NORWALK, Conn. — The SoNo Collection held a kickoff for its holiday merriment Friday evening. About 100 visitors paused their shopping to hear brief statements from Mayor Harry Rilling, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, former State Representative and House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, State Rep. Travis Simms, and SoNo Collection Senior General Manager Matt Seebeck. After the ceremony NancyOnNorwalk caught up with Seebeck for a brief Q and A:
NancyOnNorwalk: You grew up in Norwalk. How does it feel to take charge of something that will so strongly affect your hometown?
Matt Seebeck: For me, there’s no greater honor because it means I’m giving back to the community that gave a lot to me as I grew up, and it’s very humbling to go out there and really try to provide a great experience for the community at large.
NON: What were the circumstances surrounding Brookfield choosing this particular location?
MS: We knew that both Bloomingdales and Nordstrom were looking for an opportunity in southwestern Connecticut. They had locations in Westchester and way up in Hartford where folks from our area had been going to shop. This parcel of land in Norwalk was the ideal spot to bring these two stores to the Southwestern Connecticut market.
NON: Do your retail tenants have their own design and building crews working within their individual spaces apart from Brookfield’s workers?
MS: All the tenants bring in all kinds of contractors, architects, and designers, adding more and more jobs. And Brookfield has a fantastic team of coordinators to oversee and assist tenants in building the stores.
NON: What access do you have to the individual stores’ sales figures and customer data?
MS: We have great retailer partnerships, and we may have conversations where we develop positive relationships with our retailers in much the same we as we develop relationships with our guests.
NON: You were an Army Reservist. Has that experience been applicable to your position here?
MS: The military gave me lots of responsibility, working with many small and medium size groups. Now that Brookfield Properties has entrusted me and my team with a great amount of responsibility, my military service has helped me to have sufficient gusto to ensure great team interaction.
NON: What prediction would you make as to the future of retail in the U.S.?
MS: It’s all about how we evolve with the way that our customer shops. We’ve designed our shopping center to be sufficiently flexible to change with the way that our community changes. As with our brand new SoNo marketplace, which is a seasonal pop-up giving local businesses a great opportunity to share their wares with the public, we’re poised to follow the way that our customer changes.
NON: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
MS: I’d probably be on vacation! Just kidding. I’m really just proud and happy to be creating an amazing new development, a first-class experience offering all different activities in what I consider to be my hometown.
Celebrating the holidays
Before the Q&A, The SoNo Collection celebrated its holiday spirit, described in a press release as:
Whispering Wishes Grove
- “Located in Bloomingdale’s court, the Whispering Wishes Grove invites guests to stroll through an interactive holiday soundscape and whisper your wishes into the trees. As your wishes are spoken into the branches, the forest responds with sound.”
Holiday Bells Grove
- “Stationed in the Magnificent Room is the Holiday Bells Grove. A motion-tracking system allows for your movements to ring bells and illuminate lights as your stand and play under the Holiday Bell.”