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Bal Harbour Shops’ Road Trip Brings Luxury Shopping To New Places

by Staff

Since its opening in 1965, Bal Harbour Shops has been the rare outdoor shopping center driven solely by luxury retail tenants. It was the first U.S. location outside New York for both Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta. Developer Stanley Whitman claimed it was even the first mall to charge for parking.

As a luxury shopping mecca, Bal Harbour Shops is a global destination. When visiting Miami’s North Beach enclave isn’t in the cards, what’s a luxury tourist to do?

Lately, they’ve been letting the Bal Harbour Shops come to them.

The Bal Harbour Shops Travels For Vacationers And Luxury Shoppers

The Bal Harbour Shops Access Pop-up Tour officially landed in Sarasota, Florida on March 8, on the heels of a successful installment in Raleigh, North Carolina. Brands including Balmain, Etro, Tiffany & Co, Santa Maria Novella, Gianvitto Rossi, and Addict will be showcased for four weeks, then give way to Cremieux, Orlebar Brown, Golden Goose, and Dolce & Gabbana among other storefronts joining the limited-edition event.

Later this year, the Access Pop-up is scheduled to visit Walton County, Florida, and Greenville, South Carolina. For local residents, each installment marks an opportunity to see 2024’s highest-end fashion in person and discover their own style. For vacationers already planning a trip to these destinations, it’s an added perk. And for anyone who has never experienced the original Bal Harbour Shops in person, or can’t make it out in 2024, it’s a small taste of what you’re missing.

The pop-up shops are essentially a transportable mini-mall replicating Bal Harbour’s signature open-air, palm-tree-infused aesthetic. Because of the need to use shipping containers not just across the county, but across the world, they comply with the International Building Code and literally can pop up anywhere on the planet.

“Were we to operate this pop-up out of traditional brick-and-mortar buildings, we’d be wasting resources in each market we visited by making significant improvements to the retail spaces we would temporarily occupy, only to see those same improvements go to the landfill when the subsequent tenant takes possession of the space,” said Matthew Whitman Lazenby, President and Chief Executive Officer of Whitman Family Development. “With these shipping containers, we leave nothing behind and take everything with us.”

According to Lazenby, 30 custom-built shipping containers go into each installation, as do covered walkways with fans and a retractable canopy. Moving it from city to city is no small feat: the pop-up must be disassembled and reassembled by crane, using a set design and construction crew to ensure it is put together well and on-time. In addition to the containers that collectively make up the pop-up, the support containers for The Whitman restaurant, as well as the common area platforms and all of the hardscape and landscape, all get moved together.

The Whitman, a 150-seat restaurant serving a custom-designed menu, was designed just for this location. Reservations are available for brunch and lunch only.

Bal Harbour Shops, A New Template For Luxury Tourism

Why Sarasota? Between its white-sand beaches, iconic palm trees, and warm spring weather, Sarasota is an ideal location for the latest Bal Harbour Shops pop-up. The timing of the visit is no coincidence, either. In addition to its natural beauty, Sarasota offers a vibrant events scene in March and April. The Sarasota Jazz Festival (March 20-23), Sarasota Wine Festival (March 23) and Sarasota Film Festival (April 5-14) all overlap with the installation’s open and close.

More than a fun place to shop, the Bal Harbour pop-up experience offers a brand-new template for luxury tourism. Individual pop-up shops have come and gone from urban storefronts forever. But the idea of an entire mall picking up and leaving from one city to the next is new — and offers a noteworthy blueprint for a more sustainable kind of luxury tourism.

According to Lazenby, nothing like the Bal Harbour Shops pop-up has never been done before on this scale and with this level of complexity.

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