Inside Vessel, a 16-story honeycomb-like structure at the main entrance to New York’s Hudson Yards retail complex. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Shop Till You Drop
From Amazon’s Prime Day to Cyber Monday, technology has changed the retail landscape. Now, traditional stores that cater to a high-end clientele are scrambling to develop exciting experiences in response.
Vessel and The Shed behind it attract visitors to Hudson Yards’ shopping mall. Jason E Kaufman
Having opened to much fanfare in March, New York’s Hudson Yards—with more than 700,000 square feet of retail and office space topped by a three-story Neiman Marcus centered around a six-story glass atrium—represents super-malls that promise to be templates for the future of cities. Across the river in New Jersey, the 3-million-square-foot American Dream shopping center is slated to open this fall, featuring atriums with birds and bunnies, an indoor snow park, and a koi court with a runway. Who said retail is dead? It’s not; it’s just evolving.
Forrester Research projects that in 2019, 13 percent of domestic retail sales will come from online sales, while 87 percent will come from brick-and-mortar stores with nearly half of those sales influenced by digital touch points. But where luxury shoppers want to shop is changing. “In the past few years, consumers have been gravitating toward smaller, neighborhood concept stores,” says fashion and retail consultant Robert Burke. “High-end customers don’t want to shop with a lot of tourists. They want a more intimate experience that’s convenient and reflects their lifestyle.”
That means shopping destinations with a robust mix of home, wellness, fashion, and fitness, as well as restaurants and concept stores like Milan’s 10 Corso Como, which is now stateside in Manhattan’s seaport district, and Dallas’ Forty Five Ten in Hudson Yards. Add events and pop-ups and you’ve got a successful formula for a dynamic spot that attracts families and serious shoppers alike. Here, we highlight three small-scale, neighborhood retail centers that strike a balance between commerce and community—proving bigger is not always better.
The clock tower at Highland Park Village. Courtesy Highland Park Village
Handmade artisan bowls at the LOCAL market. Courtesy Highland Park Village
Considered to be America’s first shopping center, Highland Park Village has been the heart of Dallas’ Highland Park neighborhood since it was built in 1931. The Mediterranean Spanish–style complex has always been individually owned, preserving both its architecture and community values. In 2009, two local couples, Ray and Heather Washburne along with Stephen and Elisa Summers (Heather and Elisa are sisters), bought the property, making them only the third owners.
Their goal: support neighborhood businesses like Deno’s of Highland Park Shoe Repair and the Village Barber (where you can still get a hot straight shave), while bringing in A-list global luxury brands like their latest coup Goyard—which they had been wooing for years and finally lured to open its first retail outlet in Texas in a spot between Harry Winston and Tory Burch.
Luxury shopping is just part of the Highland Park Village equation. Chief marketing officer Victoria Snee says, “We want to create the best and most convenient experience for customers in a hurry.” Added to the mix are complimentary services like personal shoppers who can pull what you need from the shops on-site and an in-house chauffeur named Giancarlo who will pick you up from your hotel or home. And for locals who want an exclusive private social club experience, they can join the newly opened Park House for events like wine tasting, art talks, and pop-up themed dinners. “We’re a luxury shopping and dining destination for tourists but also a neighborhood spot for the community,” says Snee. To serve the surrounding community, the Village hosts events like kid film festivals and the LOCAL market, which takes place monthly in the spring and fall. hpvillage.com
Flowers for sale at Palisades Village. Courtesy Caruso
A picturesque experience. Courtesy Caruso
Developer Rick Caruso made a name for himself as someone who turns shopping destinations into Disney-esque experiences replete with trolleys and musical Bellagio fountains à la The Grove in Los Angeles. But the Palisades Village—one of his latest endeavors—is more about servicing the affluent residents of the Pacific Palisades than building attractions.
This coastal village retail complex is inspired by relaxed, neighborhood destinations like Bleecker Street in Manhattan and Long Island’s Sag Harbor. “The community didn’t want a lot of chain stores, so we inspired brands that had been selling online to open their first brick-and-mortar locations; and for others, their first West Coast–based location,” says Julie Jauregui, senior vice president, retail operations and leasing at Caruso. In that mix is Jimmy Choo founder Tamara Mellon, who opened a 400-square-foot store where her new shoe line is the adornment. Similarly, jeweler Jennifer Meyer was inspired by the inside of a jewel box for her 500-square-foot space, where customers can browse the scope of her designs all in one place.
There’s also one of the smallest Sephora stores stocked with a curated selection of makeup; a Chanel Beauté boutique specializing in fragrance, skincare, and makeup; and the first West Coast outlet of Hamptons’ original Botanica Bazaar, carrying a coveted collection of natural skincare brands like Vintner’s Daughter.
Sweet Laurel gluten-free bakery and an Erewhon natural foods market cater to health-conscious locals, as do the free fitness classes for mom and baby. The family-friendly food options are still places where adults can get a cocktail, such as The Draycott—where London restaurateurs Marissa and Matt Hermer, who have relocated to Los Angeles, serve up local ingredients with a British twist. “The way we look at luxury is not about global luxury brands,” explains Jauregui, “it’s about the experience of the property.” On Sunday afternoons in the summer, find families sitting on blankets eating ice cream and listening to a music series sponsored by Porsche. Around the holidays, the venue hosts a tree lighting. palisadesvillageca.com
The lifestyle boutique and library of luxury book publisher Assouline. Courtesy The Royal Poinciana Plaza
Wines to buy and try at Virginia Philip’s shop. Courtesy The Royal Poinciana Plaza
Palm Beach, Florida
An institution in this glitzy, upscale town since it opened in the late ’50s, the plaza was designed in the mid-century glamour style by Austrian architect John L. Volk, whose residential clients included the Vanderbilts, DuPonts, and Fords. Its lush tropical landscape and shaded arcades with their black-and-white terrazzo tile have defined the ideal of Palm Beach living for generations of families.
In the past few years, under the auspices of WS Development (one of the largest retail developers in the world), Royal Poinciana has embraced its legacy while catapulting into the present with new retailers and community engagement. Fourth-generation Palm Beacher and granddaughter of local maven Lilly Pulitzer, Lilly Leas Ferreira has taken the helm as general manager. Popular institutions like TooJay’s Gourmet Deli (world-famous rye bread) remain, and other unique offerings include a juice bar at the family-owned Celis Produce and master sommelier Virginia Philip’s Wine Spirits & Academy.
“We are constantly finding ways to bring the space to life,” say Leas Ferreira, adding that the Plaza plans to host more than 300 events this year, including a Weekend Wellness program with outdoor fitness classes and Wee Royals children’s programming (tie-dye workshop, anyone?). With shopping still its core mission, the complex has curated an eclectic tenant mix that showcases fashion as well as culture. The Grand Tour by Caroline Rafferty appeals to interior design enthusiasts looking for antiques and textiles, and Los Angeles’ gallery owner Sarah Gavlak will soon open an outpost to showcase contemporary art with a focus on LGBTQ and female artists. To soothe shoppers after Hermès and Saint Laurent sprees, there’s a CBD ritual massage at the Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa. For dessert, there’s always gelato at Sant Ambroues. theroyalpoincianaplaza.com