seeking, but with the intentions to open in 2022.

Many people seem hesitant about the future of brick and mortar retail, especially post-COVID. Do you think these planned openings are a sign that retail is here to stay?

After what we’ve experienced over the last 14 months, I can certainly appreciate the hesitation but I do believe that’s temporary. Brick and mortar retail will always be an integral component for any community. There is no denying the impact of online for certain segments but the fortunate aspect of the retail sector is its ability to evolve as consumer behavior does.

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