Now the Aventura real estate agent has purchased rugs, tables, vases and other accessories from the store. “They’re contemporary and elegant and the quality is amazing,’’ she said.
Out-of-town buyers represent about 70 percent of Saccaro’s clientele. They range from Europeans, who appreciate the Art Deco and contemporary lines of the furniture, to New Yorkers and predictably Brazilians and other Latin Americans who furnish their second homes in Miami with a brand they know from home.
“We pretty much follow the patterns of the real estate market, who is buying,’’ said Katia Silva, manager of the showroom and marketing director as well as Silva’s wife.
Luxury condos in major Brazilian cities continue to far outstrip South Florida prices for equivalent units, meaning with their savings Brazilians can afford to decorate their new properties here, spending around 10 percent of the purchase price and still come out ahead, she said.
But the designer pieces at Saccaro come with hefty price tags. Most sofas in the Miami store retail for $3,000 to $4,000 but the two-piece sectional Carrera sofa sells for $14,000. The store also works with wholesalers.
In an interesting international twist, the Silvas also are selling to Brazilians who buy the furniture in Miami and then ship it home. A combination of the strong Brazilian currency, the real, compared to the U.S. dollar and high local taxes in Brazil actually make it cheaper to buy the furniture here and ship it back to Brazil, said Luiz Silva.
“Brazil has a very complicated, convoluted tax structure,’’ said Silva. “Anytime you do an invoice, there is one tax on top of another. Sometimes these taxes add up to 50 percent of the purchase price. All of a sudden it becomes ridiculous.’’
But when Brazilian products are exported, he said, there is almost no tax on exports.
“We don’t want to hurt anyone’s business in Brazil,” said Silva, “but this is just something that is happening and people are taking advantage of it.’’
Saccaro isn’t the only local business benefitting from the influx of Brazilian buyers. Last year, more Brazilians (634,155) visited Greater Miami for overnight stays than any other international group and they spent $1.345 billion.
No figures are available yet for Brazilian visitors so far this year, but recent arrival numbers at Miami International Airport indicate Miami’s status as a magnet for foreign visitors endures. MIA’s international arrivals climbed to a record 3.28 million in the first four months of the year, a 10.3 percent increase over the same period in 2011. Currently about 78 direct flights arrive at MIA weekly from Brazil, according to airport officials.
Although the Brazilian economy is slowing, South Florida prices for many consumer products remain lower than in Brazil and are still a big draw for Brazilians.
Businesses from airlines to electronics stores to Macy’s, which is in the midst of a celebration of Brazilian culture and art and is offering a collection of Brazilian-inspired and Brazilian-made products online and at selected stores, are all courting Brazilians.
So far, the Silvas said they are very happy with the first Saccaro store in the United States. “It’s been beyond our expectations, but competition is very tough — plus the fact that our brand wasn’t really known in the United States,’’ said Luiz Silva. “We’re starting to see repeat business and referrals.’’
Among future targets for Saccaro stores, he said, are Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
Plus, the furniture is starting to make inroads among younger U.S. buyers who appreciate Brazilian design with its emphasis on natural materials and comfort. Americans, he said, got used to living with 18th and 19th century British-style furniture, but now “more and more they’re immersing themselves in contemporary design.’’