Despite its overabundance of shopping districts, from Lincoln Road in the east to Dadeland Mall in the southwest, South Florida isn’t exactly the best place to shop if you’re a local. It's a tourist mecca, and quite a bit of the retail sector is directed toward visitors, especially those who can’t find certain desired goods at home. In other words, it might be hard to find a Gucci bag in Bogotá, but here, simply go to Bal Harbour Shops or Aventura Mall or Sawgrass Mills.
If you’re the type of discerning consumer who likes to live stylishly yet affordably, it can be difficult to find decent shopping down here, outside of major mall brands and luxe designer labels. Miami has some major holes in its retail landscape. Here are a few places that would fill them.
It's sometimes known as Japan’s version of IKEA, but Muji is so much more — yet so much less. The brand, essentially, is that it's not a brand. The company's full name in Japanese, Mujirushi Ryohin, translates to “No Brand Quality Goods,” and that’s exactly what you get at these pristine stores: basic, minimally designed products ranging from everyday essentials such as food, skincare products, and office supplies to furniture and clothing. Muji makes everything, and it does it at a low cost and without garish logos. If you want to live a life of peace and simplicity (and who wouldn’t in this crazy city), this is the place to start.
Considering how many rappers, DJs, and other assorted hypebeasts shuttle in and out of South Florida daily, it’s a bit surprising we don’t yet have a Supreme outpost. The famous New York skate brand has inspired a legion of collectors to line up outside Supreme stores and flood its website for every new arrival. Supreme has opened stores recently in Paris and Brooklyn, and it’s high time company execs consider a Southeast outpost. They could hit up Miami Beach, possibly next to fellow street-wear mecca Kith; they could find a spot in Wynwood or the Design District; or they could follow their own path and choose an out-of-the-way neighborhood to make their own.
What makes Recreational Equipment Inc. a unique shopping experience isn’t simply cleanliness, modern decor, and excellent equipment for camping, climbing, hiking, watersports, and other outdoor activities. REI is a retail co-op, meaning you pay a $20 membership fee and, in return, receive a dividend and get to vote for its board of directors. Beyond that, it’s just a great place to shop if you want to head outdoors — especially if, like many Miamians, you don’t really mesh well with all the camo and weaponry at Bass Pro Shops.
Fast fashion gets a bad rap for good reasons, but if you must have your clothing at dirt-cheap prices, look to Uniqlo. The Japanese retailer doesn't chase trends at half the pace of rivals like Zara. Instead, it specializes in making the best-quality clothing possible at the lowest prices possible. That means T-shirts made from high-quality supima cotton and outdoor-wear using futuristic fabrics. Basically, Uniqlo clothes won’t fall apart after three washes like those H&M pants you bought.
If you’ve ever walked into a Wawa and been disappointed after hearing one of its fans gush about it and then finding it to be simply a slightly nicer version of a gas-station convenience store, Buc-ee's is the place for you. This Lone Star State icon is a true-blue, only-in-America phenomenon whose mascot is a chipper cartoon beaver wearing a red ball cap. Buc-ee's offers the quality control of a Japanese convenience store and the scale of a Walmart. Inside one of its comparatively massive stores, you’ll find delicious, freshly prepared Texas barbecue; tempting snacks such as pralines, trail mix, and “beaver nuggets” (a butter-soaked corn puff); and all manner of supplies and paraphernalia, from mascot T-shirts to grills and charcoal. The chain has pledged to open three Florida locations — in Fort Myers, St. Augustine, and Daytona Beach — but we think it should skip straight to Miami in two shakes of a beaver's tail.
Dover Street Market
Entering Dover Street Market is like entering a museum. In a sense, it’s because you know the pieces on display — including avant-garde labels such as Raf Simons, Balenciaga, and Thom Browne — will one day hang in the closets of collectors and fashion historians. But it’s also because the concept store, which changes its interior every season with new and exciting displays of art and design, has the feel of a playground for fashion lovers. Founded by Comme des Garçons maven Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street Market succeeds by injecting fun into the elitist field of haute couture.
If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, you probably know this discount chain by sight and sound alone. The blaring theme music and garish decor are sure to be the focal point of any block occupied by a Don Quijote store. Inside, the vortex of merchandise and signage covering every surface extinguishes any stereotypes of Japan as an overly orderly country. With locations throughout East Asia and three stateside outposts in Hawaii, “Donki” is infamous for packing its stores with anything and everything, from food and medicine to luggage and even sex toys. The chain is also known for wild stunts, such as erecting a roller coaster atop one of its stores, but there’s at least some method to the madness. Staffers at each location decide what to stock, meaning no store is the same as the others. In other words, it's a perfect fit for loco Miami: Imagine a Donki on Lincoln Road, where the scent of croquetas and pastelitos lures tourists and locals inside to buy snacks, guayaberas, and bikinis.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.