A healthy blend of mom-and-pop shops and national retail chains are key to the continued success of Lincoln Road, and the shopping district is looking to strike that perfect balance.
In order to get to that point, the district needs to attract more local businesses, said Lyle Stern, president of the real estate company Koniver Stern Group and board member of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District.
Fritz’s Skate Bike & Surf Shop, the Dog Bar and Lulu Labratorium represent a few of the Miami businesses Lincoln Road has recently brought back to the area.
“I think what makes streets interesting are local tenants, interesting tenants,” Stern said. “Doesn’t mean the [national brands] aren’t interesting as well. A well-curated street has a blend of both.”
As a broker for some of the properties lining Lincoln Road, he said “interesting” tenants doesn’t always mean local shops. It could include online-only brands opening its first brick-and-mortar stores, or national chains that are sought after by tourists.
He said chains will always be important to the success of Lincoln Road, not only because tourists love them but because they can weather economic turmoil better than small businesses.
“As much as some people might say, ‘Jeez, there are national tenants there, it’s lost most of its flavor,’ the reality is that we don’t have to look much farther than Aventura Mall to see that people really want to go shop in places they know and understand,” Stern said.
Tim Schmand, executive director of the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District, said more local businesses are needed because they attract Miami-Dade residents to Lincoln Road and keep them coming back.
“My job for Lincoln Road is to make it a special place not only for tourists, but for our residents,” he said. “It’s always best to be friends with your neighbors.”
Stern said about 45% of Lincoln Road visitors each year are locals.
Schmand pointed to the two new food halls as another way to get locals entrepreneurs involved.
Time Out Market Miami and the Lincoln Eatery are food halls that feature local chefs testing new recipes and ideas out of small booths, unlike a traditional mall food court. He likened it to a food truck gathering, but more confined.
The new eatery at 1601 Drexel Ave. features 16 eateries and three bars while the Lincoln Eatery at 723 Lincoln Lane has 16 fast-casual food businesses.
Looking forward, Stern said he’s not sure if there is an ideal proportion of local-versus-national retailers for Lincoln Road, but the number one priority is that the district doesn’t become homogenous or too similar to any other mall in South Florida.
“A good healthy mix keeps it interesting,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s 50-50 or 60-40, but I think you need a good, healthy blend.”