November 20, 2017

Q&A with Shoppes at Buckland Hills GM Andrew Sufian

Andrew Sufian

The countdown has begun toward launch of the holiday shopping season — technically from this week's "Black Friday" through year's end — and Andrew Sufian, who runs one of the biggest malls in the region, said the industry's busiest time of the year is a blast.

Sufian, general manager at The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester since 2014, calls it a fun, exciting time at the shopping center.

The center, which opened in 1990, has over 100 retailers and a variety far beyond traditional apparel, Sufian said. It also has six full-service restaurants, 12 fast-casual dining options and entertainment like Dave & Busters and a comedy club, Funny Bone.

Buckland Hills, with over 1 million square feet in gross leasable space and anchor tenants that include Macy's, J.C. Penney and Dick's Sporting Goods, enters its holiday season orbit from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving and is back at it from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday, with extended hours through the season.

While full days off are hard to come by for Sufian this time of year, he gets some rest and relaxation, thanks to his strong staff, he said.

Before Buckland Hills, Sufian was an operations manager at Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont, where he spent nearly 10 years in various management roles, while also earning a law degree from Albany Law School and a bachelor's in business and law from Skidmore College.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your job?

I don't necessarily consider this a challenge, but it is top of mind: We are always evaluating the changing needs of guests and working to bring new uses and brands we know our community has come to expect.

What's the biggest challenge facing The Shoppes at Buckland Hills?

Remaining competitive in a market that is highly saturated with retail.

What's the biggest opportunity you face in your job?

To continue to develop the center into one of the region's best destinations for retail, dining and entertainment.

What's the biggest opportunity facing the mall?

To continue to develop our mixed-use offerings to complement those that have found great success here, such as Dave & Busters, H&M and Maggie McFly's.

What's the competitive landscape like in the Greater Hartford shopping center industry?

Retail is very competitive in this market, but we have a great edge and success through our dining and entertainment. We are constantly in conversations with tenants to expand offerings for customers.

Tell us something about you many people don't know.

When I was younger, I was a competitive skier and able to do flips — not so brave anymore.

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