Homework Trumps Gut Instinct in Retail Brokering

When Donald G. Fisher, the founder of the Gap clothing chain, began expanding in Manhattan in the 1990s, “he would stand in front of a space, see how many people walked by, and say, ‘Hey, this looks like a good spot,’ ” said Robert K. Futterman, the founder of the retail brokerage RKF, who represented the company in some leases.

The retail leasing business has come a long way since then. Companies like the Gap pore over maps detailing subway access and foot traffic, as well as wealth profiles of nearby residents and sales figures for neighboring stores before agreeing to move to a new location.

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