Shopaholics won’t know where to begin in Gainesville. With so many retail options – more than 50 shopping centers total – they’ll bust out those credit cards and get them ready for a real workout. The largest shopping space is The Oaks Mall, which has more than 140 stores.
Typical mall finds such as Ann Taylor and Bath & Body Works share space with restaurants and a large children’s play area. The “swamp” is specifically designed for small kids with a 16-foot tree house, two slides, tocks, tree stumps and a canoe. One of the coolest spots to hit is Union Street Station, a mixed-use development in the heart of downtown. From custom cabinetry to costumes, the local shops attract an interest mix of consumers, diners and residents. The latest shopping outlet to near completion is
The Shops at Stonewall. The 318,000-square-foot structure will be anchored by a Wegmans supermarket, which Fortune ranked the nation’s third best company to work for in 2007 and 2008. The finished shopping center, slated to open in fall 2008, will include nearly 30 stores, restaurants, salons and shops.
There are also many mixed-use spots that combine living opportunities with unique boutiques. At Haile Village Center, Blue Bird Boutique Fashion stocks more than 40 designers and pieces that are easy to mix and match with each other. Charm Shoes and Pedicures appeals to foot fiends in search of an all-in-one sole experience.
Even puppies get the star treatment at Sweet Paws Bakery, with gourmet goodies just for them. But it’s not all retail in Gainesville, where agriculture also means big business, from orange groves to burgeoning biofuels. The University of Florida offers several career paths relating to the field, such as agricultural and biological engineering, as well as food and agricultural sciences. Even the smallest farmers are benefiting with all of the markets where their crops can be sold. Many people are showing an interest in microgreens, and farmers are making sure they are learning all they can to master this crop, in which gardeners harvest greens such as arugula and kale soon after sprouting. By learning how to grow small, vibrant crops, farmers can increase their sales to specialty food markets and restaurants.