Coco Bella: A Charming Secret

Coco Bella Miami Gift & Home is the Place to Go for Those in Need of Gifts

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been to this gem of a store, Coco Bella, on this gem of a block, Alcazar Avenue. I’ve driven by hundreds of times thinking what a beautiful storefront, but never stopped to park. My loss. When I walked into the store to interview owner Esther Prinz, I was first surprised that Prinz looks like she could possibly still be in college, and secondly, by the size of the store and the breadth of products offered. 

Coco Bella has been around for 10 years, previously owned by a mother-daughter duo. Prinz worked there while in college at Miami-Dade, and even after graduation. It was her happy place. In Jan. 2020 the owners decided they wanted to close the store and move on. Prinz was heartbroken and couldn’t imagine Coral Gables without Coco Bella. So, she figured out a way to buy the store from them – just one month before our world would implode with the pandemic. 

Coco Bella: A Charming Secret
Owner Esther Prinz took over Coco Bella just before the pandemic and managed to survive by being creative – and by partnering with local businesses.

Prinz had a score of ideas about how to grow the store but wanted to make a few improvements right away. “I wanted to bring in local products to support others in Miami chasing their dreams,” she says. “And to bring in companies that do good for the world – companies and products that will help everybody live a more sustainable life.” Just as she began to accomplish this, however, everything was put on the back burner in March 2020. 

So how did Prinz keep a gift store from going under during the pandemic? She turned to selling homemade hand sanitizers from North Carolina and masks made in Miami. She partnered with local businesses to sell these wares at their stores, as well as in-house. Because of this, she was considered an essential business and therefore could remain open. Nothing like being young, smart, and resourceful. 

Coco Bella literally has something for everyone. It even carries a brand of soap named after your favorite wines, and candles that are named after your favorite cocktails. I promise you they smell amazing! She says women are her biggest clients but “some of my favorite cases are guys who stop by with no idea what to get and leave with a wrapped gift that’s beyond perfect. I love helping anybody and everybody find that perfect something.” 

The offerings run deep: Candles, soaps, beach bags and towels, dishware, wine bags, cards, baby gifts, teacher gifts, personal care items, jewelry, party accessories and celebratory gifts. Naturally, all holidays are covered. Her dream of bringing in the brands of local artisans, women-owned businesses, and ethical, sustainable products means they have premium position in her store. “I want my little store to not only be a happy place to visit, but also a place that genuinely helps others in whatever way possible,” she says. 

Coco Bella Miami is a unique specialty gift store.There are no clothes or furniture, just gifts of all kinds at all price points starting at $8. Prinz prides herself on customer service; she will stay open for customers if they can’t get there during regular store hours, and she offers curbside pickup from Instagram purchases. “I’m happy to do this,” she says. “But it really is the kind of place where you need to come inside and see it to fully understand it.”

Kim Rodriguez is a personal stylist and shopper whose clients include many Coral Gables residents.

Coco Bella Miami

305 Alcazar Ave.

Photos by Emily Fakhoury