Wholesalers In Miami’s Trendy Wynwood District Feel Like They Are Getting Forced Out

One doesn’t have to venture far into Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood to see that it’s currently undergoing a major transition.

Formerly empty warehouses, newly restored, now function as both galleries and canvases for popular street artists. The gentrification of the area, aided in part by Tony Goldman’s development of the Wynwood Walls, has changed the neighborhood over the past decade and turned it into a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Only a few streets over from the art scene resides the fashion and garment district. A culmination of shops and boutiques specializing in wholesale for over 20 years, people associated with the area have noted the effect that Wynwood’s cultural and economic revival has had on their trade.

“[The area] has changed totally, now it’s just art all over,“ Victor Pinzon, the manager of Marcel’s Fashions said. Marcel’s Fashions is a wholesale business that’s been operating in the Wynwood area since 1985. Over the last ten years Pinzon’s seen the fashion district transform with the growth of the nearby art scene.

“Before, you couldn’t leave the warehouse after 5 PM because it was too dangerous,” Pinzon said in a phone interview. “Ever since the art came in more and more people come into the neighborhood now.”

“I love Wynwood. My mom does too but we do have to move,” Hannah Blinder said.

“It’s changed a lot,“ Hannah Blinder, a fashion connoisseur and entrepreneur said. Blinder’s mother Hye K. Blinder owns Hannah Bella, a trendy wholesale shop located in the heart of the fashion district.

“Now they’re turning everything into really cool restaurants, clubs, lounges,” Blinder said.

Both Blinder and Pinzon agree that Wynwood’s gentrification is good for the city overall, adding to Miami’s reputation and giving it a more cosmopolitan feel.

Photo Credit: Bea Sampaio

Photo Credit: Bea Sampaio

“Nowadays you can say you’re based in Wynwood and have people know you’re in the art district,” Pinzon said, citing one of the perks of the fashion district’s current location.

However, when asked about how the gentrification of the neighborhood was affecting the fashion district overall Blinder said it was a time of transition.

“I love Wynwood. My mom does too but we do have to move,” Blinder said. “All the buildings are not really wanting wholesalers here.”

Blinder explained that many of the warehouses utilized by these wholesale businesses are leased, not owned. The proprietors of these buildings, eager to capitalize on the art scene’s success, are more interested in leasing to potential galleries and restaurants than to wholesale shops.

“ [The owners] want to replace these wholesalers with art galleries and restaurants, stuff like that,” Blinder said. “They want to change the landscape of the whole neighborhood.”

The question now is how long the fashion district’s workers will actually continue to benefit from Wynwood’s gentrification, especially if and when the owners of these warehouses are no longer interested in leasing them space.

Blinder herself believes that the fashion district will relocate in the next few years to Allapattah, a nearby Miami neighborhood with ample warehouse space and an already existing textile industry. She hopes that the arrival of these wholesale businesses into the area will contribute to the community overall.

“We are moving down to that area and we are kind of just hoping for the same trend, like increases in safety, with everyone moving there,” Blinder said.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Bea Sampaio/RISE NEWS

This story was originally published on www.risemiaminews.com on June 8, 2015.

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About the Author
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Bea Sampaio moved at age six to Hollywood, Florida before eventually attending Florida International University. A self-described science enthusiast, she's currently pursuing her Bachelors in Biology before going on to do graduate studies. She can often be found interning in a lab of some sort or (more recently) checking out Miami's local art scene. She likes surrealism and warm hugs.
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