In the days when I came to Las Vegas as a tourist, I typically came to gamble. However, if I had lost all my gambling money by Noon (I had a budget for each day), I typically went shopping…so that I would have “something” to show for what money I had left. My destination: the Fashion Show Mall.
Today a Las Vegas shopper has so many shopping choices that an entire vacation could be spent shopping. Yes, the folks who come to town when the National Finals Rodeo is in town often do come solely to shop, and they do so in at least four special shopping areas designed specifically for the rodeo crowd.
But what of the other shopping venues in Las Vegas? They greet visitors all year long.
One major shopping mall that I hadn’t visited in ages is the former Desert Passage mall now called the Miracle Mile Shops. (The 501,522=square-foot mall actually has 1.2 miles of aisle area.) Huge billboards surround the mall entrance, and to some, the billboards may seem a bit tacky, but they do draw attention.
The plaza in front of the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance to the Miracle Mile Shops is generally full of noise and activity, mostly street performers with boom boxes and costumed characters willing to pose for photos. Visitors can easily avoid the requests for “contributions”, however, by valet parking in the 4903-space parking garage, entering through several Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and Elara (Hilton Grand Vacations) entrances or by simply briskly walking into the mall past the local “entrepreneurs”.
Inside the mall, as the attached video shows, are more than 170 stores, 15 restaurants and five live entertainment venues. All look clean and well-kept, are moderately priced and draw the largest crowds in the evenings and on weekends. Some merchants have multiple locations, and many offer discounts, though we locals often say that we “never” pay Strip prices, discounts or no.
The Miracle Mile Shops originally opened in August, 2000. Since 2004, the Miracle Mile Shops have been owned by RFR Holding LLC and Tristar Capital LLC. The new owners spent $130 million renovating and rebranding the mall so that most former evidence of the Moroccan-themed Desert Passage has disappeared. Instead, the mall is said to have a “Los Angeles theme”, a modern vibe complete with black reflective tile. In September, the Wall Street Journal reported that David Edelstein, president of Tristar Capital, said, “We have positioned Miracle Mile Shops as one of the top five malls in the country with tenant sales at double the national average and over 26 million shoppers per year.”
One merchant candidly told me that his store was “near a bar and that’s great. After visitors have a few drinks,” he said, “they are much more likely to buy a souvenir for the trip home.” And what about competition from on-line shopping? This merchant said that when people are on vacation, they want to visit actual retail outlets. “Online is not really competition for the tourist dollar.”
As to other competition? Time will tell. New shopping venues on the Las Vegas Strip are scheduled to open in front of New York New York, Bally’s, the Tropicana and just north of the Flamingo.
The one holdover from the former Desert Passage is the an area in the Miracle Mile Shops with a small lake and that on weekdays “rains” on the hour and on weekends on the half-hour.
The Miracle Mile Shops open at 10:00 a.m. and close at ll:00 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.