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A few months ago, Racked headed down to Palm Beach Island to check out the Worth Avenue renovation which had just gotten underway. In a town where the median age is 67 and per capita income is $109,219—there's even a residential area called Billionaire's Row, a street which nearly two dozen billionaires call home—Worth Avenue is the retail destination. The shopping district boasts stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, Chanel, Chopard, Hermes, Jimmy Choo, and Van Cleef & Arpels.
But, it seems, despite all the wealth and luxury, all was not well. Confronted with competition from an upspringing of new shopping centers and communities nearby, Palm Beach Island retail started looking for a way to attract more, and younger, shoppers. "There’s a significant difference in customer base," Vincent Ottomanelli, president of Salvatore Ferrgamo told WWD. "More than 65 percent of our Palm Beach store clientele is from the island, and the Gardens store reaches residents in northern developments like Frenchman’s Creek and Admiral’s Cove who don’t shop Palm Beach.” The newspaper reports: "The once-exclusive brands that attracted shopping sprees by the likes of Jackie O are now ubiquitous throughout the region."
To that end, Worth Avenue powers-that-be spend the last six months digging things up and replanting. Saks now boasts a living mural—we hear rumors that each individual plant lives in its own test tube and feeding and watering are controlled through a computer mainframe situated in Canada—and the two-lane road in front of anchor shopping center 150 Worth has been narrowed to create more sidewalk space for plants and benches. The piazza between midpoint flagships Chanel and Tiffany & Co. has also been transformed into a pedestrian-only piazza. WWD reports: "The tenants of Worth Avenue also are optimistic now that the beautification project is complete and, for better or worse, the island has lost some of its snobbishness."
· A Makeover for Palm Beach's Old Guard [WWD]