Chain Stores Have Already Arrived in Wynwood (You Just Don't Know They're Chains)

A paradise full of chain stores.
A paradise full of chain stores.
Photo by Phillip Pessar via MNT Flickr Group

If a Gap or Urban Outfitters popped up in Wynwood anytime soon, many locals would decry it as the official death of the neighborhood. The fear is that in less than 15 years, Wynwood would have transformed from genuine art district into an outdoor suburban shopping mall full of the type of stores found everywhere else in the rest of the country. We already saw that happen to South Beach's Lincoln Road

Here's the thing: Wynwood already does look like a lot of neighborhoods in the rest of the country, and it's filled with many of the same smaller chains. People just don't realize they're chains yet. 

Real Estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield identified Wynwood this week as one of 15 different "Cool Streets" neighborhoods across America. It sits alongside neighborhoods like Silver Lake in Los Angeles, Jackson Square in San Francisco, and Minneapolis's North Loop.

Here's a breakdown of just how "cool" Wynwood is: 

Chain Stores Have Already Arrived in Wynwood (You Just Don't Know They're Chains) (2)

So Wynwood is "cool"; it's just cool in the exact same way as at least 15 other neighborhoods scattered across America.

Sure, these 'hoods all have their own favorite local artisanal coffee shop, craft cocktail bars, fancy donut shops, and coterie of food trucks. They also are starting to have the same exact stores. 

"Cool Streets serve as an incubator of sorts for what will likely be the hottest new retail concepts of tomorrow," reads the report. 

Cushman and Wakefield reports that while there's growing uncertainty about the future of traditional midprice-point retail stores like Gap and Abercrombie, a new breed of chains is coming up from behind to take their place, albeit on a smaller scale. They write:

"This phenomenon is not happening in the malls, whether they are thriving trophy centers or dying Class C properties. Nor is it happening in urban high street markets like Fifth Avenue, the Magnificent Mile, Rodeo Drive, or Union Square, or even in suburban community, neighborhood, and power centers where discount is the name of the game. It is not happening on the High streets or on the Main streets, but on what we call the Cool Streets."

In fact, almost every single chain the report identifies already has a location within Wynwood or has plans to open one soon. Here are the "Cool Street" chains identified: 

Shinola: The report identifies the company as one of the "most active Cool Streets players." "Shinola is definitely not just a watch or a bicycle or a leather goods store. Shinola is a lifestyle store for Millennials," they write. Naturally, it has a brand new Wynwood location. 

Warby Parker: The cheap but chic eyeglass company that started as an online phenomenon is now rapidly expanding with brick-and-mortar stores. Naturally,  they already have a location on NW 25th Street. It's one of about 30 locations that the brand now operates. Many of them are in those other "Cool Streets." 

Bonobos: Another company that got its start online (this time with men's pants). It's set to open one of its first retail locations at the soon-to-open Wynwood Arcade center on NW 24th Street. 

Marine Layer: A San Francisco-based chain that specializes in soft cotton. Of course, they already have a Miami location near the Wynwood Walls. (Side note: Marine Layer's website oddly identifies Wynwood as being in Miami Beach.)

Kit and Ace: Founded in just 2014 by the former lead designer of Lululemon, Kit and Ace specializes in clothing made out of tech-advanced fabrics. The chain has over 50 stores worldwide, and one of them is here in Wynwood (they also have a second Miami location in Coconut Grove).

And those are just the chains listed in this report. 

Don't worry, Cushman and Wakefield says that "independent retailers remain the heart and soul of the Cool Street phenomenon. Small chains, start-ups and little guys are those most thriving in those locations." 

And those independent retailers will continue to give each of these "Cool Street" neighborhoods some sort of unique flavor, but up-and-coming chains will start popping up in all of these neighborhoods. 

So the bottom line on the continued gentrification of Wynwood: Don't worry about the Gap opening in the neighborhood anytime soon. But the company that becomes the "next Gap" might already have set up shop. 

Correction: Originally we misstated the number of stores Kit and Ace has worldwide. 


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