Students on the Miller Center NYC Retail Tour visit Tiffany & Co.
Students on the Miller Center NYC Retail Tour visit Tiffany & Co.

Warrington students network with, learn from retail executives in the Big Apple

As part of the David F. Miller Retail Center’s annual trip to New York City, marketing student Kalika Shelar reflects on the trip to a major hub of the retail industry.

Kalika Shelar

By Kalika Shelar (BSBA ’19)

After a long night of car horns and other obscure street noises one will hear while staying in Midtown Manhattan, we began the Miller Retail Center’s annual New York City Retail Tour. Our schedule for the week was jam-packed, meeting with executives at companies like Sam Edelman, Tiffany, JCPenney, Lilly Pulitzer and more. I was eager to begin exploring and learning.

The first thing I loved about the city was that we were able to walk everywhere. We walked from each meeting and tour to the next. On the first day, thanks to the Retail Center’s close relationship with Walgreens, we had the privilege of going to the roof of its store in Times Square and seeing the magnificent New Year’s Eve Ball up close and in person. Our group then had the incredible opportunity to follow Samantha Tella around the area from one Broadway theater to the next learning about the history, current shows and even how to find cheap tickets! Many of the students on this trip utilized her secrets to go see multiple Broadway shows throughout the rest of the week. We also met with Ross Dress for Less at its corporate office in Manhattan and market research company the NPD Group.

On our second day, we went to shoe retailer Sam Edelman’s showroom. As soon as we walked out of the elevator, immediately, our entire group was in awe. The office had a feeling of home with a dose of professionalism. The office had been decorated to reflect Libby Edelman’s recent trip to Iceland, and it was stunning. Libby was so kind to host us and give us a tour of the office followed by a wonderful presentation of the design process they go through for each shoe! From there we headed to lingerie company Lively’s office. This brand is a three-year-old start-up, so the executives explained to us how one could easily gain 5-10 years of experience within three years because you have to learn the full extent of what it takes to run a company when dealing with a new brand.

Our third day started off incredibly and got even better as it went on. We met with Felipe Ortiz, the Director of Loss Prevention at Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue. Here we were treated to the most amazing tour, which included us getting to try on a diamond ring that costs as much as a house and chocolate cake covered in Tiffany Blue icing! Walking away with huge smiles on each of our faces, we made our way to our tour of the High Line and lunch at Chelsea Market. We then had an incredible tour of JCPenney. The department store sponsored our NYC Retail Tour by offering each of the students on the trip a $200 scholarship. We were all so thankful to the company and expressed our gratitude to Joe Cardamone, the general manager, during this tour of the store in the Manhattan Mall. From there we walked over to Dave & Busters in Times Square where the CFO, a University of Florida alumnus Joe DeProspero, hosted us for a lovely dinner and game night! That Wednesday night it was definitely great to be a Florida Gator!

The fourth day was our day to explore the city. We took a self-guided tour of Macy’s, which is huge! Many of us went to SoHo to check out the shopping there and then headed to the Upper East Side to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the fifth night, I had learned how to sleep through the noises of the city and was treated to an incredible final day. We started at Lilly Pulitzer where we met the store manager, Katie, and Mary Lane, a UF alumna. We had a wonderful store tour and learned more about Lilly Pulitzer’s background and how the business came to be what it is today. We then walked through Central Park, which was covered in a beautiful blanket of snow, to a restaurant called Patsy’s, where Mary Lane so kindly hosted us for lunch! We ended our day and our New York City Retail Tour at the Jack Rogers Showroom.

I highly recommend that any and every student go on this trip! Aside from being a great way to spend a spring break, it was an incredible time to network with executives of well-known companies and Gator alumni. I will forever be grateful to the University of Florida’s Miller Retail Center for giving me this opportunity to fall in love with a city and make amazing professional connections at the same time.