This long-time Miami Beach beauty business is closing, thanks to rising rents

Brownes Merchant & Trading on Jefferson Avenue is closing. Its original location was on Lincoln Road.
Brownes Merchant & Trading on Jefferson Avenue is closing. Its original location was on Lincoln Road.

The rising rents in South Beach have claimed another victim.

Brownes Merchant & Trading Company, the “experts in all things beauty” is closing the doors of its Jefferson Avenue store.

The culprit, of course, is the cost of doing business in and around Lincoln Road.

Owner Nikki Mallon opened the store in 1995 on Lincoln Road (the original spot is now an Urban Outfitters and Sunglass Hut). The store moved to Jefferson Avenue seven years ago.

Mallon posted a farewell note on the door.

“Brownes sold 150 of the best brands I could forage from across the world, offered along with salon and spa services that made clients line up and swoon,” she wrote.. “Our neighbors were the wondrous & jazzy Van Dyke Cafe and Maison Gino, a time-warped tchotchke store next door that sold porcelain figurines and bone china. I loved every minute of it. Lincoln Road was electric, eclectic, and a true community of little businesses that could.”


Now, though, Lincoln Road is somewhat less electric and eclectic, especially when you consider Van Dyke Cafe is a lululemon.

Stores that have been staples of the American shopping tradition for decades are closing in large numbers. Take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so hard for retailers to stay open.

Mallon still remembers the good times.

“When we opened in 1991, it was dead as a doornail,” she says. “More people starting showing interest, and then in 2000 things went berserk. Landlords were flying in from New York and purchasing buildings. Everything was overpriced. A little store like mine can’t afford those kinds of rents. . . . Miami Beach is like a wild animal now. You just never know what you’ll find. If you haven’t been on a block for a year all of a sudden here’s three new buildings.”

The official closing date is May 31, although Mallon says she will probably close the doors a few days early on May 25. She’ll focus on her boutique catering company Forkin’ Brilliant, which caters small dinner parties and makes birthday cakes.

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