July 2008 - Steve Aronson
Miami is called the crossroads of the Americas. It’s also known as the capital of Latin America. And for good reason!
This city is vibrant, multicultural and tumultuous. The population is only 12-percent “original Floridian”. Everyone else is Latino, black and a melting pot of world cultures.
Miami hosts international business, a huge tourist industry and the country’s third busiest airport for international travelers.
Pretty soon it will also be hosting Café Britt. We’re opening three specialized gift stores at Miami International Airport. How we ended up there is a story worth telling.
We didn’t approach Miami, you see. Miami came to us. It came in the form of Carole Ann Taylor, a former New Yorker-turned-Miami businesswoman and tireless booster of all things Miami.
Carole Ann called our toll-free phone number one day. She said she had a concession called “Miami To Go” for three retail shops at the Miami airport. She’d seen our stores in Curaçao and loved their “sense of place” – how they blended local culture and products with our own gourmet coffee and chocolates. We’d be the perfect partner, she said.
Right out of the blue, she struck a chord – but maybe that’s fitting for this former jazz singer with Duke Ellington and community activist. Her timing was perfect.
Last year, The Moodie Report, a top travel publication, ranked our Peru airport stores best in the world for “sense of place.”
We’d become experts in sense of place! And with our usual humility, we knew we were ready for Miami.
Carole Ann had never been to Costa Rica or even heard of Café Britt. But this is a woman who owns “Little Havana to Go,” a gift shop smack-dab in the heart of Calle Ocho in Cuban-influenced Miami. And she doesn’t speak a word of Spanish.
We thought anyone one who could navigate all the cultural worlds of Miami would be an ideal partner.
Long story short, our three “Miami to Go” shops are now under construction. All three are beyond security checkpoints. One is in the D concourse and another two are in the H concourse in the new South Terminal.
A team of our marketing and retail experts spent a week traveling with a renowned Miami historian who showed them everything from Coconut Grove to Everglades National Park. We’ll build this unique sense of place into all three new stores.
Our shops will sell our signature Costa Rican and Peruvian coffees, our gourmet chocolates and crafts. But we’ve also created new products just for Miami.
A brand new chocolate-covered-orange is in the works. We’re also developing a special blend for Cuban coffee – that is, an intensely strong coffee that only tastes good when you make it super strong with four heaping spoons of sugar. Cubans and Latino wannabes love that stuff.
Look for tropical themes, crocodiles, artful crafts, Salsa, and lots of quality products.
So, here we are. We have a very good partner who’s on the board of the Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Arsht Center. She has a good relationship with the airport and the city. We have the expertise and enthusiasm. Miami, here we come.