The Story of Stanley Whitman’s Bal Harbour Shops
Step into the wonderful world of retail visionary Stanley Whitman—often called the Walt Disney of Retail—and creator of Bal Harbour Shops, the most successful luxury fashion destination in the world, with Rizzoli’s newly launched Theater of Shopping, now available at Books & Books Bal Harbour.
Whitman spent his childhood on Collins Avenue and 32nd street in his family's five-bedroom home witnessing the city’s evolution from mangrove-filled marshlands to a world-class resort destination.
To Whitman, Miami was a canvas of possibilities, where he would eventually create a destination unlike any other attracting shoppers from all over the globe, as they could sit beside koi ponds amid a lush tropical landscape while shopping the most esteemed designer brands.
He meticulously documented everything as he traveled from Fifth Avenue to dozens of middle-of-the-road establishments to the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, which became an inspiration for the Shops. “You can’t ever compromise with architects…you pay them and they do it your way,” Whitman said.
Whitman dedicated his life to creating a unique and beguiling fashion center that would stand the test of time. He paid close attention to how his customers utilized his creation, adapting to the ever-changing wants and needs and predicting ones to come. He understood the importance of experience, designing a space that was beyond brick and mortar—an establishment that holds a deep-seated emotional connection from its most loyal shoppers to first-timers.
Whitman’s grandson, Matthew Whitman Lazenby carries forth his grandfather’s legacy and continues to stay one step ahead of the times as the Shops continues to thrive and evolve. “Bal Harbour Shops has always been about creating something memorable,” says Lazenby. “People have emotional connections to Bal Harbour, which is very unique for a shopping center. Stanley Whitman certainly set the tone for generations to come.”