South Florida draws visitors from around the world not only for its sandy beaches, fine dining and exuberant nightlife, but also for its out-of-this-world shopping. In fact, after Disney World in Orlando, the second-busiest tourist attraction in the Sunshine State is a shopping center: Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, 20 minutes west of Fort Lauderdale.
“We’re kind of like the United Nations of shopping," said Luanne Lenberg, the vice president and general manager for Sawgrass Mills. "We have customers from all over the world; people from more than 100 countries shop here or have shopped here.”
With shopping being a tourist experience, malls can function very differently than they might in other regions. For example, at Sawgrass Mills, which has more than 500 businesses on its property, language skills are a requirement for employees. Also, Sawgrass accommodates travelers by offering a Shop and Drop bag-storage service, three shipping companies and shuttles that travel from major hotels in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
“In many cases, our guests have checked out of their hotel and they may be coming here to shop as one of their last stops before they head to the airport,” Lenberg explained. “For many of our tourists, this is a day-long adventure in saving and finding great merchandise.”
And the merchandise is amazingly varied, ranging from affordable brands like Old Navy to luxury labels like Gucci. Plus, because the mall is primarily an outlet shopping center, the finds are always a bargain, which is a huge draw for Latin American, Asian and European visitors looking for name brands they can’t get at home.
“Anybody can come here to shop and virtually anybody can find something that they’re looking for, or at, the price they want,” Lenberg said.
Sawgrass Mills, 12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise, 954.846.2350, simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills