Monday, March 18, 2019

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times: The Story of Miami Small Businesses

There is a lot of chatter in Miami about big name brands pushing out local mom-and-pops. The concern is not off-base. Take a walk down Lincoln Road and tell me you feel differently. Small shops just can't compete with rising rents, shopping seasonality, our fickle "hot new thing" mentality, and other challenges of doing business in Miami. Yes, Lincoln Road has seen a lot of growth in recent years but at the expense of the strip's homegrown roots.

Amidst the paradigm shift, there is hope for Miami-born businesses. For starters, there is a myriad of movements—large and small—working diligently to "save Main Street." Take the Shop Small campaign, an effort from American Express to support local businesses that make a community strong, originating from the concept of Small Business Saturday. Similarly, the grassroots Witness the New Downtown movement, under the leadership of Nidal Barake's Gluttonomy in partnership with Stambul USA, is a unified voice of change to transform Downtown Miami with a focus on highlighting and drawing in small businesses. Among its ambassadors are notable Miami entrepreneurs including Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta of Bar Lab, Karina Iglesias of NIU Kitchen, Brian and Randy Alonso of local watering hole, Lost Boy Dry Goods.

Another nugget of good news is that there are small businesses that are surfing the wave of change. When I was walking home from work last week, I was pleasantly delighted to see Fritz's is not only still around but also upgraded its digs to Lincoln Road proper. (Before, the skate, bike and surf shop was located near Lincoln Road with a Washington Avenue address.) Similarly, my favorite working lunch staple Spris is still standing strong after all these years. In my perspective, a part of what gives them a fighting chance is our choice to support our neighbors and a part of it is that the internet has allowed them to elevate their presence beyond physical foot traffic.

I recently read an interview with Chris Brencans, the Chief Marketing Officer for On The Map Marketing, regarding the importance of SEO and how to build online presence. It is clear to me that if each business takes the right steps to increase their own visibility and the small business movements continue to gain momentum, we will see the transition continue—it’s inevitable—but we'll see it settle in a happy balance that allows for both corporate and community driven options to foster our economic growth. And, that's really all I can ask as a Miami-an and a consumer.

1 comment

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