The Tipping Point: Downtown Jacksonville Retail Development

The Tipping Point: Downtown Jacksonville Retail Development
By Matthew Clark

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
  ― Malcolm Gladwell <> , The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Ever since I came to Jacksonville 10 years ago I was intrigued by downtown. An urban cityscape intermingled by the St. Johns River. This beautiful backdrop seemed like a recipe for retail success. I was interested to find that even though we have an NFL team, a large corporate presence, and some of the wealthiest zip codes surrounding our downtown we did not have a national retail presence in downtown.

Before shopping malls and retail centers took over Jacksonville, downtown’s streets were once lined with national department stores. (May-Cohens, JCPenny, Levy/Wolf, Furchgott’s, Rosenblum’s, and Sears) Suburban shopping malls and suburban sprawl have been to blame for the death of the downtown retail era. So what will it take to transform our downtown into a thriving retail Mecca that rivals that of St. Johns Town Center and other man made experience retail?

Vacant retail space in Downtown Jacksonville is currently being occupied by mom and pop retail operators. Mom and pop is a term we use in retail commercial development that describes a business owner that has a local storefront presence only. These local retailers are currently creating the retail experience as you walk the streets of downtown. A move that for many of the retailers has paid of, with many of them seeing better sales then other locations in Jacksonville. These numbers will help pave the way for national retail development. Last year saw convenience geared nationals like 7-Eleven and Pita Pit join our core. But it will take more then a 7-Eleven and a Pita Pit to get the suburban housewife downtown. I look at concepts like, Crate and Barrel, Trader Joe’s, Urban Outfitters, and American Apparel, that would thrive in an urban environment. These retailers would create that tipping point. A reason for people to come downtown from all over Jacksonville. A reason for national restaurants and boutiques to line our streets and create the synergy we need to make downtown the place to live, work, and play.

I had the opportunity to dream overlooking our beautiful urban core. We truly have a blank canvas and I look forward to bringing our dreams to a reality. Bringing national retailers to our core that will create an experience that everyone in Jacksonville will want to be a part of.

Thank you to for the archive photos. Please like the Jax Pack Downtown Merchants on Facebook to stay in the know on downtown retail.

Matthew Clark, Retail Specialist at Prime Realty
Matt is the power behind the Prime Realty retail sales engine – from tenant representation to representing large retail centers. Prior to joining the team, he was Program Manager of Marketing Experiments – the first internet based research lab that conducted experiments in optimizing marketing and sales processes with companies like Royal Bank of Canada, Reuters, New York Times, and Schlumberger. Before Marketing Experiments Matt was a Marketing Assistant for the Vestcor Companies where he helped develop and implement marketing strategies for many of the company’s properties. He earned his B.A. in Electronic Media from the University of North Florida. To learn more,