Pop-ups – stores that occupy a vacant retail space for a short period of time – are popping up all over the Gables these days, especially on the recently redeveloped Miracle Mile. Shop owners like them because they can test their business in a location without committing until they know it works. City planners like them because they create what’s called “sticky space,” meaning that customers are more likely to stick around a neighborhood if they find something to look at in every retail window.
Sticky space is something that Gables’ Business Development Specialist Francesca Valdes is actively promoting. Pop-ups can create a “new moment” explained Valdes, a Key West native who returned to South Florida in 2016 after nearly two decades in New York working in public relations for high-end jewelry companies Georg Jensen and Tiffany.
“It’s good for the landlord in that they get some fresh activity and a fresh look,” says Valdes, and for retailers, well, they get to see what Coral Gables can do for their products. “If you’re in North or South Carolina, or if you’re coming from Washington, DC, it’s going to take a few touch points before you’re going to commit,” she says.
And that’s where Valdes comes in. “I’m a people connector,” she says. While the city doesn’t own most of the properties in downtown, Valdes knows who does and she also knows that at an average of $45 per square foot, the rents are certainly competitive. Her job is to learn about a retailer’s vision, consider whether it fits the tastes of Coral Gables shoppers, and then link those retailers to the brokers of the empty retail spaces.
The first signs of Valdes’ efforts are already popping up. At 263 Miracle Mile, the 828 Clothing store will be in place through the end of May. At four other locations, pop-up art galleries are now operating: at 217 is the Million Orchid Project sponsored by Fairchild gardens; at 359 is Urban Art; at 259 is Space Traveler; and at 360 is CG-Art Visions. Off the mile, there is Color Ride at 290 Aragon Ave.
Not to be left out, the Shops at Merrick Village did their own pop up in April, the Luxury Garage, which sold consignment fashions from Chanel, Gucci, and Hermes for up to 90 percent off retail.
Now, with Miracle Mile upgraded, “We’re really poised to make this happen,” says Valdes.