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Why This Miami Shopping Destination Is Bringing High-End Brands on the Road

The Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-Up aims to introduce luxury retail to unexpected, underserved markets as well as bring the South Florida shopping experience to a larger audience.

The Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-Up tour kicked off in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is right now wrapping up an eight-week stay in South Walton, Florida.
The Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-Up tour kicked off in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is right now wrapping up an eight-week stay in South Walton, Florida.
Photo: Courtesy of Bal Harbour Shops

SOUTH WALTON, FLA.—When you think luxury, shops in shipping containers aren't probably what comes to mind. But high-end retail destination Bal Harbour Shops is changing that with a mobile mall experience—bringing bougie boutiques to areas that might be devoid of designer outlets. 

Owned by Whitman Family Development, the open-air shopping mall in Bal Harbour, Florida, a suburb of Miami Beach, boasts Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue as anchor stores, along with dozens of high-end luxe shops. The shops also recently launched a $500-million expansion plan that aims to double the size of the mall.

Its new mobile activation/retail installation, Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-Up, features a curated collection of well-established as well as up-and-coming brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Veronica Beard, Santa Maria Novella, Assouline, Lanvin, Orlebar Brown, Tiffany & Co., and more, with some brands rotating halfway through the stop.

There’s also a restaurant that seats 150 people called â€śThe Whitman.” It was created exclusively for the pop-up experience by the Constellation Culinary Group, which has several venue partners in the Miami area. 

Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-Up features a curated collection of well-established as well as up-and-coming brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Veronica Beard, and more, with some brands rotating halfway through the stop.Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-Up features a curated collection of well-established as well as up-and-coming brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Veronica Beard, and more, with some brands rotating halfway through the stop.Photo: Courtesy of Bal Harbour ShopsThe tour kicked off in Raleigh, North Carolina, in November and is right now wrapping up an eight-week stay in South Walton at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, an upscale shopping and dining center located along the Florida coastline. Before that, it was in Sarasota, Fla. Whitman Family Development plans to continue the tour indefinitely, with Greenville, S.C., next on the list; more stops have yet to be announced. Pop Up Agency is handling the project management and strategy for the experience. 

The pop-up includes a restaurant called “The Whitman.” Its menu evolves to reflect the local market, while serving up some Miami flair like fresh stone crabs that were flown into Raleigh and key lime tarts.The pop-up includes a restaurant called “The Whitman.” Its menu evolves to reflect the local market, while serving up some Miami flair like fresh stone crabs that were flown into Raleigh and key lime tarts.Photo: Courtesy of Bal Harbour ShopsCarolyn Travis, marketer general of Whitman Family Development, said that the experience is being introduced to “luxury-deprived markets” after reviewing customer data and selecting locations to address specific customer demands.  

“This strategic move aims to build new relationships and better serve their existing audience with a fresh and exciting offering. By entering these underserved markets, Bal Harbour Shops can tap into a latent demand for luxury experiences and products, providing exclusive access to curated selections. This approach not only broadens our customer base but also reinforces BHS’ commitment to delivering exceptional shopping experiences tailored to the preferences and desires of our clientele,” Travis said. 

The custom installation by architecture firm LOT-EK spans 17,000 square feet and is built from 30 shipping containers stacked two high. It includes covered walkways with fans and a retractable canopy, and it utilizes Bal Harbour Shops’ signature palm tree motif and monstera leaf design. Koi ponds, fountains, and planters filled with lush greenery help bring the chic Miami vibes to these other locations.

The installation includes covered walkways with fans and a retractable canopy and features Bal Harbour Shops’ signature palm tree motif and monstera leaf design. Koi ponds, fountains, and planters filled with lush greenery help bring the chic Miami vibes to other locations.The installation includes covered walkways with fans and a retractable canopy and features Bal Harbour Shops’ signature palm tree motif and monstera leaf design. Koi ponds, fountains, and planters filled with lush greenery help bring the chic Miami vibes to other locations.Photo: Courtesy of Bal Harbour ShopsThe individual shops range in size—from 250 to 640 square feet and up—and feature glass fronts. The spaces are fully outfitted with furniture, panels, shelving, and vitrines to highlight the merchandise. The pop-up hosts weekly events, including a weekday happy hour, high tea, and Sunday brunch, partnering with local ambassadors and community groups to craft a full suite of bespoke programming and events. 

The individual shops range in size—from 250 to 640 square feet and up—and feature glass fronts.The individual shops range in size—from 250 to 640 square feet and up—and feature glass fronts.Photo: Courtesy of Bal Harbour ShopsThe restaurant’s menu also evolves to reflect the local market, while serving up some Miami flair like fresh stone crabs that were flown into Raleigh and key lime tarts.

The epic undertaking took the development company over two and a half years to plan. The fabrication process itself took another six months. And it takes four weeks to break down the pop-up. It’s then shipped on a fleet of trucks to the next market—palm trees and koi fish included.

According to Travis, the use of shipping containers “has made it much more seamless and efficient to move everything.” In addition to the logistics of the pop-up tour, she added that “selecting on-brand locations that can accommodate an activation of this magnitude” has been a challenge. “We wanted each site to align perfectly with our brand's image and provide the ideal setting for our luxury experience. Balancing these requirements while ensuring the logistical feasibility of each location has been complex.” 

The pop-up has welcomed more than 25,000 visitors so far.The pop-up has welcomed more than 25,000 visitors so far.Photo: Courtesy of Bal Harbour ShopsServing as a kind of elaborate billboard for BHS, the pop-up has welcomed more than 25,000 visitors so far.

“Through this initiative, we aim to reinforce our commitment to clientele by building strong, personal relationships with both new and existing customers. We hope visitors leave the pop-up feeling valued and inspired, having experienced a unique and luxurious shopping environment that exceeds their expectations.”  

Travis also said that the brands that participate in the pop-up “gain exposure in new and luxury-deprived markets, access to a highly targeted and engaged audience, and the opportunity to be part of a unique and exciting experience that enhances their brand image and accessibility.”

VENDORS

AV & IT: MyArtsNet
Canopy: ShadeFXRA Engineering
Engineering: Silman Structural Solutions
General Contractor: BestSet
Landscaping: Studio Zewde
Lead Fabrication: BMarko Structures
Planters and Displays:Daedalus
Production: Clearwing

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