When Norman Ebenstein, former CEO and founder and owner of Northwest Boca Raton real estate developments, Inc. and retail center construction and design company, purchased the small, struggling Palm Beach Gardens-based chain of Palm Beach Gardens outlets, he did so with lofty dreams of bringing together a local group of creative visionaries to revitalize the mall and create a new culture for this rapidly growing area. At the time, the company’s retail centers offered only one type of outlet: a food court. As Mr. Ebenstein saw it, a second waterfront location was necessary to attract a different kind of clientele and to devise a new revenue stream that could replace dwindling contributions from mall tenants. The result: Norman Ebenstein and his partner, Gaylord executives, purchased the struggling Palm Beach Gardens-based chain of outlet malls for development into what would become known as the Boca Raton Premium Outlets.
Today, the Boca Raton Premium Outlet malls are among the most well-known in the nation. And because of their focus on attracting a diverse mix of clientele, they have experienced extraordinary success. But while the original vision of creating a community where people could come together to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean, and be attracted to a variety of local and international retailers, the interior design culture of Norman Ebenstein and Gaylord has remained largely unchanged. It is a culture that places great emphasis on mixing and learning from, the experiences of others. It’s a culture that makes designer shoppers an integral part of everyday life in the luxury shopping center.
When Norman Ebenstein purchased the Palm Beach Gardens-based chain of Palm Beach Gardens outlet malls in the early 1990s, he had no idea how important retail center construction and design would play in his business strategy. He didn’t buy the buildings; he hired the staff that worked there and designed the stores according to his vision. Today, as the founder and CEO of Norman Ebenstein Companies, Ebenstein continues to lead the charge in making sure the Palm Beach Gardens luxury centers continue to attract people of all lifestyles. And with his longtime partner, Gaylord, they continue to expand the footprint of this once-small retail center in Florida. They have seen tremendous growth in the business and continue to serve their customers with locations on multiple fronts.
“We’ve always been about bringing designer customers into our stores,” says Gaylord. “And we’ll always continue to do that. In our eyes, when you walk into a designer shopping center, you should not only experience a warm welcome by the staff, but also by the store owners and other shoppers.
In other words, the experience should be one of being part of something bigger than yourself. Ebenstein and Gaylord envision their centers as destinations, where shoppers go to experience a designer environment in a relaxed, comfortable setting. Their plans for each location include the installation of signature attractions, such as waterfalls and outdoor fountains. There are also planned expansions, including the addition of another department store.
Norman Ebenstein is also known for his strong executive leadership skills. He has led a number of design centers, from nationwide to regional to local, and has served as the CEO and president of many of them. His leadership and vision have led to the creation of numerous flagship stores, including Neiman’s and Burberry. His executive leadership has helped transform Neiman’s into an international fashion destination. And his leadership and vision have led to the creation of a national flagship retail center in downtown Miami, which will soon begin operation.
According to Gaylord,” Norm’s a great guy, very intuitive. And he sees the opportunity in front of him and he wants to make a difference.” And he continues, “Norm has always been a student of success and designer centers and he wants to continue that work at his new Miami retail center.”
Designing is about more than just creating a product, says Gaylord. “It’s also about people coming together to create a visual experience. And if you’re talking about Miami, which is a large, vibrant city, having a designer who understands the culture and who understands the people is a big deal. Norm is one of those executives who has that combination and it shows in his leadership.”