On building Polaris, his history in shopping and Father's Day
Polaris Fashion Place is probably the biggest development project for which the local Glimcher family is known. Self-made developer Herb Glimcher, based in Bexley, decided to build the shopping mall in 2000 and his son, Michael, was part of it all from the start.
Polaris and Indian Mound Mall in Newark were part of Glimcher Realty Trust, which was purchased in 2015 by what is now called the Washington Prime Group, Inc. Michael Glimcher stepped down as Washington Prime Group's CEO in 2016 and, after fulfilling a year-long noncompete promise, last fall he became CEO of Starwood Retail Partners, which is focused on modernizing its malls that are scattered across the country.
Today Glimcher is still based in Central Ohio. He travels widely for his work and sits on several national and local boards.
Let's talk about your history with shopping malls. You were in your late 20s and early 30s during the time that your father decided to launch Polaris Fashion Place. Did you help your father design that mall? I grew up around the business. There were always department store executives coming home with my dad and joining us at the dinner table. From a young age, I remember attending shopping center openings and being around the business. As far as Polaris, building that center was one of the greatest experiences in my business career in that I was able to work together with my dad on something special for our home market. We spent a tremendous amount of time together around that project and it's something I'll never forget.
I've always wondered about this. How did you convince Saks to locate at Polaris? Demographics and relationships. The demographics and the central location of Polaris were really the driving factors of why Saks chose the location—being
in the middle of the wealth in Central Ohio. Additionally, the then-CEO of Saks, Brad Martin, is a very close friend of mine and my dad's.
Historically, how did being in retail affect your personal style? I spent a lot of my life around malls and seeing stores. I suppose growing up this way made me always interested in fashion. My dad has always been interested in fashion, which helped spark my interest.
In an article in TheColumbus Dispatch last fall, you mentioned that a mall's target customer is a woman. Why is that? Do women have a record of just spending more than men? It's simple; women just tend to shop and buy more than men. I don't know why that is, it's just always been that way.
With your knowledge of style and fashion, what advice would you give to other men this summer? Keep it simple. I like to wear a lot of blue and white in the summer and not many patterns. It's not about making a statement, it's about being elegantly understated.
After selling Glimcher Realty Trust, your family-owned company, more than a year ago, you had a noncompete agreement with the new owners. What kept you busy for that year? Did you shop much? I kept busy with running, yoga and white space. It was really special, in the middle of my career, to have some time to clear my head and think about things other than retail. And, of course I shopped a lot!
You have a busy travel schedule. Do you still regularly visit malls in 16 different states, as well as Starwood's offices in Chicago and Connecticut? What tips and tricks can you give us about keeping a fresh style with all of your business travel? Yes, I do regularly visit our centers across the country. I also spend a lot of time in Chicago where Starwood Retail Partners is headquartered. I occasionally visit our parent company, Starwood Capital Group, headquartered in Greenwich, Conn. I always carry on luggage when traveling for business and I pack a flexible wardrobe. I generally have a solid suit, a pair of jeans, several shirts and, of course, work out gear.
Back when your family owned Indian Mound Mall, is there anything you'd like to tell us about all those drives out to Newark? I made that drive many, many times and it amazes me how Columbus has grown to the east over the years. As the population has filled it, it almost feels like Newark is a suburb of Columbus.
Several years ago, you told me during an interview at your home that you had used your mother's interior designer. Now, about 20 years later, how has that decision influenced your own home style even today? My mom has always had impeccable style: simple and understated. I'd like to think that I inherited some of her great tastes.
Finally, what would you like your kids to get you for Father's Day? With one in high school, one in college and one just graduated, I'd like nothing more than to be around the same table with them sharing a meal—and also some hugs!