Phipps Plaza: Atlanta's Luxury Shopping Mall

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Phipps Plaza is located in Buckhead, the upscale shopping, commercial and residential district in the heart of Atlanta. The 800,000-square-foot Phipps is the most luxurious mall in the city, with exclusive Atlanta locations of many of the world's most prestigious retailers. The mall is accessible from Georgia Highway 400, the major route directly north out of the city, and Interstate 85, the major route to the northeast of downtown. Phipps may also be reached from two different MARTA stations (Atlanta's rapid transit system) and by numerous bus routes. The Buckhead Uptown Connection, or "buc,'' is a free shuttle which stops at various office and retail locations in Buckhead, including Phipps Plaza. The primary trade area for the shopping center includes over 1.3 million people, and the immediate surrounding area is "the largest concentration of income and buying power to be found in the southern United States,'' according to a study from the University of Georgia.

Phipps Plaza was built in 1969. At the time, it was Atlanta's only multi-level mall. It is across the street from Lenox Square, one of the city's premier shopping destinations, and together the two malls offer virtually any product that can be bought in a shopping center. Phipps was intended from the outset as a luxury center. Its original anchors were Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. The mall remains today the only Saks location in Georgia. Lord & Taylor pulled out of the Georgia market in 2004 and was replaced by Nordstrom. In 1992, the mall expanded and added a third anchor, Parisian, which was bought by Belk in 2006. Saks is known for its designer boutiques, including Fendi, Prada, Dior and Vera Wang. Nordstrom boasts a personal shopping service that customers love.

Belk has always been known as a moderate to mid-upper level retailer, and retail experts were concerned that the store might not be a good fit for the luxury-oriented Phipps. However, Belk has made its Phipps Plaza location a "flagship'' store, offering higher-end brands like Eileen Fisher, Kenneth Cole and Joseph Abboud. Retail consultant Barbara Babbit Kaufmann says, "[T]he Belk name ... is not a typical Phipps retailer. ... I think it is going to be difficult and they have their work cut out for them.'' The retail experiment is working so far, and Belk has opened three other flagship stores at upscale locations.

Phipps also includes many specialty shops that are not found anywhere else in Atlanta. Among these are Bang & Olufsen Atlanta, Tiffany, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Georgio Armani, Valentino, Versace and Jimmy Choo. The mall has a day-spa, exclusive hair salons, original art galleries, a Metropolitan Museum of Art store, fine jewelers and, of course, clothes, clothes, clothes. Well-heeled Atlanta matrons, local and national celebrities, those who wish to "see and be seen,'' and even those who just find it fun to watch how the other half lives can all be found at Phipps.

The readers of Southern Living magazine, the arbiter of taste for all things Southern, voted Phipps Plaza a "Southern Best'' in the magazine's Readers' Choice Awards. No doubt the mall will continue to be among the South's best shopping venues for a long time to come.

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