Dolphin Mall hails double-digit sales rise 36 months in row
By Cara Boruch-Dolan
A struggling economy may be reality for many South Florida shopping centers, but apparently not for Dolphin Mall, where sales revenues continue to rise at a consistent rate.
"We've continued to have double-digit growth each month for the past 36 months," said Madelyn Bello-Calvar, director of marketing and sponsorship.
The mall compares tenant sales each month. While new stores definitely aid that total, Ms. Bello-Calvar said, sales are still increasing with stores, restaurants and entertainment venues that are more established as well.
She credits to Dolphin Mall's sales success the continual leasing of retail space. Even today, she says, hardly any space within the mall isn't under either contract or contract negotiation.
"That's that definitely better than other malls in the area," said Boris Kozolchyk, senior vice president of retail services at Grubb & Ellis. "The Dolphin Mall is definitely different and has a better performance than other general retail centers."
Since its opening in March 2001, Dolphin Mall has continually been a draw for both local shoppers and tourists, Ms. Bello-Calvar said. She attributes its steady business to paying such close attention to the consumer market in the area.
"We listen to our customers and make sure that they're getting the type of store that they want," she said.
Currently, Dolphin Mall's more than 240 retail stores include 13 major anchors on the 1.4 million-square-foot chunk of land. There are also two movie theaters, a bowling alley, a Dave & Busters and more than 30 restaurant choices, said Ms. Bello-Calvar.
The Dolphin Mall Web site adds eight new stores to the directory. One, fashion retailer Forever 21, recently expanded to 42,000 square feet, she said.
Dolphin Mall also expanded dining options. Opening last year were popular sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings and Taverna Opa, a Greek-style restaurant, Ms. Bello-Calvar said. This summer, she said, a P.F. Chang's China Bistro has had a successful opening as the first free-standing addition to the mall.
The opening of the Catch of the Day restaurant in late 2010 will prove to be a draw for diners as the first seafood restaurant offered at the mall, she predicted.
New retail additions for this year, she said, include the Gap Factory Store, True Religion Brand Jeans and The Outlet, a new 25,000-square-foot luxury outlet concept for Bloomingdale's. Dolphin Mall will be one of the first shopping centers in the country in which The Outlet will be featured, she said.
The Dolphin Mall plans to expand its entertainment appeal for 2011, Ms. Bello-Calvar said, with the Cool-de-sac Play Café, where children will be able to play at interactive stations while their parents can sit and enjoy organic cuisine.
Retailers aren't in constant rotation, however. Retail veteran Splash Perfumes has been with the mall since it opened and is still drawing from its success, said Jacob Pfeffer, chief operating officer.
"Sales have been up in a very healthy way the past few years," said Mr. Pfeffer, who also operates two watch stores in Dolphin Mall.
Especially in Miami's "inflated" market, he said, pinpointing the source of increased sales is difficult. Mr. Pfeffer attributes the mall's success to its maturity and establishing a solid customer base with big-name retailers.
"It's still good that the mall can continually increase sales despite the recessionary environment," Mr. Pfeffer said.
Besides the new additions and perpetual sales, Ms. Bello-Calvar says the Dolphin Mall's shuttle service helps draw in tourists and cruise ship travelers. The shuttle brings visitors from downtown Miami, Miami International Airport, the hotels surrounding it and South Beach. Ms. Bello-Calvar said that adding the South Beach pickup in 2009 increased tourism.
"The most important thing the mall does is that shuttle," Mr. Pfeffer said. "The moment they introduced it, it's been a success. It literally brings people with money to the mall."
The Dolphin Mall celebrated boosts to sales in August. Besides tax-free weekend, it hosted the Back 2 School Fun Fest on Aug. 14.
"Traffic was definitely up those two weekends," Ms. Bello-Calvar said.
Mr. Pfeffer says the reason Dolphin Mall did so well this summer has been South American tourists. This being their winter break, the Dolphin Mall creates a shopping environment where they want to take advantage of a weakened dollar.
Ms. Bello-Calvar hinted at larger, un-finalized projects for the mall to be announced soon. She wouldn't comment whether it was additional retailers or construction, but simply said, "There's always something exciting going on at Dolphin Mall."