- January 16, 2015
What many consider the Main Street of Naples, Fifth Avenue South, is going against a retail industry trend this summer: It’s signing up new tenants.
The retail hotspot has signed up eight new businesses in the past two months — a significant coup given the struggles brick and mortar retailers have had fending off e-commerce competitors. Bruce Barone, executive director of the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District, says the surge stems from a combination of factors, from an internal emphasis on sense-of-place marketing to experience-based retail concepts. “We are seeing a bit of a renaissance here on Fifth,” Barone tells Coffee Talk.
Other retail centers in the region are targeting revivals, too. Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, for example, is in the process of becoming a “modern, all-inclusive shopping, dining and entertainment experience,” according to a 2018 statement from the center. The Coastland Center in Naples is also shifting to meet new demand. The former Sears there, demolished in July to make way for a proposed six-screen CinéBistro luxury movie theater, is the latest example.
New businesses on Fifth, meanwhile, include a gelato shop, a sunglasses store with a current location on Sanibel Island and a high-end florist, Kaleidoscope, which has handled celebrity weddings and events. Another new tenant is luxury beauty, cosmetics and skin care retailer Bluemercury.
The move toward retail-based experiences is a key driver for many of the successful businesses on Fifth Avenue South, Barone says. “They have to do more than just say, ‘Come in here, and buy stuff you can get online,’” Barone says. “When you come into a store, they have to treat you like family.”
Also, to generate interest in both new tenants and customers for those tenants, Barone and his Fifth Avenue South team prioritize social media, from pictures to posts. “We are constantly creating content,” Barone says. “It’s lifestyle branding.”
That branding helps Fifth Avenue South become an aspirational name on its own, much like other tony retail streets. “We want to be seen as a Rodeo Drive or a Worth Avenue,” Barone says, citing iconic shopping destinations in Beverly Hills and Palm Beach. “There is growing demand to be on Fifth Avenue.”