Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Attending ICSC – and Living to Tell About It

Some 52,000 retailers and shopping center developers attended the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Spring Convention last week (May 20-23, in Las Vegas)—and I think I had at least a passing conversation with a third of them (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it seemed like it).

True, we chatted quickly about the latest mixed-use developments (the format that was all the talk at the show), but the subject that came up in every conversation? Feet. And undeniable pain.

With square footage tacked on to already huge distances to cover, this year’s show was almost not doable. The new South Hall was easily a 10-minute hike—without crowds (and it was never without crowds)—and its location forced attendees out into the hot Las Vegas winds to boot, where already blistering feet added swelling to the list of torments. Even men were talking about their feet. We—men and women—compared shoes on the elevators, unabashedly rubbed our feet during meetings, winked at each other as we quick-changed from business shoes to running shoes behind leafy aisle plants.

In fact, it was a man who gave me the most memorable foot-remedy advice. He suggested—and this was amongst a large group of professionals at a Developers Diversified soiree—that we all try an age-old British foot massage. It requires placing one foot in a CLEAN hotel toilet (in the privacy of your room, of course; he wasn’t suggesting public bathrooms), and flushing for a soothing foot massage. Follow with the other foot.

I’m not telling whether I tried it or not. But, as the show progressed into day two, and my feet continued to swell and blister, the remedy sounded less and less revolting.

— Katherine Field

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