Until March 6, 2005, in the heart of Downtown Miami where the city’s street grid begins on the corner of Flagler Street and Miami Avenue, stood the flagship store of Burdines, Miami’s proud hometown department store, proudly called, “The Florida Store.” For generations, Miamians and Floridians alike had called Burdines theirs, and the flagship store on Flagler Street was the grandest.
Although founded in 1896 in Bartow, Florida by William M. Burdine as a dry goods store, the company moved to its Flagler Street location in 1898. At that point, Miami was a small town whose growth was just beginning. Miamians quickly adopted it as theirs and Burdines spread across Florida.
As Burdines spread and with the advent of suburbs and suburban shopping malls in the 1960s and 1970s, less and less Miamians chose Flagler Street for their shopping needs. As such, the Downtown Burdines began to lose its glamour and importance. By the late 1990s and 2000s talks by Burdines officials of closing the Downtown store became to swirl. Luckily, and perhaps due to the revitalization and repopulating of Downtown Miami, the store was deemed important enough and never closed.
The Burdines family sold the department store to Federated Stores in 1956. From that point onward, however, a Burdine family member remained within the company. This changed on January 30, 2004 when Federated decided to rebrand its department stores, and Burdines became “Burdines-Macy’s.” Then finally on March 6, 2005, the Burdines named died and the store officially became Macy’s.
But the purpose of this post is less about the history of Burdines and more about it’s flagship store it’s left behind. Today a Macy’s and still located in the same Art Deco building on Flagler Street, this building has survived many of Miami’s lavish building booms. It’s a miracle it’s been preserved over the years, but it is a shell of it’s former self that is screaming to be spruced up. The exterior of the store is blank and daunting. The ground floor entrances are dirty, small and very uninviting and the interior looks like a rundown lower end store that does not properly reflect its storied past.
With the comeback of Miami’s inner city neighborhoods and the major population and construction booms in Downtown, it’s time for Downtown’s historic Burdines to come back and shine. This store is an anchor retailer for the historic Flagler Street retail corridor and any type of improvements to the Macy’s can cause a ripple effect of improvements to other stores and restaurants down Flagler. I call on Macy’s to bring back the glory days to our old Burdines. There’s no reason why Flagler Street can’t be the next Lincoln Road.
Further reading on Burdines:
- Miami Today News, 2004: Burdines books one-way ticket into city’s history on Eastern
- Miami Today News, 2005: Last Burdines sign, in Miami Beach, to come down
- South Florida Busines Journal, 2005: Burdines name fades into history