When I sat down in my cubicle at the ICSC office to write my first story about retail real estate, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was curious about the economy and wanted to learn to write about business. But, truth be told, I'd never been a big fan of shopping centers, despite growing up in northern New Jersey, land of the mall.

I didn't know what REITs were; had never heard of cap rates; and the complex interplay between landlords and tenants was a deep mystery.

But a funny thing happened. I got hooked.

I spent hours explaining to friends and family — anyone who would listen — about how real estate takes up its own special place in the business world. As REITs took off in the past few years, assumed a bigger role in personal portfolios and became a force in the S&P 500, the conversations became easier. The episode of The Sopranos in which Carmella hints to Tony that the family should be buying REIT stock — I regard that as a cultural landmark.

After my stint at Shopping Centers Today I took a break from retail and broadened my knowledge of the wider real estate industry at Commercial Property News. I learned about the debt side of the business, figured out how CMBS work and got a grounding in net lease financing, 1031 exchanges and other tools of the financing trade.

Then one day I got a call. There was an opening for a managing editor at Retail Traffic. I was familiar with the publication, of course, from my days at Shopping Centers Today when we'd monitor the competition. But the issues from 2004 that I looked at were not at all what I remembered. I fell in love with the magazine's new look and the sharp bite of the feature stories. The improvement in the publication is a testament to Beth Karlin's talents, the guidance of Editorial Director Geoff Lewis and the faith that Warren Bimblick, our publisher, has in the editorial staff.

Beth hired me and we quickly clicked. Most important, we shared a vision of Retail Traffic as serious business journalism. We serve our readers by taking an uncompromising look at the industry and calling a spade, a spade. We celebrate successes and try to figure out what can be learned from failures. We like to show both the opportunities and challenges and prefer not to dwell on the conventional wisdom that our readers already know.

It is a fitting tribute to Beth's vision and hard work that this issue is the biggest and best since the transformation of Retail Traffic three years ago. I'm proud of my part in making Beth's vision a reality and I thank her for her generosity as a boss and editor. It has helped put me in position to take the reins of this magazine.

Retail Traffic will continue to evolve. You can look forward to refinements in the design and an expanding range of coverage. Watch, too, for more content and additional features on our magazine's Web site, www.retailtrafficmag.com.

Expect more stories about the debt side of the business, and more analysis of investment trends from single-tenant net lease deals to mega-mergers. We also will remain the top source for analyzing how mixed-use development and other trends are shaping the retail real estate industry. Finally, I look forward to hearing from you. If you have a chance, swing by our booth at the ICSC Spring Convention (Trade Mall Booth 319). Or drop me a line at dbodamer@retailtrafficmag.com.

Your comments and ideas are always welcome.

Best regards,

David Bodamer
Editor-in-Chief
Retail Traffic Magazine